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Avion Trailers & Truck Campers: Embracing Retro Style

There’s something attractive about retro RV designs. They represent a time when quality construction was at an all-time high, and the nostalgia of childhood vacations has an enduring appeal. Avion campers represent a blend of classic design and contemporary convenience. An Avion trailer and truck camper van have a vintage flair that tries to capture the essence of travel in bygone eras. With the shiny aluminum exterior and thoughtfully crafted interior, you might mistake an Avion camper for an Airstream.

We’ll take a comprehensive journey into the world of Avion truck campers and travel trailers, exploring their history, features, construction, and cost. We’ll also answer the age-old question: Are Avion campers as good as Airstream? 

Keep reading to find out!

Vintage 1976 Avion Travelcader | Full Tour

What Is An Avion Camper?

Avion is an RV brand that made travel trailers and truck campers. People know Avion campers for their distinctive aluminum bodies, reminiscent of aircraft construction. The use of high-quality materials and meticulous craftsmanship have made Avion campers highly sought after, even decades after their original manufacturing stopped. 

When Avion was founded in the 1950s, the company focused on classic aluminum-sided travel trailers. Their popular models included the Travelcader, Rambler, Rover, Regal, and Argonaut, ranging from 20 to 28 feet long. With its sleek design and high-quality craftsmanship, it didn’t take long for Avion to take off as one of the top RV companies of the mid-20th century. In 1965, it launched the sleek and functional truck camper, which was one of a kind at the time. Occasionally, you’ll still see these unique, aluminum-sided truck campers on the road today. Popular models include the Avion C-10 and C-11. 

Avion vintage RV
Avion RVs are a blast from the past.

The History of Avion Campers

An avid sportsman and business owner Loren Cayo founded the Avion Coach Corporation in 1955. He and his friends wanted an RV that they could stay in comfortably with or without hookups, and aimed to create the finest travel trailer in the United States with high-quality materials throughout the interior and exterior. They began manufacturing in Bent Harbor, Michigan, and by 1967, Avion travel trailers were becoming so popular that they expanded their operating plants to Benton Township, Michigan, and San Jacinto, California. 

By 1970, the Cayo family sold most of their interest in Avion to Robert Ligon of Ligon Enterprises, who continued to make Avion travel trailers true to their original, quality design until Fleetwood Enterprises bought the company in 1976. At the present day, Fleetwood still manufactures fifth wheels under the Avion name. Nevertheless, they stopped manufacturing the classic aluminum models in the 1990s. 

Is Avion as Good as Airstream? 

RVers often compare Airstream and Avion travel trailer models due to their similar aluminum-clad exteriors and vintage appeal. Both brands have a dedicated following, and the choice between them often comes down to personal preferences. While Airstream enjoys wider recognition, fans cherish Avion campers for their unique charm and sometimes more affordable price points. Moreover, they were both built to last.

Airstream and Avion campers have two complete aluminum shells; one for the exterior and one for the interior. Between the two shells, they have fiberglass insulation. The trailers are then riveted together into one complete unit, with the only wood construction being the floor and cabinets. But if they’re so similar, then why is Airstream more well-known than Avion?

It could be partially due to a lawsuit against Avion by the makers of Airstream in the 1960s. Possibly threatened by Avion’s success, Airstream contended that Avion had plagiarized its classic aluminum body style. Unfortunately for Airstream, their claims weren’t upheld in court since many other travel trailers were made the same way during that time. Still, Avion doesn’t hold the success that Airstream has to this day, and they no longer make campers with the traditional aluminum construction. 

Avion travel trailer for sale
Avion RVs are similar to Airstream in style and construction.

Where Can I Buy an Avion Camper?

If you’re looking for the beloved retro-style, aluminum-sided Avion truck camper, you’ll have to peruse the internet for used trailers. Because Avion stopped manufacturing this body style of travel trailer in 1990, anything you find will be over 30 years old and will likely need some remodeling. 

We recommend searching locally first on sites like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or Uncle Henry’s if you live in New England. You may have some luck with used RV dealers in your area. However, you’ll probably end up paying a bit more if you purchase an Avion through a dealer versus a private sale. We also recommend looking at sites like RV Trader and even E-bay if you don’t have any luck locally. 

Pro Tip: Take a walk down memory lane in these 9 Coolest Blast-From-the-Past Vintage Motorhomes.

Is an Avion RV Right for You?

Before diving into the world of Avion campers, it’s crucial to consider whether this type of RV aligns with your travel preferences and lifestyle. Let’s look at the various factors one should consider before taking the plunge. 

Models 

Avion produced their classic travel trailer campers in various models and sizes from the 1950s to the 1990s, each catering to different needs and preferences. From compact trailers suitable for couples to larger models for families, there’s a diverse range of Avion campers. Here’s a general breakdown of Avion’s models through the years:

In the 1950s, Avion manufactured the 26-foot Regal, 23-foot Rover, and 20-foot Rambler truck camper lines. The 1960s gave way to the creation of the Imperial, Holiday, Tourist, and Sportsman, ranging from 30 feet to 18 feet long. They also made the C-10 and C-11 truck campers at this time. From 1968 to 1977, the 31-foot LaGrande, 28-foot Travelcader, and 25-foot Voyageur came onto the market. They even built a mini motorhome in the 1970s, but it would be extremely rare to find, as they made less than 500 of them. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, they made various improvements to the existing models, including the “V” with twin beds and a rear bath, and the “W” with a rear bedroom and center. Notably, they manufactured a limited edition 38-foot fifth wheel manufactured in 1990. 

avion truck camper
Avion truck campers have a distinct rounded aluminum look.

Construction 

One of the standout features of Avion campers is their robust construction. Like Airstreams, the use of aircraft-grade aluminum not only contributes to their iconic appearance but also enhances their durability. The exterior and interior shells of riveted aluminum with fiberglass insulation ensure minimal to no water damage. It also reduces the risk of rust and corrosion, making certain that Avion campers can withstand the test of time and the elements. This is why so many people consider an Avion camper an investment. They can last for decades. 

Specifications

The specifications of Avion campers vary widely between the years and models, but we’ll focus on the most popular models. 

The Rambler, the Rover, and the Regal were the first three models Avion manufactured. The 20-foot Rambler was available with either twin or double beds and weighed approximately 2,300 lbs with a hitch weight of 290 pounds. It slept four people and had a cooking range, water heater, and a marine toilet. Similarly, the 23-foot Rover and 26-foot Regal were larger versions of the Rambler, each weighing around 3,000 pounds with hitch weights of 300 pounds. Like the Rambler, they had multiple sleeping options such as a convertible dinette or sofa. 

The Travelcader is another model you might come across, as they made it for over a decade between 1961 and 1972. At 28 feet long and 7 feet wide, this model is one of the more spacious Avions. It’s also one of the heaviest at 4,480 pounds. It has a dual axle, a 50-gallon water freshwater tank, a rear bathroom with a shower and a tub, and an A/C with two heaters. With multiple sleeping areas including twin beds, this model has been extremely popular for families. 

These are only a few examples of the various specifications of popular models. For more information on the wide array of models, visit Tin Can Tourists

Inside Avion RV
Make sure to factor into your budget the need for restorations to your Avion RV.

Cost

The cost of an Avion camper will vary based on factors like the model’s rarity, condition, and amenities. While some vintage models might be more affordable, well-maintained units will inevitably cost more. In general, you’re looking at prices ranging from $10,000 to $50,000 or more. It’s crucial to establish a budget and conduct thorough research to make an informed investment, especially when it comes to any restoration costs.

Restoration Considerations

Generally, the less you pay for your Avion camper, the more restorations you’ll need to factor into your budget. Because Avion campers used high-quality materials, the overall structure and frame will likely be in decent condition. However, the wooden floors, electrical, cabinets, plumbing, and appliances might need repair or replacements. Restoration can be a rewarding process, but it requires time, effort, and potential financial investment. From interior refurbishment to mechanical upgrades, restoration allows you to personalize your Avion camper while preserving its classic charm.

Vintage travel trailer
Vintage RV enthusiasts will love stylish Avion trailers.

Are Avion Campers a Cheaper Alternative to Airstreams?

Because Avion campers have a less prominent brand recognition, they can be a cheaper alternative to Airstreams. Still, the high-quality materials and vintage appeal put Avion RVs at a higher price point than most other used campers. Ultimately, the price you pay will vary based on factors like condition, age, and the type of sale. Like Airstreams, Avion campers are known for durability and many RVers consider them an investment. Depending on the initial cost and necessary restorations, Avions can be an appealing choice for vintage travel enthusiasts seeking style and value.

Pro Tip: Need some inspiration for your vintage RV remodel? Check out these 5 Old Camper Remodels That Will Blow Your Mind.

AVION or Airstream Travel Trailer?

Stand Out in a Retro Avion

An Avion travel trailer or truck camper can be a testament to the enduring allure of retro design and craftsmanship. With their shiny aluminum exteriors and well-crafted interiors, they provide a nostalgic and convenient travel experience. Owning an Avion camper is not just about having a means of travel. It’s about embracing a lifestyle and community of like-minded individuals who appreciate the beauty of the past. With your retro rig, you’re not just hitting the road, you’re investing in a quality home-on-wheels and championing a classic, bygone era.

If you’re ready to roll back the years while driving on the open road, an Avion camper might be your next travel companion.

Are you in the market for an Avion camper? Tell us in the comments below! 

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About Cait Morton

Co-Founder, Logistics Queen, Business & Content Manager, and Animal Lover

An Upper Peninsula of Michigan native (aka a Yooper), Caitlin is the organization, big-picture, and content strategy queen of our operation. She keeps everything orderly and on track.

With a background in Business Management, she supports and helps channel Tom’s technical prowess into the helpful content our readers and viewers expect. That’s not to say you won’t find her turning wrenches and talking shop – RV life is a team effort. She keeps the business and the blog moving forward with a variety of topics and resources for our audience.

Believe it or not, she is rather camera shy, though she co-hosts the Mortons’ personal videos and The RVers TV show.

Caitlin’s passion lies in outdoor recreation and with animals. Some of her favorite things to do are hiking, biking, and getting out on the water via kayak, SUP, or boat.

She also loves the RV life due to the fact that you can bring your pets along. Sharing information about safely recreating outdoors with your whole family – pets included! – is very important to her. Because of this, Caitlin spearheaded the launch of HypePets in 2023.

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