Vintage motorhomes are all the rage these days – and for good reason. They offer a fun retro look that’s hard to come by in today’s world of mass production. There are tons of amazing models to choose from, each with its unique charm.
If you’re in the market for a vintage motorhome or simply curious about the coolest ones out there, check out this list of nine awesome blast-from-the-past motorhomes. Let’s hit the road down memory lane.
What Is Considered a Vintage Motorhome?
When it comes to vintage motorhomes, there’s no definitive definition. Some people might consider any motorhome more than 20 years old to be vintage, while others might only consider those 50 years or older. Ultimately, it depends on the individual’s definition.
However, there are a few factors you can use to determine whether or not a motorhome is vintage. For example, many vintage motorhomes are refurbished and may have unique features that set them apart from newer models. In addition, vintage motorhomes often have a retro style that can be difficult to find in newer models.
What’s the Oldest RV?
The exact first individual RV is the topic of wide speculation, though many credit the old gypsy caravan wagons of the 1800s as their inspiration. The first production RV was Pierce-Arrow Touring Landau, which made its public debut at Madison Square Garden in 1910, according to Smithsonian Magazine.
The Pierce-Arrow Touring Landau had all the comforts of home, including a bed, a stove, and even a telephone. The RV hasn’t looked back, constantly evolving, creating some of the most unique-looking vehicles you could imagine.
A great place to trace the history of RVs and to lay your eyes on some fantastic vintage campers is to head to the RV Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Indiana.
Pro Tip: Need some inspiration for your vintage motorhome remodel? Check out these 5 Old Camper Remodels That Will Blow Your Mind.
9 Coolest Blast-From-the-Past Vintage Motorhomes
While RVs have been in production for over a century, certain models stand out from the crowd. Even iconic brands such as Airstream have had their quirky offshoots and created some of the most sought-after vintage motorhomes and travel trailers ever. In compiling this list of nine coolest campers, it’s clear that the ‘60s and ‘70s fostered an era that produced some of the most esoteric RVs in the industry’s history.
1. Volkswagen Westfalia Pop Top Camper
Years it was made: Early 1950s until 2003
About: The Westfalia camper van featured a pop-up roof, allowing for additional sleeping space. It also included a sink, stove, ice box, and cabinets. In later years, the camper would also include a refrigerator.
Cool Features: The pop-up roof was far and away the coolest feature of this vintage motorhome. Not far behind, however, were the awning and side tent you can attach around the double side doors.
2. 1970 Dodge Glastron M300 Motorhome
Years it was made: For three years, around 1970
About: This is one of the more elusive vintage motorhomes on our list, as they appear to have only been in production for about three years, with reports of about 200 in production by popular boatmaker Glastron. Like several other motorhomes of the time, it was built on the Dodge M300 chassis, utilizing a 318 engine and automatic transmission.
Cool Features: The features of the Glastron M300 include its one-piece hand-fitted fiberglass shell. Despite being just 21 feet long, it could seat six people and included air conditioning, an onboard generator, and three double beds.
3. Westmorland Star
Years it was made: 1955 to the late 1970s
About: The ‘60s and ‘70s gave rise to the gypsy trailer, a highly ornate travel trailer with a distinct look that was obviously a direct inspiration of the old gypsy wagons. The Westmorland Star, made by Vickers in the U.K., was one of the most popular gypsy caravans.
Cool Features: The Westmorland Star’s ornate style and extremely custom look set it apart from most other RVs. It eventually became known for its wide, slightly curved windows in the front and back of the trailer and a star feature near the lip of the roof. They were also extremely customized.
4. 1976 Dodge Sportsman Travco L’Esprit
Years it was made: Mid-to-late 1970s, primarily in 1976 and 1977
About: The L’Esprit was an intermediate-sized motorhome that was 22 feet long. It was a modified version of the popular Travco line of motorhomes made from the ‘60s into the late ‘80s.
Cool Features: The 1976 L’Esprit was a stylish build on a van chassis with a beige paint job with yellow, orange, and dark brown racing stripes down the side. Its coolest feature, though, was its combination of the roominess of a larger RV with the aerodynamics and fuel economy of a van.
5. Airstream Argosy
Years it was made: 1973 to 1979
About: The Argosy was Airstream’s attempt to offer a medium-priced trailer. It had many of the same features as Airstream’s traditional silver-clad iconic trailers. Still, it utilized different materials to reduce costs and set it apart from the classic Airstreams of the time.
Cool Features: Like its sibling, the Argosy featured aerodynamic dome-shaped end caps and panoramic windows. Foregoing the traditional Airstream trailer’s shiny exterior, the Argosy sported a stylish paint job that allowed its owner a high level of customization.
We actually helped our friends Kyle and Olivia of Drivin’ and Vibin’ renovate their 1967 Airstream Argosy. They took the entire shell off and redid the frame, insulation flooring, and interior!
6. Chinook Omega
Years it was made: 1976 to 1979
About: The Chinook Omega was a Toyota pick-up chassis-based camper. Its production was the direct result of trying to produce a more fuel-efficient RV when gas shortages wreaked havoc on the U.S. market in the 1970s. The 1978 model is the most iconic for the Chinook Omega.
Cool Features: The Chinook Omega looks like a cross between a motorhome and a truck camper, making it one of the most sought-after vintage motorhomes on the market. Standing about 7-feet-6-inches tall, it has a relatively low profile for an RV but includes all the expected appliances and bedding.
7. Karmann Mobil Safari
Years it was made: 1955 until the late 1970s
About: Based on a VW Type 2 Kombi, the Karmann Mobil Safari is basically a combination between a passenger van and a cargo van. Its speed tops out at about 50 miles per hour.
Cool Features: There were only about 450 produced. It has removable seats, side windows, and a split entrance and roof storage space. Part of the cool factor of the Karmann Mobil Safari is its rounded VW-style headlights and front-grill mounted spare tire.
8. Commer Camper Van
Years it was made: 1960 to 1976
About: Commer was a British manufacturer of commercial vehicles dating back to 1905. Its camper vans in the ‘60s and ‘70s became popular for their futuristic rounded front end and VW look. In fact, in the ‘70s, Commer marketed the SpaceVan until Chrysler bought the company out and discontinued it.
Cool Features: One cool fact is that the Commer camper vans were based on the same build as the British Post Office vans that Commer produced. The coolest features of these vintage motorhomes were the pop-up roof. This was similar to the VW Westfalia, and a hammock bed system over the front seats and a two-person full-sized bed.
9. Hanomag-Henschel F20L Orion Camper
Years it was made: In the 1970s. Hanomag-Neschel made them until 1974, then produced by Mercedes until 1978.
About: The Hanomag-Henschel Orion came about in Germany during the early 1970s. A few made their way overseas, but not many. It is an extremely rare camper.
Cool Features: The coolest feature of the Orion was its sleek, polyester body. The build was very futuristic looking and aerodynamic.
Pro Tip: Check out these 7 Stylish Retro Campers That Embody Classic RV Camping.
How Much Does It Cost to Restore a Vintage Motorhome?
A vintage motorhome can cost anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars to restore, depending on the size and condition of the vehicle.
For example, a vintage camper that’s in good condition may only need new upholstery and a fresh coat of paint. In contrast, a vintage RV in poor condition may need new engine parts and a complete interior renovation.
In addition, the costs of restoration can vary depending on the location, as labor costs and the price of materials can vary from region to region. It also depends upon how much of the work you can do yourself. Hiring a professional is much more costly than sweat equity.
Is a Vintage Motorhome Worth It?
So, is a vintage motorhome worth it? If you’re looking for something unique and want to feel like you’ve stepped back in time, then absolutely!
With the right restoration project, you can have a one-of-a-kind RV that will turn heads wherever you go. Just prepare to spend some time (and money) on renovations – it’s not always easy bringing an old motorhome back to life. But when done right, it can be so worth it.
What are some of the coolest vintage motorhomes you’ve ever seen? Tell us in the comments!
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