A Complete Guide to Different Types of Vintage Trailers
Just like any normal vehicle, there are endless styles to choose from when it comes to trailers. Depending on your desired use and style, some trailers may be better for you than others. We know it can be pretty overwhelming to track down every single type of trailer just to see which one you may want to consider. If you’re looking to get a quick overview on the most popular trailer types, we’ve got you covered:
- Dates: 1935 – present
- Location: Ohio, Jackson Center
This classic trailer is well-known by many because of its distinct shape and structure. This “silver bullet” was created by Wally Byam, who had early experiences of traveling with his grandfather via donkey cart. Motivated by these difficult travels, he began to design a more comfortable way to travel. The Airstream is characterized by its shiny, polished aluminum exterior that covers its rounded shape. Made to be sturdy, this trailer is said to last a lifetime and provide spacious interiors. Although it is a tough trailer, it’s still a lightweight material that makes this an absolute classic.
- Dates: 1941 - 2004
- Location: Los Angeles, California – later moved to Goshen, Indiana
While they were originally made for mobile military housing, they quickly became popular for leisurely travel. This extremely compact trailer is characterized by its “canned ham” shape. However, unlike the typical canned ham trailers, it was well-recognized because of its wings. Made to symbolize the idea of freedom and the American Dream, these wings were proudly stuck on this trailer to set it apart from all the others. Also called the “toaster on wheels,” its round profile provided a compact trailer for travelers.
- Dates: 1956 -1974
- Location: Morgan Hill, California
This unique trailer was known because of its unique ability to be stored in home garages. The trailer came with optional metal wheels that could be removed and lowered to fit in the small confines of a garage. Not only was it storable, but this trailer was built with aircraft construction techniques to provide a sturdy vehicle. With large windows on every side of this vintage trailer, it was truly a sight to have.
- Dates: 1956 -1990s
- Location: Benton Harbor, Michigan
This hefty trailer is made by two skilled craftsmen who were born and raised in the industry of all things tools. These long vehicles were made with an aluminum skin on the exterior when they first started manufacturing. However, they later switched to a satin-finished anodized aluminum that provided a sturdier frame. Made with a highly advanced suspension system, it was built with a strong triple beam of heavy-duty steel as well as an extra support center beam to provide exceptional strength.
- Dates: 1954 -1970s
- Location: Beaverton, Oregon
Aloha Trailers were another iconic “canned ham” shaped vintage trailer. Made by Glen Gordon, the company consisted of several hundred workers. The trailer itself was built with thin sheets of ribbed aluminum panels held together by a wooden frame. Instead of setting walls on top of the platform as is traditionally done, Gordon incorporated the wood platform into the design. This was a trailer that was “built by the west… for the west”. Because it was made primarily for the Northwest region, its features were made especially for the damp climate. Features such as wider drip rails and thicker plywood made it durable against the western weather.
- Dates: 1945 -1970s
- Location: Burbank, CA – later moved to Sun Valley, California
This particular travel trailer was known because of its especially spacious interior and high ceilings. Designed and made by Bill Kennedy for its earliest years and then later taken over by Jim Brunskill, the Kenskill trailer got its name from the combination of both its creator and caretaker. A teardrop trailer from the outside, this vehicle was meant to be high inside with plenty of extra room above your head for comfortable movement.
- Dates: 1930 -1957
- Location: Los Angeles, California
Created by Omar Suttles, this vintage trailer was just a little bit different from the other ones during its time. Although it had a traditionally shaped exterior, its porthole windows gave it something that many people were not used to. This beautiful trailer was originally created with Masonite siding but later switched to aluminum much like many other ones. Time gave this little trailer quite the upgrade, which later featured a yacht-style double door that separated the bedroom. Not only did the inside get a sprucing up, but they also offered gold anodized aluminum to celebrate its anniversary, making it a huge hit.
- Dates: 1956 -1961
- Location: Tulsa Oklahoma
If you’re looking for the most luxurious of the trailers, this is your pick. Made by one of the richest men in America at the time, this trailer was the ultimate aristocrat’s vehicle. J. Paul Getty designed this trailer with some of the most expensive and high-quality materials that he could get his hands on. Engineered the way that airplanes were made, this spacious trailer was used for recreation or even as a primary living space. The aircraft-grade aluminum made it one of the most high-quality trailers of all time.
- Dates: 1958 -1979
- Location: Forest City, IA
This small camper is designed with a canned shaped exterior. Unlike the others that eventually changed their shapes as time went by, the Forester was one of the only canned shaped trailers to exist past its time. Made with aluminum siding skin and a baked enamel paint, this cute camper was truly the looker.
Benroy Teardrop Trailers
- Dates: 1953 -1955
- Location: Burbank, CA
This unique camper is one of the original teardrop trailers. Its compact design is coated with a smooth, bright silver body and a racing red stripe at the bottom. A true standout design, this trailer is made with a mill finished aluminum exterior. The inside features fir plywood to create a beautiful interior. While they were sold to many dealers, they were commonly used in rental lots for families to rent for the week.
Bowlus Road Chief Trailers
- Dates: 1934 -1936
- Location: San Fernando, California
If you thought the others were shiny, you haven’t seen the Bowlus Road Chief. This extremely shiny trailer is made of riveted alclad aluminum to provide a smooth exterior that is quite blinding. The exterior is screwed to a galvanized steel tubing that is acetylene welded together, making it sturdy and tough. Using engineering similar to that used in the construction of aircraft, this trailer definitely shows its plane-like features. This was one of the first completely aluminum travel trailers on the market, and a good one at that.