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The Best Retro RVs: Chic Style & Modern Conveniences

The Best Retro RVs: Chic Style & Modern Conveniences

In the RV world, sleek, modern designs tend to dominate the market. But there’s a subculture of RV enthusiasts who are drawn to the timeless appeal of the past. Their vibe is a retro RV that combines the age-old charm of designs from yesteryear with the modern conveniences and technologies of today.

Retro RVs have been gaining in popularity among seasoned travelers as well as young newcomers to the RV lifestyle. In today’s post, we’re delving into the retro RV world to check out their unique features and the special allure that endures across generations.

What Is a Retro RV?

A retro RV is a travel trailer or motorhome whose design gives a nod to the past while still carrying the modern conveniences we’ve become accustomed to in the present.

In appearance, they’re reminiscent of a time when life was simpler, and road trips were filled with uncomplicated joy. Their designs typically draw inspiration from the RVs of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. They tend to feature iconic shapes, vibrant colors, and chrome accents that call back to a bygone era. Their interiors often feature things like checkerboard floors and Formica countertops.

All of this brings forth a sense of nostalgia for those who remember these design elements from their youth, and a sense of “cool” for younger RVers who may not have actual memories of the era but appreciate the chic style of retro RVs.

The timeless allure of their designs combined with the modern conveniences of today form a perfect package for more and more RVers. For this reason, there are more retro rigs coming to the market all the time. Some Retro RV enthusiasts even hunt down actual RVs from the 50s, 60s, and 70s, tear them down to bare bones, and rebuild them using the same designs, colors, interiors, and accessories.

Let’s take a look at what makes Retro RVs so appealing.

Timeless Designs

The timeless designs of retro RVs are a key factor in their enduring popularity. Unlike many contemporary RVs that can quickly feel boring and outdated, these classic designs offer a sense of nostalgia and chic style.

The classic charm that remains appealing over decades and generations is the greatest allure of modern retro rigs as well as restored RVs. Their designs aren’t constantly changing to follow modern trends, and their colors and interior styling tend to be bright and inviting.

A vintage/old motorhome

Imagine a motorhome or travel trailer with a vintage vibe but with today’s modern conveniences.

A Retro RV Can Have Modern Options and Conveniences

Behind their vintage appearance, retro RVs often offer modern conveniences. Appliances and other gear can have a vintage appearance but still meet current tech and energy efficiency standards. That’s true whether or not the unit is new or renovated.

Features like flat-screen TVs, modern sound systems, solar panels, and retro-styled furnishings made with more contemporary materials blend the old with the new, allowing owners to enjoy the best of both worlds. (Okay… it’s hard to make a flat-screen TV look “retro,” but the image quality is worth the compromise!)

The nostalgic appeal of a vintage rig combines with the conveniences of modern technology.

Compact and Easy to Maneuver

Retro RVs can be easier to maneuver and park because they tend to be more compact than contemporary rigs. This can be especially helpful when traveling on narrow or winding roads or maneuvering into tight campsites.

In some cases, their reduced size and weight can also make them more fuel-efficient.

A Sense of Community with Other Retro RV Enthusiasts

Owning a retro RV can make you an instant member of an exclusive club. It can create an instant bond with other retro RV owners you see on the road. There are rallies, meetups, and online forums dedicated to preserving and celebrating vintage RVs.

There’s a sense of understanding among retro RV owners. New owners become members of that community the moment they buy a vintage-style rig.

There’s also a deep sense of community among those who restore classic campers. Members are quick to share tips, troubleshooting efforts, and resources for maintaining and restoring vintage RVs.

Restoration Projects

For some, the appeal of retro RVs isn’t met with a brand-new rig with a vintage appearance. Instead, the allure lies in the restoration of true retro RVs — actual rigs that are anywhere from 50 to 75 years old.

Vintage RVs can be found in various conditions and states of repair (or disrepair). Each one provides the perfect project for a DIY enthusiast who wants to bring it back to its former glory.

Popular Retro RVs on the Market Today

Following are some of the most popular retro RVs currently on the market offering nostalgic style and modern comforts.

The Retro RV from Riverside RV

The Retro travel trailer from Riverside RV combines a nostalgic 1950s style with today’s modern conveniences.

The exterior of a Retro 210 from Riverside RV

The Retro 210 from Riverside RV has 1950s styling combined with modern amenities, technology, and conveniences. (Photo source: Riverside RV)

Retro RV campers come in various sizes, and 11 different models and floor plans are offered. All of them come with updated modern conveniences, some with slide-outs.

Floorplan of the Retro 210 from Riverside RV

The floorplan of the Retro 210 from Riverside RV. (Photo source: Riverside RV)

The interior of the Riverside RV Retro has a classic decor that includes black & white checkerboard flooring reminiscent of 1950’s diner style. The dinette cushions are available in vintage aqua, red, or seafoam green, (but those who prefer more neutral tones have the option to choose gray).

With the exception of the 511 models, the interior walls and cabinetry of the Riverside Retro RV trailers are covered in a bright birch wood paneling that adds to the 50s flavor of these lightweight travel trailers.

An interior shot of the Retro 210 from Riverside RV

The interior of the Retro 210 is reminiscent of a 1950s diner with its checkerboard floor and brightly-colored cushions. (Photo source: Riverside RV)

Winnebago Brave

There aren’t many retro motorhomes on the contemporary market. In fact, the only “retro” motorhome we know of in North America was the Winnebago Brave, originally introduced in 1973. If you want to get an idea of how iconic this brand is, think about the fact that the word “Winnebago” is synonymous with “RV” to many people. The original Brave fits right into that legacy.

The original Winnebago Brave from the 70s

Here’s a blast from the past – an original Winnebago motorhome. (Photo credit: Winnebago)

Winnebago brought the Brave back to the market in 2015 but, sadly, discontinued it again after 2016, so there were only two model years in the modern era. But if you can find a used one for sale, we think they’re pretty cool. Our friends Heath & Alyssa Padgett toured the country in a new Brave, and they loved it.

A 2015 Winnebago Brave

This Winnebago Brave belonged to our friends Heath & Alyssa Padgett. They loved living, working, and touring the country in the latest iteration of the Brave. Unfortunately, Winnebago discontinued the new Brave in 2016, but they’re still cool rigs if you can find one out there.

The latest iteration of the Winnebago Brave, had a cool retro interior and exterior. Gut it also included all the modern amenities and conveniences of a typical 2015 motorhome. That included automatic electronic leveling jacks, a double kitchen sink with a detachable faucet, and a commercial-sized fridge with an ice maker.

It also featured a pull-out desk for the front seat passenger to use while cruising down the road, Bluetooth speakers, a large LED TV that rises out of the counter, and a GPS that not only leads you to any destination but also tells you where there’s an overnight-friendly Walmart nearby. It also had a king-sized bed (you’d be hard-pressed to find anything larger than a queen bed in an original retro RV motorhome.

You can read more about why Heath & Alyssa loved their retro motorhome here on Winnebago’s website. And if you haven’t seen our post on the iconic Minnie Winnie, we suggest checking it out to see how Winnebago has remained one of the most iconic RV brands over generations.

Gulf Stream Coach Vintage Cruiser Retro RV Travel Trailer

Gulf Stream, Inc. has some pretty cool retro campers to offer that’ll give you a fun camping experience in a lightweight travel trailer.

A Gulf Stream Vintage Cruiser travel trailer

Gulf Stream’s Vintage Cruisers come in 13 different floorplans, all of which offer a retro vibe with modern conveniences. (Photo source: Gulf Stream, Inc.)

These vintage-styled campers are available in 13 different floorplans, a few of which have a dry weight of under 3,000 pounds. That means that they can be towed by many SUVs and minivans.

Gulf Stream’s Vintage Cruiser line has a retro vibe that calls back to the 1950s. Its aerodynamic profile has the advantage of modern wall and roof construction. It’s made with vacuum-bonded laminated fiberglass and synthetic Azdel substrate.

For the interior, you’ll have your choice of vintage color schemes like “Crimson & Cream,” “Teal & Cream,” and “Crimson & Knotty Pine.”

The dinette section of a Gulf Stream Vintage Cruiser

All of Gulf Stream’s Vintage Cruisers come with the customer’s choice of one of three retro color schemes. (Photo source: Gulf Stream, Inc.)

While the rigs may have a vintage appearance, you’ll also find amenities such as a 3-burner range with oven, rear bumper gas grill, 19″ LED TV, Bluetooth home theater, power tongue jack, and an electric awning with an LED awning light and outdoor speakers.

These cool retro RVs are easy to pull down the road, easy to maneuver, and lots of fun to camp in. They provide a feel of yesterday and all the conveniences of today.

Happier Camper Travel Trailers

Finally, we want to mention some cool little fiberglass campers produced by Happier Camper.

A Happier Camper HC1 Studio travel trailer

The Happier Camper HC1 Studio has a retro appearance on the outside. But believe it or not, there’s a bathroom and kitchenette in the tiny HC1, courtesy of a cool modern interior layout known as Adaptiv. (Photo source: Happier Camper)

If you’ve seen our post on Happier Campers, you’ll know that the combination of retro style and modern convenience in these little rigs is a bit different than any of the previous retro RVs we’ve covered above.

A Happier Camper HC1 travel trailer

The Happier Camper HC1 travel trailer has a modular interior design for flexibility and customizability. (Photo source: Happier Camper)

While the exterior gives a vintage vibe, the modular interior system is designed to allow campers to design and redesign the interior as desired. This is done using the modular Adaptiv system, which works similarly to Lego® blocks.

Cubes fit into grooves in the floor to create various interior layouts. For example, you can stack the cubes to create a bed or to hold a countertop for a desk or eating station. You can even remove them from the retro rig and use them outside.

Happier Camper HC1 hatch shown

The HC1 and all Happier Campers use a modular of Adaptiv cubes to arrange and rearrange the interior of the campers. (Photo source: Happier Camper)

Retro Recap

Retro RVs and motorhomes offer a blend of nostalgia, chic style, and practical modern conveniences for vintage RV enthusiasts. If you’re hunting for a rewarding restoration project, a vintage rig might be for you. But if you’d rather walk into a dealership to buy a brand new rig with an olden-days vibe, it’s good to know they’re available.

If you’d like to tour some of these timeless rigs with enduring appeal, you can check them out at various dealerships, or events like the Tampa RV Show, Hershey RV Show, and others.

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Monday 23rd of October 2023

We recently purchased a Riverside Retro 135 and love it! We are having trouble finding a cover for it. The living quarters is 12 1/2'long and many companies we've inquired to don't make them that small. Anyone have any suggestions? Thank you!


Tuesday 24th of October 2023

Oh yeah, that's a real issue. We don't have a suggestion for you... but you may want to try posting (it's free to join & post) over on the forums at You may find some other Riverside Retro owners over there who can help.

Gay Travel Enthusiast (Jason)

Sunday 22nd of October 2023

Hey guys. Another awesome RV story. I remember seeing RVs of the 1970s and early 80s. Among my favourites are the GMC Motorhome like you showed a pic of, the FMC Motorhome. Both were produced in the 1970s for only a short amount of time, between 1973 and 1976 (FMC) 1978 for the GMC Motorhome. There's just so many interesting and cool motorhomes that were produced between 1960 and 1995. I'd buy one if I had someone to share the experience with.

Gay Travel Enthusiast

Wednesday 25th of October 2023

@TheRVgeeks, While I get that there are people who like the latest gadgets and technology, and there are some of today's technology that I appreciate, such as back-up camera, Garmin GPS Navigation, lane change warning, to warn you that another car is in the lane you're trying to move into. I also enjoy listening to music and podcasts on "Alexa", I'm rather old-school when it comes to RVs. I'm most interested in motorhomes of the 1960s through to the early 90s. Among my favourites include the GMC Motorhome, the FMC Motorhome, the Foretravel, the Dodge Travco, and the Airstream and Argosy Motorhome.


Tuesday 24th of October 2023

Glad you enjoyed this, Jason!

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