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.
- 1) What Is a Retro RV?
- 2) Popular Retro RVs on the Market Today
- 3) Retro Recap
- 4) Free RVing Tips, Tricks, Reviews & Giveaways
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.
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 Unlike many contemporary RVs that can quickly feel boring and outdated, these classic designs offer a sense of nostalgia and chic style.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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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