Vintage Camper Trailer Collectors, Restorers, Admirers, and Dreamers Enjoy this Great Resource
Whatever your interest or hobby, finding relevant, timely, and accurate information about said interest or hobby is important. Whether it’s quilting, classic cars, sailing, or vintage campers, there always seems to be one source that stands above the others. For vintage camper enthusiasts, that source is Vintage Camper Trailers Magazine.
Vintage Camper Trailers Magazine has been in print for over ten years. Founders, Paul and Caroline Lacitinola have written two books on the hobby, and host some of the largest vintage camper rallies in the U.S. through www.trailerfestrally.com. In addition to restoring trailers themselves, they have a collection of several; including a 1948 Vagabond and a 1955 Spartan Manor. Paul & Caroline also host the VCT Boot Camp, where they assemble some of the best restorers in the country to teach people how to restore their trailers. For the past six years, vintage camper enthusiasts have come from all over the U.S. to these sold-out learning experiences.
How It All Began
When you have small children and want to keep them happy and entertained, we all often turn to outdoor activities. “Go outside and play” was the commandment and what better way to wrangle kids under three years old but with camping in the fresh air.
When one is trying to tread lightly into the unknown, baby steps are always best, and Paul considered an inexpensive 1962 DeVille camper trailer. Interestingly even though Paul and Caroline were then owners of classic cars and were used to buying something old and fixing it up, the allure wasn’t because it was vintage. It was the cost.
“We wanted to go camping, but we did not want to invest much money into a trailer. Not knowing if we would like the RVing lifestyle, an inexpensive, older travel trailer seemed good enough for us. The whole family was excited to go camping in our “new” old trailer, but we had no idea how that simple $500 purchase would change our lives in such a positive way, forever.”Paul Lacitinola – Founder – Vintage Camper Trailers Magazine
Camping always presents opportunities for meeting new people and enthusiasts or admirers of all kinds of camping related things. It wasn’t until a conversation struck up with several passersby that Paul and Caroline realized more than the modest amenities a 12-foot; 40-plus-year-old trailer had to offer.
Was it just the excitement of another family over the idea of camping in such a cute trailer, or was it something much deeper and uncannily binding? As the conversations continued, it began to feel familiar like old acquaintances.
“Fellow campers often stopped us as they commented on how neat the tiny old trailers were and reminisced about their time camping in trailers from a bygone era. We quickly realized that people had a real emotional connection with vintage trailers. As an old-car guy, I got it. I started to see my cheap old trailer as more of a classic and thought, “How cool would it be to put it behind an old car!?”
The Vintage Camper Passion Grows
Over time while camping with the family, Paul and Caroline continued to attract passerby admires. He finally began to associate his familiar passion for classic cars with vintage trailers. A vintage car is a great hobby so why not vintage trailer restoration? Certainly, that would resonate with the soul of somebody out there. Paul was certain he was about to create a brand-new vintage camper planet.
“I thought I had invented the vintage trailering hobby. I was unaware that anybody, anywhere, had even noticed these pieces of Americana. Optimistic that I had discovered the next new craze in collecting, I was eager to share the idea with others.”
Paul vigorously crafted an article. He was sure he had stumbled across the pairing simplicity of peanut butter with jelly. Soon after the article hit the neighborhood Paul answered his phone one fine day. The call was from a couple who wanted to comment on what they had read. Back then the internet had not evolved to what we see today where you can leave comments in the space below. That being the case, the only sure way to comment was to make a good ole fashioned phone call.
“It didn’t take long to learn that I was not the first one to the party. John and Phyllis Green read that first article in the Cruis’n News and called me. They invited me to a rally at the Tower Park Marina Campground in Lodi, CA. What?! How could this be? Somebody else thought of this already?!”
Pivoting Before Pivoting Was a Thing
Paul and his daughter Gracie went to that rally and met the Greens. The campground was like most others they had been to. But what made this trip different, was the special section where about a dozen vintage trailers glistened in the shade of the Sacramento, California Delta.
The Greens and their friends were scattered around a shady section of the campground. Bursting forth from the numerous sites were finely crafted campers. Handwrought with the precision and skill of a bygone era. Each one unique like a 1949 Westcraft trolley top trailer, each one with its own expression, each one picture worthy.
“We took pictures of all the trailers at the campout so I could use them to go with my next article. Grace and I spent the day learning about the hobby, and all the different trailers, from these hobby veterans.”
Paul, once certain he was creating a brand-new vintage camper genre, but in time came to realize – they found him. They called themselves Trailerites, they restored vintage trailers and they were getting together at rallies. This group of enthusiasts welcomed Paul, Caroline, and their children into the hobby, into the rallies, into the Tribe.
“Once reality hit that I hadn’t created a new hobby, we were happy to rally with other fellow old souls that had a passion for the same things we did. There was no Vintage Camper Trailers Magazine to tell you where the rallies were, so networking with people in the hobby was imperative.
Paul and Caroline soon found themselves pivoting long before pivoting was a thing.
Vintage Camper Show Time!
Coloma, California was the very first rally Paul and Caroline rolled into. They drove in beaming with pride and anticipation. They had a gem…an original, unrestored Shasta. The Shasta Deluxe Model 19 was top of the line in its heyday, with two bunks and a bathroom, and longer than their first DeVille camper.
“The first vintage trailer rally that we attended had us hooked! Seeing all the variety of trailers makes, models, and sizes was eye-opening. We never paid attention to old trailers, much less admired them and the individuality each one and their owners seemed to have. A new world of collectors and restorers was opened to us. The ‘traileites” welcomed us as one of their tribe, and as we have heard many others say since then, “we had found our people.”
From Simple Beginnings to a Full-Fledged Magazine
For the past ten years, Paul has continued to write an article each month for the Cruis’n News and they have attended several rallies every year. Paul and Caroline transitioned from being newbies, to one of the trailerites welcoming newcomers to the hobby. Around 2006 Facebook became available to everyone with a valid email address. The social media platform made it possible to network with others with similar interests.
“We started a very simple website and a Facebook page to share all the fun we were having. The Facebook page grew from 500 to 5,000 and now exceeds 600,000 ‘Likes’. We started a “newsprint newsletter” that has transitioned into a glossy magazine and is the hub of our now full-time hobby and business.”
Paul was recently asked how long they could maintain their passion for the hobby. “It’s a fair question”, Paul replied. “I can only reflect on my past. Although the trailer obsession has only been the past dozen years, I can’t remember when I haven’t had a classic car or not been attracted to vintage Americana. Our hobby/business has so many facets, and we have met so many great people. I can’t imagine when we will get tired of the vintage RV lifestyle that continues to bless us.” Visit the website to subscribe to Vintage Camper Trailer Magazine. Don’t forget about the VCT Boot Camp, or the Trailer Fest Rally. Paul and Caroline seemingly have every base covered.