The Grape Escape
Courtesy of granddaddy.co.za

RVs and Camper Vans With Style for Miles

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The Grape Escape
Courtesy of granddaddy.co.za

RV Runway

An RV doesn't have to be a utilitarian camping box. Your recreational vehicle can be your personal statement no matter how much time you spend in it during the year. If it's comfortable, if it's cozy, and if it's stylish enough to catch the eye of onlookers, your RV is more likely to be a place where you and others will want to spend a whole lot of time. There are folks out there who've invested plenty into making their RVs worth raving about; with the help of Do It Yourself RV and Country Living, we found just a few examples.

1946 Flxible Diner Camper
Courtesy of sellabus.com

1946 Flxible Diner Camper

After putting in time as a California commuter bus, this vehicle was sold to the Los Angeles Dodgers — and ended up taking the team to and from the game that won them the 1955 World Series. The “Blast From The Past” isn't just some '50s pastiche slapped onto any old bus: It was a six-year process that took its midcentury history and pedigree seriously.

1946 Flxible Diner Camper: Interior
Courtesy of sellabus.com

1946 Flxible Diner Camper: Interior

Saying it looks like a diner doesn’t quite sell the thing. It has a tin ceiling, black-and-white tile floors, a turquoise-and-chrome dinette, a granite-and-chrome diner table with its own jukebox, and a stainless-steel kitchen (and a hidden satellite television).

1947 Aero-Flite Falcon
Courtesy of fosterwayne/youtube.com

1947 Aero-Flite Falcon

This more than 70-year-old model had to be stripped down to the frame and resealed after years of water damage, though aluminum cabinets, kitchen appliances, and a diner-style table all remained. Even the exterior could work, with some love.

1947 Aero-Flite Falcon: Interior
Courtesy of fosterwayne/youtube.com

1947 Aero-Flite Falcon: Interior

The exterior was chemically stripped to bare aluminum and buffed, while lights were refabricated, rewired, and reconnected. Mahogany cabinets and door panels, an updated aluminum heating unit, aluminum blinds, and a red racing stripe were added to this chromed-out dream on wheels. The photos are gorgeous; the video of the finished product is worth the time too.

Trailer Swift
Courtesy of countryliving.com

Trailer Swift

This 1951 Spartan Mansion is parked in Belleville, Texas, and lives on the homestead of designer Bailey McCarthy, husband Peter, and their two kids. Though the family now lives in a well-appointed Victorian farmhouse, they kept the vintage trailer Bailey bought when her son was diagnosed with a lung condition that prevented him from flying,

Related: From Covered Wagons to Mobile Mansions: The Evolution of the RV

Trailer Swift: Interior
Courtesy of countryliving.com

Trailer Swift: Interior

After a two-year renovation — and vast improvements in her son's health — the 265-square-foot trailer is a de facto guesthouse. Complete with stainless countertops, modern black cabinets, burl wood interiors, and Lee Jofa Althea fabric curtains, Trailer Swift looks more like a boutique hotel suite than a trailer.

1979 Airstream Cabin
Courtesy of designsponge.com

1979 Airstream Cabin

Mackenzie Edgerton and Blaine Vossler decided to quit their jobs to focus on design full-time. To do that, they needed a traveling studio to bring to music festivals, craft fairs, and pop-up shops around the country. A beaten-down 1979 Airstream trailer would house both them and their business, but the broken window, dated wallpaper, flat tires, and green slime bordering on mold were all major obstacles. Gutting the space completely, replumbing it, and rewiring it were big steps in the right direction.

1979 Airstream Cabin: Interior
Courtesy of designsponge.com

1979 Airstream Cabin: Interior

Reconstructing the interior took help from salvage yards (an old set of school lockers and a Homart sink), a fencing company (reclaimed redwood boards for paneling), and lots of antique dealers. The final, well-appointed result still cost just $3,000.

Coca-Cola Gadabout Camper
Courtesy of coca-colacompany.com

Coca-Cola Gadabout Camper

It's recently become a bit more famous after appearing on an episode of A&E's “Pawn Stars,” but this 1977 GMC Gadabout began public life with its use in the soda company's 1978 sweepstakes. Some winners could use the motorhome for two weeks and got $3,000 in cash; a lucky five won fully loaded RVs outright. Another five were given away to distributors.

Coca-Cola Gadabout Camper: Interior
Courtesy of rvshare.com

Coca-Cola Gadabout Camper: Interior

Aside from Coca-Cola branding and a bottle cap spare tire cover, the RV is loaded with central air and heat, a microwave oven and gas range, a color television, a built-in vacuum cleaner, hot and cold running water, an AM/FM stereo and tape player (remember, this is 1977), a CB radio (again, 1977), and a 6,000-watt electric generator. From the clock to a mirrored picture, rear table with a “Coke” checkerboard pattern, lamp, dishes, flatware, pillows, carpet, towels, plaques, badges, and a refrigerator door that made it look like a vending machine, this $40,000 dream machine (which would be worth $150,000 in today's dollars) really commits to its corporate soda theme.

Related:17 Fun and Little-Known Facts About Coca-Cola

Sally the Pop-up Shop
Courtesy of countryliving.com

Sally the Pop-up Shop

Sibling designers Austin and Amanda Shafer use this 1966 Airstream Globe Trotter as a rolling storefront for them to take to events, and Sally the Pop-Up Shop is just as much a workspace as it is a living space.

Sally the Pop-up Shop: Interior
Courtesy of countryliving.com

Sally the Pop-up Shop: Interior

Interior designer and vintage dishware seller Amanda gave the trailer its pop, while hardware and tool restorer Austin built the custom shelves. It gives them a showcase for their firm, Jamison Fry Interiors, and allows them to bring their wares around the country and be more mobile if their HGTV pilot “Hammer to the Manor” gets picked up.

Tin Can Homestead
tincanhomestead/instagram.com

Tin Can Homestead

Natasha Lawyer and Brett Bashaw thought it would be great to travel around in a Volkswagen camper van for a while — but didn't anticipate enjoying the experience so much that they'd use the last half of their trip to plot out how to ditch their apartment and live in a 1971 Airstream Sovereignfull-time.

Tin Can Homestead: Interior
tincanhomestead/instagram.com

Tin Can Homestead: Interior

The duo gutted their trailer, added wooden cabinets, flooring, and furnishings, went heavy on the plant life, built an outdoor deck, and lived there for a year. Though they would later sell their Airstream, the cozy confines would be immortalized in a book they wrote about their experience.

The Beach RV
Courtesy of http://countyroadj.blogspot.com

The Beach RV

The folks behind Country Road J had a Damon Astoria motorhome, but wanted a beach house. The motorhome's run-down kitchen and disaster of a dinette required a complete makeover, but getting it to beach-house standards would require more than just paint.

The Beach RV: Interior
Courtesy of http://countyroadj.blogspot.com

The Beach RV: Interior

The owners built a wall, complete with fake window for a “view” of a tropical beach and palm trees. A custom desk was placed by the fake window, cabinet knobs that looked like boat cleats were installed, nautical accessories were splashed throughout, and ship lighting replaced most of the fixtures. Countertops, sinks, cabinets, wallpaper, window treatments, wood trim, and other features were also updated.

1976 Airstream Land Yacht
Courtesy of doityourselfrv.com

1976 Airstream Land Yacht

The folks at Sitka Concept in British Columbia kept this Airstream's trademark exterior, but exorcized the 1970s from it completely.

1976 Airstream Land Yacht: Interior
Courtesy of doityourselfrv.com

1976 Airstream Land Yacht: Interior

Rustic wood surfaces replaced laminated counters and tables. Recessed LED lighting was subbed in for hot bulbs. Stainless steel appliances banished their harvest-toned predecessors. And if you're going to redo an Airstream, you may as well go all the way and fabricate walls for the bunk-bed area, shelves and hookups for the laundry, and cabinets for the kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom.

Rosie
Courtesy of countryliving.com

Rosie

Freelance writers Matt Armato and Beau Ciolino decided that the best and most cost-effective way to get around the country was in an RV. For $4,000 (and another $1,000 in shipping costs), they picked up a 1969 Globestar, named it Rosie and got to work.

Rosie: Interior
Courtesy of countryliving.com

Rosie: Interior

Matt and Beau sank another $5,000 into cypress floors, Hygge & West wallpaper, and other improvements. They kept most of the original tangerine orange kitchen — though the concrete countertops are theirs — and tucked away a dog bed for their travel companion, Fox.

1960 Bristol Transit Bus
Courtesy of My Vintage Bus/youtube.com

1960 Bristol Transit Bus

A double-decker bus isn't great housing on its own, but strip out the seats, install a hydraulic lifting roof on the top floor, and install a gas stove and some plumbing and you have a home on wheels. The '90s conversion to a motor home even added solar power to the mix.

1960 Bristol Transit Bus: Interior
Courtesy of My Vintage Bus/youtube.com

1960 Bristol Transit Bus: Interior

All of the vintage driving equipment is still in place (down to steering wheel and gauges), but many of the original bus windows are covered over in favor of kitchen cabinets and private sleeping quarters. You have to use a composting toilet, but having the original spiral stairs and a top patio balcony somewhat make up for the inconvenience.

Tiki
Courtesy of lazymeadow.com

Tiki

Head to the Mojave Desert to find the trailer-park labor of love designed by singer Kate Pierson of The B52s. Taking overt cues from the video to the band's 1989 single “Love Shack,” Pierson'sLazy Desert is basically a collection of remodeled Airstream campers just waiting for creative guests to check in.

Tiki: Interior
Courtesy of lazymeadow.com

Tiki: Interior

The 26-foot Tiki is one of six Airstreams designed by artists including Maberry and Walker, Michael Lee Scott, and Tim Sweet. Colorfully decorated in midcentury Polynesian style, this Airstream is surrounded by a small pool, some desert Wi-Fi, and little else. You can hang out in its colorful interior all you'd like... or you could roam, if you want to.

Sheep Wagon
Courtesy of hossport.com

Sheep Wagon

Why are they called sheep wagons? Because shepherds have used them in the field for generations. Corrugated-steel-and-pine wagon versions by HossPort that can be towed by a pickup or SUV are 12 feet long and nearly 7 feet wide, and weigh around 1,700 pounds. If you're into boondocking and want an authentic Western-themed experience, it's tough to beat them.

Sheep Wagon: Interior
Courtesy of hossport.com

Sheep Wagon: Interior

The sheep wagons have a Dutch door, rear window, raised full bed with slide-out table, a kitchen box, a pantry, and room for a wood stove. It’s big enough for two with a small wash basin, but you know what you don't get for $11,500? Plumbing or electric hookups.

Military Teardrop
Courtesy of tinyhousetalk.com

Military Teardrop

Granted, the U.S. military doesn't go around in 4- by 8-foot travel trailers, but builder Steve Whelan spent just $2,000 turning his teardrop trailer into military-grade hardware. Whelan, a DJ who travels around to festivals, admits the trailer isn't perfect — ideally he would've installed a roof rack and a retractable power cable for his generator. But it prevents him from having to shell out for hotel rooms or put up with tents.

Military Teardrop: Interior
Courtesy of tinyhousetalk.com

Military Teardrop: Interior

With space for one, the trailer still manages to pack in a single bed, an outdoor table and lighting, full cabinets, and a chuck-wagon kitchen in the back with its own stove.

The Grape Escape
Courtesy of granddaddy.co.za

The Grape Escape

The Grand Daddy Boutique Hotel in Cape Town, South Africa, has been a hotel since 1895 and has the vintage elevator to prove it. But now that elevator arrives at a rooftop trailer park. While each of the hotel's seven trailers come with a queen-sized bed, running water, AC, and a bar fridge, the big Grape Escape stands alone.

The Grape Escape: Interior
Courtesy of granddaddy.co.za

The Grape Escape: Interior

This spacious suite of a trailer in a converted Airstream has an interior decorated with scenes from the nearby Cape Winelands and Cape Dutch farmsteads and its own wine bar. It’s built to make guests feel as if they've been transported to vineyards in the shadow of nearby mountain ranges.

Jay Nelson Campers
Courtesy of jaynelsonart.com

Jay Nelson Campers

San Francisco artist Jay Nelson doesn't see an old Suzuki Samurai: He sees a Copper Camper. He doesn't see a Mercedes-Benz T2 407D transporter: He sees a surf house. He doesn't see an old Dodge pickup: He sees a pop-up shop.

Jay Nelson Campers: Interior
Courtesy of jaynelsonart.com

Jay Nelson Campers: Interior

“Sometimes I’m directing an experience for myself like with my mobile structures and dwellings, and other times I’m directing an experience for an audience,” Nelson says. “If I'm building a mobile structure or dwelling, it’s designed around an experience I plan to have, a trip I will take, or time I will spend in a structure.”

2003 Cougar Keystone
Courtesy of purplewave.com

2003 Cougar Keystone

How do you get a home for a family of five in Ventura, California, for $11,000? You shoehorn everyone into 180 square feet and make it work. What about when Ashley and Dino Petrones’ sons and daughter are teenagers? It won't matter: The Petrones only needed temporary housing while their larger home was built up the road.

2003 Cougar Keystone: Interior
Courtesy of dwell.com

2003 Cougar Keystone: Interior

For a temporary home that avoids paying for hotel rooms at $100-plus nightly, an $8,000 trailer with a $3,000 Ikea-flavored remodel doesn't seem all that bad. Using Dino's construction background, the Petrones ripped out floors and cabinets, creating an open space of white walls and pale timber. The kids are all in bunk beds, and sliding doors create privacy.

African Queen
Courtesy of souwesterlodge.com

African Queen

In Seaview, Washington, just outside of Cape Disappointment State Park and south of the tourist town of Long Beach, there's a little lodge that had the brilliant idea of drawing artists and musicians from Seattle, Portland, Olympia, and Eugene with stays in refurbished vintage travel trailers. That lodge, the Sou'Wester, has nearly two dozen such trailers, but none as large as the African Queen.

African Queen: Interior
Courtesy of souwesterlodge.com

African Queen: Interior

Dating back to 1953, this monster of a travel trailer has three levels and room for eight. The first floor has two single beds, the second has a master bedroom with a full-size bed, and the third has a loft-style full-size bed reached by ladder. With a large dining room, a record player, a curated collection of vinyl, and a spot by the trailer court's fire pit — just steps from the beach — the African Queen can be either a family getaway or a band's cozy tour stop.

Ann’s Cabana
Shooting Star RV Resort/facebook.com

Ann’s Cabana

In Escalante, right in the middle of Utah's red-rock country, there's an RV resort that goes a few steps beyond in preserving the vintage RV experience. The Shooting Star resortoffers not only vintage Airstream lodging for guests, but has its own drive-in movie theater with a fleet of 1960s convertibles for watching the show during the summer months.

Ann’s Cabana: Interior
Courtesy of shootingstar-rvresort.com

Ann’s Cabana: Interior

We choose the 28-foot Anna's Cabana largely because ownership decorated it to look like actress Ann-Margret's trailer from when she filmed “Viva Las Vegas” with Elvis Presley in 1964. Granted, Ann-Margret didn't have a flat-screen HDTV in her trailer at the time, but the queen bed and air conditioning are some star-worthy amenities on a hot summer night.