Question of the Weekend: Have you ever considered owning a Camper?

The Nelsons – Does anyone around here remember this show?

With yesterday’s Last Call, and today’s Piper turned into a caravan, I was wondering if anyone else ever yearned for a camper, be it a pop up tent style trailer, one that bolts into a heavy duty pickup, a Volkswagen Westfalia, an Airstream Trailer, or even a full blown Class A Motorhome. Read more after the jump….

The UDMobile, ready for action!

There is a certain amount of appeal in owning such a conveyance, and I should know. Growing up, my parents owned a Class “C” Motorhome (Built on a 1972 Ford Econoline Chassis), and a 1977 Coachman “Bunk” style travel trailer, so I was exposed to this sort of “family vacation” early on. Each home-away-from-home has their own merits balanced with quite a few faults. Here are some of the more popular campers.

The pop-up Tent Style Trailer:
The most cost effective way to experience travel while still having at least some of the comforts of home. Many of these trailers still offer a stove top range, refrigerator, and plenty of off the ground sleeping arrangements. Some of the pricier versions even offer a bathroom, a small kitchen sink, and even heat and air-conditioning. They can be towed by most cars, and cost from around $5,000 all the way up to $30,000. Disadvantages include lack of privacy, difficulty in deploying and storing the living quarters, and the possibility of mildew with the soft sides of the unit.

The Standard Travel Trailer:
Called the Caravan in Europe, this is by far the most numerous of the camping vehicles offered, with a wide variety of styles, lengths, widths, and prices. You can get a very small tear drop style trailer than can be towed behind most subcompact cars, to giant 40 foot units that can only be towed by a dually pickup truck. The key advantage is all weather capability with every convenience available on most models including satellite TV, climate control, and even slide out compartments to make the living space more spacious. The disadvantage is that you have to have a larger truck if you want a big one. New models include “Toy Haulers”, in which you can live in the trailer, and bring your car, bike, or quad-runner with you.

The Class “C” Motorhome:
This is a fully contained unit that is usually built on a truck chassis that retains a portion of the cab. The Domestic models most associated with this designation are built on a modified Ford E350 or E450, or a GM 3500, though there are models built on Freightliner, International, or Volvo Truck chassis that are also designated as a class “C” model. These are Mastodons on the road, with all the cornering ability as Big Ben, and with dismal fuel economy reaching single digits. Every single comfort feature is offered as an option, from marble counter tops, to whirlpool tubs.

The Class “B” Motorhome:
This is a special classification in which the van or truck is turned into a motorhome, without really growing too much in size. There are usually vans with a pop-top tent (like the Westfalia) or the converted Sprinter Vans you see now. The Winnebago Lesharo and Rialta was a special designation, taking either a Renault or a VW and turning it into a Motorhome.

The Class “A” Motorhome:
These are motorhomes that are built on their own specialized chassis, and usually have the look of a bus. These are the leviathans of the road, often piloted by retired octogenarians. Did you know that in most states you don’t need a special drivers license to operate these things? Anyway, these are the most Expensive Campers available today, with q healthy market for ones that retail over $500,000.

Slide-In Campers:
Just like a Class “C” motorhome, but without the room. These utilize a standard heavy duty pickup truck, and they are sold on the fact that they can “slide-in” when needed, and “slide-out” when they are not needed. What it actually does is compromise a Heavy Duty Pickup to the point of being practically useless, with no margins left for towing, or cargo capacity, while providing a cramped living compartment, and and inconvenient access.

So the question remains, did you ever consider a camping vehicle? I’m sure there are a lot of stories you all want to share.

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  1. Jim 7 Avatar
    Jim 7

    I had a 1956 Sedan de Ville that was converted to a cab-over. When it blew up I added a 350/350 and a Ford 3/4 ton rear end. We took it to Death Valley, Jerome, Prescott, Reno, Tahoe, Yosemite, etc. But I never did trust it and it was a handful to drive; every turn was an adventure and every stop was scary. I gave it to a friend of mine, and he has it in storage. Send me a link and I’ll post pictures.

  2. lilwillie Avatar

    If you keep telling stories about RVing you'll make me want one myself…