Home » This 975-Pound Fiberglass Camper Was Designed To Be Towed By Anything From A Beetle To A Cadillac

This 975-Pound Fiberglass Camper Was Designed To Be Towed By Anything From A Beetle To A Cadillac

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If you own a sedan or a small car, your options for campers can be limited. Not everyone wants to sleep in a tent or a pop-up, but a travel trailer can be too heavy. Time and time again, fiberglass campers have shown to be an attractive choice for owners of smaller vehicles, giving them hard walls and some amenities without too much of a weight penalty. The 1970s Hunter Compact II is another camper like this and it was advertised as being able to be towed by any car, even an old Volkswagen Beetle.

We’ve been seeing a resurgence of interest in small campers lately. A lot of today’s compact crossovers don’t have the might to haul a giant hotel room on wheels. Some people just don’t have the room or desire to store a big camper, either. For many, small is becoming big. Back in the 1970s and the 1980s, small cars were a big deal, but the problems were the same. You aren’t going to tow a giant trailer with a Yugo! This era saw the rise and fall of small trailers from brands like Boler, Lincoln, Kayot, Trillium, Burro, Blazon, and U-Haul. So many more companies didn’t even endure long enough to have any surviving material about their existence. Fiberglass camper production in the 1970s and 1980s was like how camper vans are today. So many companies came out of nowhere, all advertising some advantage over the competition.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

The Hunter Industries Compact II was a fiberglass camper selling at around the same time as early Scamps. Where Scamps and Bolers resembled eggs and had fixed roofs, the Hunter Compact II was like a cube and had a pop-top for more headroom. These campers appear to be extremely rare today. According to my records, the last time I noticed one for sale was in April of this year.

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So, I’ve been waiting a bit to tell you about this little guy, and yes, you can buy this one!

From Slinging Cars To Campers

Brian Goree maintains a site with the most history on the Hunter Compact II out there. According to Goree, The story begins in 1969 with Lawrence Lynwood “Bud” Jellerson, Hyman Weiner, Eugene Russell, and Wilfred Morris Roof. Jellerson, Roof, and Weiner were the proprietors of a car dealership business and at some point decided to get into the RV space. However, they weren’t going to sell a large and heavy unit, but one that could be towed by even some of the smallest cars on sale at the time. Compact Trailers, Inc. was founded in Buena Park, California with Jellerson at the helm. In addition to campers, Compact Trailers also sold hydrocycles.

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At first, the trio partnered up with a company that was already building trailers. Trails West, a trailer producer out of Clackamas, Oregon, was already building Campster, a fiberglass camper designed specifically to be towed by small cars. Advertisements said that you could even tow your Campster with an air-cooled Volkswagen.

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Independent Press Telegram (1970-05-10)

The trick to the 12 foot, 7 inch Campster’s design was not just its use of fiberglass, but the unit kept weight down simply by using less material. In order to achieve 6 feet, 4 inches of standing room, Trails West equipped the Campster with its Tele-Top, a telescoping roof. Compact Trailers brought the Campster to California, displaying it at trade shows and advertising it.

Eventually, Compact Trailers began production of its own version of the Campster called the Compact Jr. Compact Trailers’ units looked identical to the Campster, save for a larger roof, and even featured similar advertising. Compact Trailers said its campers weighed just 975 pounds and could be towed by a mini car with “virtually no loss in power.” These trailers were fairly well equipped despite their tiny size. Compact Trailers said the Compact Jr. had a dinette for six people, a king-size bed, an icebox, a sink, a stove, and a wardrobe.

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Fiberglass RVs For Sale

By the end of 1971, Compact Trailers sold more than 600 units. The company was growing fast enough that production was moved to Chatsworth, California, where the campers would be constructed under the umbrella of Hunter Structures, Inc., a pre-fabricated commercial building company that Jellerson was vice president.

The Hunter Compact II

In 1973, Hunter Structures was ready to release the sequel to the Compact Jr. The Hunter Compact II was advertised as weighing the same as the outgoing Compact Jr., but it came with a more modern design. Hunter Structures touted the Compact II’s light 75-pound tongue, durable fiberglass construction, and the fact that the camper was small enough to fit in the typical American garage.

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Among the changes with the new camper was a higher cost. The Compact Jr. was sold for $1,495 while the Compact II started at $1,995. Fully optioned, a Compact II ran $2,494. Another change from Compact Jr. to Compact II was the roof. It was still a telescoping platform, but now it was just a section rather than the majority of the roof. Water was kept out of the pop-top with a vinyl wall with screened windows. The fiberglass body was created by mating a molded top and a molded bottom into one. You can see the seam going around the middle of the trailer. All of this rode on a steel frame trailer.

Paying $1,995 got you just the basics in your Compact II. Standard features included a 12V and 110V electrical system, a 12-gallon water tank, a 5-gallon butane tank, a three-burner stove, and a stainless steel sink. The options list was long and included such luxuries as a water pump, marine toilet, refrigerator, water heater, rock protection for the front window, an awning, spare tire, shag carpeting, a heater, electric brakes, and more.

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Hunter Structures declared the Compact II “Half A Ton Of Fun” and you know what? I believe it. At 975 pounds, or a little over 1,000 pounds with options, you could hitch a Compact II up to even the most miserable 1970s cars and still have a weekend blast. Even cooler was that since the trailer was available in six colors, you could very likely match your trailer to your car! You could even option the trailer with stripes, perfect if you’re hauling the Compact II with a muscle car.

As time marched forward, the Compact II fell under the wing of Hunter Industries, a name that shared the same address as Hunter Structures. In 1974, Hunter launched the Hunter I, essentially a Compact II with a new name in a larger bed. Sadly, Hunter Industries ended production of its campers in 1975. These trailers came and went in a blip of time and it’s estimated that there were about 2,000 units built in total across all models. Like U-Haul’s campers, there’s a group of small, but ecstatic Hunter owners out there.

This Hunter Compact II

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That brings us to the camper we have here today. I’m excited about this one because it’s not every day that you see one of these come up for sale. This 1973 Hunter Compact II was named Sunshine by its owner and the travel trailer is about that perfect mix of original and new.

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The exterior fiberglass shell appears to be in good shape and the seller notes you’re looking at fresher paint out there. The only concern I’d have is with that rusty frame, but that’s nothing a weekend with a grinder and a date with POR-15 can’t fix. From the outside, you can spot the optional guard for the front window, which is neat.

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Inside, you’re greeted with original appliances, but newer cabinetry and furniture. The seller says the trailer comes with a new propane line, new flooring, a new kitchen faucet, and a new bathroom light fixture. The wiring is said to have been redone back in 2019. Other new parts include cushions, windows, some lighting, tires, and lights. The rest is original, including the stove, some of the light fixtures, the toilet, and the refrigerator. I love the metal-rimmed dinette table and the quilted ceiling.

The camper is not in perfect condition, but it looks to be in pretty decent shape. At an asking price of $8,000 from the seller in Northport, Maine, the cost is reasonable, too. Even after fixing up that frame you’ll have a pretty awesome vintage camper for a fraction of what a new camper would cost. Perhaps the most illuminating information contained in the listing is the seller’s note that they’ve towed this trailer using a Subaru Crosstrek and a Subaru Forester. I would have loved to see the little Hunter behind a Crosstrek!

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Adela
Adela
3 months ago

When your trip involves long kilometres or remote campsites, you need a heavy-duty RV lithium battery that won’t hold you back. 
https://bslbattery.us/applications/Recreational-Vehicles.html

Greensoul
Greensoul
3 months ago

Mercedes, I love your RV articles. You are one of the reasons I signed up, although I’m a cheap bastard cloth kind of guy. Sorry, I didn’t win the lottery. I actually followed the other team after Jalopnik and was thrilled to find the Autopian, a name that makes Alexa nuts, btw. Bring on the junk yard guy! Where is Murilee? You, Mercedes, are why they got my cc info to sign and be a cheap bastard on a recurring basis, wish I could afford more. I love our shared freak love of RVs. Happy 2024!

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
3 months ago

“The only concern I’d have is with that rusty frame, but that’s nothing a weekend with a grinder and a date with POR-15 can’t fix.”

That’s a bold statement right there.

Chronometric
Chronometric
3 months ago

I like the concept but that interior layout looks cramped. Gimme a smaller bed and dinette, larger kitchen, and a bathroom.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
3 months ago

It’s should also be noted that thecreativitycaravan.com is no more!

JTilla
JTilla
3 months ago

So it doesn’t have a bed?

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
3 months ago
Reply to  JTilla

The seating area converts to a bed area

JTilla
JTilla
3 months ago

Ok thats what I thought but I couldn’t tell.

El Barto
El Barto
3 months ago

FWIW, my step-dad fitted a towing hitch to a 1962 Fiat 500 so he could tow his home-built 12′ wooden sailing dinghy, which definitely wasn’t as light as comparable plastic-fantastic sail boats at the time. Not sure if that car could tow one of these campers very far, though!

Chronometric
Chronometric
3 months ago
Reply to  El Barto

My Fiat 500 can barely tow itself and two passengers.

El Barto
El Barto
3 months ago
Reply to  Chronometric

Back in the late ’70s, the same Fiat 500D transported 2 adults and 3 kids under 12 in the back, plus luggage 115 miles both ways for a 3-night vacation, traveling on NZ highways, which probably had 50 mph speed limits back then. I have no idea how it did that, because it was definitely missing a couple of horses from the original 17 and the route had some hills along the way. Heck, I can’t imagine cramming 3 kids into the back seat of a 500 today, esp with no rear belts back there.

Chronometric
Chronometric
3 months ago
Reply to  El Barto

Yes, it is amazing how our perspective of acceptable transportation has changed.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
3 months ago

The Crosstrek is rated at 1,500 lbs, and there’s a surprising number of decently equipped campers around that fit within that range. Especially if you buy used. The guy I bought my A-Liner Alite from earlier this year towed with one and was upgrading to a bigger A-frame popup with more amenities, going from ca 500 lbs to ca 1100 lbs will add a surprising about of usability

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