Home » This Camper Looks 60 Years Old, But It’s Newer Than The Average American Car

This Camper Looks 60 Years Old, But It’s Newer Than The Average American Car

Mid Century Camper
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Vintage-style everything is in nowadays from throwback car designs to motorcycles that look ripped right from the pages of history. There are also vintage-style RVs, but many of them are half-baked and barely even look the part. Back in 2015, Shasta decided to honor its history by reissuing the trailers it made in 1961. The Shasta Airflyte reissue looks just like a trailer from 1961, but it comes with the equipment of a modern RV. Sadly, there’s a catch.

It’s no secret I love vintage RVs. There’s nothing wrong with the design of a modern RV, but it’s hard to get excited about sleeping in a boring white box. That’s where vintage trailers and motorhomes come in. You get to take a trip back through time with something that’ll almost certainly get comments wherever you go. Some manufacturers have recognized the demand for these camping time machines and that’s why you’ll find vintage-style rigs like the Happier Camper HC1 travel trailer, the Gulf Stream Coach Vintage Cruiser travel trailer, and the Winnebago Brave motorhome.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

But here’s the thing, many of these vintage-style new RVs only look the part if you squint. Take a look at the Gulf Stream Coach Vintage Cruiser below. It’s just a regular modern travel trailer but with a cooler graphics package.

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Gulf Stream Coach

At least the Winnebago does a better job at looking the part:

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Winnebago

That’s why I’m drawn to the Shasta Airflyte Reissue. When I came across one for sale online, I thought the seller goofed up the model year and they were actually selling an old trailer. As it turned out, I was wrong and I was indeed looking at a trailer built in 2015, not 1961.

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Shasta was founded in 1941 when Robert Gray started building house trailers for the United States military. The idea was that as members of America’s Armed Forces moved around, Gray’s trailers would go with them, forming temporary housing. These trailers served that purpose during World War II, and after the war, Gray pivoted towards selling trailers to the public. He sold trailers under the Cozy Cruiser and these trailers weren’t exactly travel trailers, but units designed to sit in one place for a while.

Shasta Trailer 2
Shasta

The brochure above shows what the Shasta Airflyte looked like in the 1960s.

Going into the 1950s, Shasta began producing travel trailers that would captivate American RV buyers. Shasta trailers had a distinctive design and an affordable price, the perfect mixture of attributes to convince many to hitch one of the trailers to the back of their cars. Most post-1958 Shastas are easily identifiable with their characteristic rear wings.

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Facebook Seller

Eventually, the company would be purchased by the W.R. Grace Company in 1972 and then by Coachmen in 1976. Coachmen Industries kept producing Shastas until 2004. Coachmen brought the brand back online in 2008 with a neo-retro Airflyte with all-electric appliances and a stainless steel Art Deco-style interior (above).

In 2010, Shasta was revived again by Forest River, the company that owns Shasta today. In 2015, as a celebration of 75 years of Shasta’s history, the company debuted the new Shasta Airflyte, a reissue of the 1961 Shasta Airflyte 16SC. Again, the brochure photo is above!

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The Shasta Airflyte Reissue

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Facebook Seller

What stands out about the Shasta Airflyte reissue is the fact that, unlike other vintage-style trailers, the trailer doesn’t just sort of look like it came from 1961.

Shasta went through the work to take its old trailers and update them to modern specs while keeping the vintage shape. So, you’re getting an electronically welded chassis with powder coat, LED lighting, and modern RV equipment. Shasta was so dedicated to replicating the old trailer that the new trailer had the same floorplan and an interior with upholstery and cabinetry designed to look like the old trailer. The company even went as far as to recreate the gas lamps that used to be in its trailers but placed LEDs in them.

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Facebook Seller
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RV Trader Seller

Mark Lucas, the present of Shasta, wanted to make it clear that the Airflyte reissue wasn’t just a new trailer that looked like the old one. Speaking with RV Daily Report, he said:

“It’s not a retro unit, it’s a re-issue based on the original print pack from 1961.”

“We are building to current RVIA codes and using modern air conditioners, microwaves, stereos, furnaces, etc.,” he explained. “Hehr windows has dusted off their tooling and is making jalousie windows for us and Amerimax is making the log cabin siding. Parked side by side, it is hard to tell the new from the original.”

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Facebook Seller

Lucas then went on to say that the new trailer was so similar to the 1961 units that most of the parts redesigned for the new trailers would also fit the old ones. Shasta even painted the new trailers in the original 1961 colors.

As noted above, the Airflyte reissues were built to modern standards. So they have a Bluetooth stereo, wet bath, a microwave, and an air-conditioner. However, as your eyes have probably already noticed, Shasta went through the work to conceal those parts. Even the bathroom is pretty hidden as it resides where the closet would be in an original trailer.

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In terms of holding tanks, you’re getting a 25-gallon fresh tank, an 11-gallon waste tank, and an 18-gallon grey tank. Other small improvements include a slightly wider entry door and even the stabilizer jacks were hidden to maintain the vintage look. To complete the theme, Shasta then published a vintage brochure to go with its new trailers.

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Shasta

You got all of this in a trailer measuring 16 feet or 19 feet. The 16-footer weighed just 1,840 pounds and had a starting price of just $16,995. The bigger 19-foot trailer started at $17,995 and weighed 2,703 pounds. That’s right, Shasta essentially re-engineered its vintage trailer and didn’t even sell it for a ton of money. But there is a catch.

The Catch Or Two

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RV Trader Seller

Unfortunately, if you’re interested in buying one of these, you’ll find that Shasta didn’t build many of them. Shasta built just 1,941 examples to commemorate 75 years of production.

The other catch you should know about is the fact that 89 percent of them were recalled and for two pretty strange reasons. Forest River recalled 1,736 Shasta Airflyte reissue trailers because the rear exit window glass was poorly adhered to its frame and could fall off while the trailer was on the road. The other recall got even weirder as it was discovered that the trailers had insufficient clearance between their tires and their wheel wells. The lack of clearance could result in the trailer’s tires rubbing the wheel wells on bumps. Forest River’s fix was a taller axle.

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Facebook Seller

So, it would appear that Shasta not only made near-exact replicas of its old trailers but also replicated the quality that travel trailers are known for. That said, it would appear the few people who did buy these trailers seem to enjoy them, so maybe the recalls were the bulk of what happened to these trailers.

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Even though just 1,941 Shasta Airflyte reissues were made, it’s not too hard to find one of them for sale. A quick search shows four of them currently for sale on RV Trader. Though, don’t expect them to have suffered from a ton of depreciation, because all four of them are listed for around $15,000. There are lots of these on Facebook all over America as well, usually for about the same prices.

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Facebook Seller

If you can stomach the possibility of some quality issues here and there, it sounds like the Shasta Airflyte gives you the rare opportunity to buy an old trailer, but without old trailer bones and equipment. And with that low base weight, it joins the list of trailers towable by a wide variety of vehicles. I wish more companies took their old models and made them new again.

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Regorlas
Regorlas
1 month ago

Love the vintage brochure. Period-correct photo reproduction, typography, layout… but with a website URL at the bottom.

You Audi Know
You Audi Know
1 month ago

Mercedes, Can you explain why a retro design, presumably with heavier parts, can reach a gross weight that’s towable by just about everyone, but modern trailers, which should have weight savings, seem to only be getting heavier?

Space
Space
1 month ago
Reply to  You Audi Know

Yes someone answer this, why are some trailers so heavy!?

Jakob K's Garage
Jakob K's Garage
1 month ago

I love the Pikachu ears!
And the diner interior.

Blaine Johnston
Blaine Johnston
1 month ago

We rented one of these, one with teal accent color, and it was super cool looking, but man, the A/C just plain didn’t work, and I feel like it’s substantially because it’s placed at floor level. Sure, we were in FL, but even when it was in the shade, it might as well have been off. It was always hotter inside than outside the camper, and if you cook in there? Forget it. Love the look, but it was miserable for this climate, unfortunately.

Is Travis
Is Travis
1 month ago

The guy at the local CnC pulls one of these with a matching old red Ford truck, he camps the heck out of it too. They’re really well built.

Oh crap! I also lived in a Shasta when I was a snowboard bum! It was an ’85 on an Econoline van frame, 23′ long. We painted an R over the S so it was the Rhasta. We smoked a lot of weed, hell selling weed was how we bought it in the first place.

Last edited 1 month ago by Is Travis
Drive By Commenter
Drive By Commenter
1 month ago

That looks cool! I’m a sucker for modern retro stuff. That hits all the buttons the same as a 1990’s Mexican Beetle. Finding a 1960’s barge to haul this camper around would be cool.

Joe The Drummer
Joe The Drummer
1 month ago

Barge? Heh. Since it’s just me and the wife, I’ll take one in teal (her favorite color) and white, towed by a 1961-63 “bullet ‘Bird” Thunderbird in Ford’s version of the same paint scheme. That 390 FE won’t even notice the extra weight.

Lizardman in a human suit
Lizardman in a human suit
1 month ago

Does anybody else wish winnibago made a retro Chieftain, in brown, with wings?

Joe The Drummer
Joe The Drummer
1 month ago

Literally any modern Winnebago with literally any retro three-color graphic.

Lizardman in a human suit
Lizardman in a human suit
1 month ago

But they don’t have secret hyperjets!

UnseenCat
UnseenCat
1 month ago

Honestly, those two recalls aren’t all that terrible. The window issue is most likely a supplier option — aggravated by the fact that nobody builds jalousie windows hardly at all any longer, and manufacturing lines weren’t exactly designed with them in mind.

Likewise, the tire clearance issue may be down to using or adapting the original blueprints while contending with modern tire/wheel size combinations — and the math didn’t quite work out.

SolamenteDave
SolamenteDave
1 month ago

There was a show I stumbled upon a few years back that instantly grabbed my attention. Flipping RVs aired on the Great American Country channel. No idea how I landed on it, but I went back and watched every episode they had. SUCH cool mid-century swag. And anytime they had a Shasta, I was especially enraptured. I thought the reissues were cool, but I would have loved to have gotten an original. Thankfully, time (and my wife saying “absolutely not”) has done its part to ease my old RV hankerin’.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
1 month ago

With those wings, I feel like you should pull a Shasta with a Mercury.
Perhaps I’m just weird, but these really appeal to me.
Eta: I’m seeing that 1960s Mercury Colony Park station wagons would be a great fit for this camper

Last edited 1 month ago by TOSSABL
Joe The Drummer
Joe The Drummer
1 month ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

I’m seeing a 1963 Mercury Monterey Breezeway, with the trick power rear window. Hey kids, reach back there and check the safety chains for Dad, will you? LOL

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
1 month ago

The woody half-arrow on those wagons really completes the look 🙂

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
1 month ago

Shastas were so damned cool!
It’s just a shame that Shasta didn’t continue down this path to some degree – and now produce plain raised boxes on open axles like everyone else.

Of course my Grandfather wouldn’t think Shastas were that cool since he was the President of his region’s Wally Byam Airstream club in the very early 70’s.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 month ago

Mercedes you making me crazy! Sure with cars and trucks making amodern car with all its advantages and upgrades while using a retro design is awesome. However trying to produce a new RV with retro design is not going to be successful because modern RV production is still as bad quality or worse but more expensive when it comes to RVs. I have learned this reading your articles. If the quality isn’t better isn’t retro just reproducing the same old crap?

Joe The Drummer
Joe The Drummer
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

Counterpoint: what if the plans from 1961 are better and more sound than the plans from 2024? What if simply building them as designed back then results in a better trailer than you can buy today? Are today’s recreational vehicles suffering from an execution problem, or is it a design problem?

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 month ago

You make great points however as far as RVs and trailers go it was crap then and crap now from what I have read here. But hey I may be wrong. I thought I was wrong once but it so happened I was mistaken.

Joe The Drummer
Joe The Drummer
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

From what I hear and read, my 1986 Fireball is better built than most any new camper trailer you can buy in 2024. Granted, not that build quality was ever that great in the recreational industry, but it has taken a nosedive even from that level.

If I had new-camper big money to spend on a travel trailer, I’d sooner restore the shell of an Airstream than buy anything brand new.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 month ago

Well your actual experience beats my reading. If I was going big money I’d chose to buy an old bus and do a custom build. I think it might be cheaper than some of these things.

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