Home » This Classy Camper Looks Like It Comes From The 1960s But It’s Actually New

This Classy Camper Looks Like It Comes From The 1960s But It’s Actually New

Holiday Housetop
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Last week, I was doing my usual searches on Facebook for unique cars, trucks, and campers that I cannot afford to buy when I saw something that effectively twisted my brain. I saw the very same vintage camper that’s at the top of this article, looking like a perfect restoration of 1960s travel trailer art. But the listing said it was not something over a half-century old, but a camper that was built in 2021. What you’re looking at here is a Holiday House, and it’s a vintage camper you can buy brand new.

As many of our readers know by now, I love digging into the history of recreational vehicles. Today, so many RVs are the same that it can be amazing to see just how different campers used to be from one another. There have been so many individuals and companies building campers that I’m sure I’ve barely cracked the surface of truly unique sleeping machines out there. That’s why I try to dig as deep as possible to find the orphaned and forgotten RVs. I thought I found another one when I stumbled upon a Holiday House 24TB Deluxe on Facebook Marketplace. Then I saw the model year and its modern appliances.

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Holiday House

These trailers are built by Holiday House Recreational Vehicles. While the trailers you’re looking at today are new, the company’s name is one with a lot of history.

As the company notes, the Holiday House name was created in 1959 by David Holmes. Back then, Holmes was president of Harry & David, a mail-order fruit gift basket company from Medford, Oregon. Holmes had a problem as demand for fruit baskets was low from January to July, leaving his skilled workers without much to make.

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Apparently, this was the perfect opportunity for Holmes to flex his love for modern design and his lifelong interest in campers. When Holiday House production kicked off on November 2, 1959, the trailers featured a typical build for the day. Holiday House trailers featured wooden framing with aluminum skin and a steel chassis. What made Holiday House stand out was its space-age design, which remains striking today, more than six decades later.

During the short lifespan of Holiday House, Holmes enlisted the help of industrial designer Charles “Chuck” Pelly. In those days, Pelly was known for designing the Scarab sports car for Lance Reventlow. Later, Pelly’s resume would include founding Designworks/USA and working on BMW designs including the X5, Z4, 3 Series, and Rolls-Royce. Other highlights of Pelly’s career include set design for the television show Lost in Space, the interiors of Disney’s California monorails, and the Chaparral 1 racer.

Pelly is also credited with designing the Holiday House Geographic, a fantastic limited-production fiberglass camper with a mid-century modern design, an original price tag of $8,500, and was marketed as a “Trailer For The Rich” with lavish appointments.

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Hal Thomas Photography/Flyte Camp

Holiday House offered up units in lengths between 17 and 24 feet, but they were never good sellers. Holmes’ pivot to campers wasn’t full time and the travel trailers were built only during the slow months for Harry & David. It’s believed that less than 200 units were built between 1960 and 1961. The Geographic saw even fewer units built with perhaps just 7 to 10 constructed. Of those, there’s one known survivor. Production ceased in January 1962 and a fire burned down the factory that June. The molds that survived the fire were later discarded.

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In the decades since Holiday House’s closure, multiple brands have purchased the name and haven’t done anything with it. At one point, even Holiday Rambler owned the Holiday House name but didn’t build Holiday House campers. In 2014, Holiday House’s long slumber was broken when inTech RV joined forces with RV executive Mark Lucas to continue where Holmes left off. The new Holiday House started building trailers in 2017 and considers its units a continuation series.

The New Holiday House

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While the new Elkhart, Indiana, company calls these a continuation of the old campers, they are updated for the modern day. Like an inTech camper, a new Holiday House utilizes aluminum for its primary structure. The frame is aluminum, as are the box’s walls and roof. Much like inTech, Holiday House advertises its trailers as lasting long without the mold, mildew, and rotting you’ll sometimes get in trailers with wood framing and fiberglass-covered plywood walls. That said, plywood does sit on top of the trailer’s roof with R14 spun fiberglass insulation.

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Like the original Holiday House campers, each is built by hand on a contract basis. The interior is filled with hardwood paneling and the cabinetry is also solid wood and constructed in-house. Holiday House also boasts a clean wiring design, no usage of paper or vinyl, and the floor is a single piece of water-resistant composite material. Really, I like to think of these as an inTech but with a Mid-Century design.

Holiday Houses come in three sizes with the same basic design for each of them. There’s the 18RB with its 20 feet, 11 inches of length and 3,250-pound base weight, the 24SC that comes in at 26 feet, 9 inches long, and 4,580 pounds, and the 30 foot 7 inch 27RQ and its 4,985-pound dry weight.

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Holiday House is so small it doesn’t seem to have real promotional images. What you see here are pictures taken by someone at Holiday House before a camper got delivered to a customer. That taped-on panel protects the front from rock chips during transportation.

Anyway, no matter your choice of length, you get a 30-gallon fresh water tank, 28 gallons for your sink and shower, and 28 gallons for the nasty stuff. The biggest differences in the sizing are storage, seating, and bedding. The 18RB gets a tiny shower, a convertible dinette, and a convertible gaucho sofa. Meanwhile, the 24SC has a real bathroom with a tub and a real sofa while the 27RQ has all of that plus a master bedroom. The two larger models ride on tandem axles while the baby 18RB has a single axle.

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In terms of amenities, the camper isn’t really doing anything new. Standard equipment includes a full kitchen with a stainless steel stove and microwave, a full bathroom in the larger two models, and an air-conditioner with a heat pump. I won’t go through the whole list, but it’s a very standard list of equipment.

There are a few things that stick out such as the porcelain toilet, powder-coated exterior, and classy metal trim around the wood in the interior. The trailer also sports a black tank cleaning system and an aluminum entry step.

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The 18RB’s interior

Annoyingly, Holiday House does not advertise pricing on its page. Instead, I had to find the brand’s Facebook group and run a search. The 18RB’s price wasn’t listed aside from being noted to be more than $40,000. A 24SC will set you back at least $75,300 while the 27RQ comes in at $82,935. So, these are definitely expensive trailers.

Really, what I see here is a great way to have the best of both worlds. The new Holiday Houses look like they’re from the 1960s but have a thoroughly modern interior. Plus, because they’re built nice and slow rather than cranked out at lightspeed, they should have a bit better quality than some of the other campers coming out of Elkhart nowadays.

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(Images: Holiday House, unless otherwise noted.)

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Wpmaceri
Wpmaceri
7 months ago

I really enjoyed your piece on the new Holiday House travel trailer. I was 10 years old in 1965, and I was a mini Gearhead regarding the Big Three brands. I made a point of knowing everything about every model year from Ford Motor Company, the Chrysler Corporation and even GM. I’ve never been to fond of the GM brands, except for the Pontiac Division. The Pontiacs were always the best looking GM cars all through the 60s. To me, GM didn’t build cars with the concept of great engineering or reliability. GM was so big that they didn’t care about building great cars, they were GM they didn’t have to. I came from a family that only drove Chryslers and Fords. Around 1965, my dad and my uncle bought travel trailers. We first started by renting them each year, but when it was decided that we loved trailer life, my uncle bought a 1961 16 foot Aljo. It was fairly unique because it had a cabover design to accommodate up to 8 people. It was good-looking, and came with a propane powered refrigerator, although it wasn’t self contained. It was cool. In 1969 my dad bought a new 17 foot Aristocrat Land Commander. At the time, Aristocrat had a very good reputation as well as being very good looking. I became a total RV Gearhead. I loved the whole idea of towing a trailer behind cars and pick-up trucks. I knew all the brands, Floorplans, the features of each brand and everything you needed to know about trailer hitches, tongue weights and all the appliances. I even worked at an Aristocrat dealer, keeping the display models clean and I did customer check outs, doing a walk around explaining how to hitch them to the tow vehicles and how to use the appliances, water systems, the bathroom details and holding tanks, and loved every minute of it. We used to take weekend trips all around California, and in the summer we would take off for two weeks and head to the High Sierras. Camping and RVs was over the top popular, we would have to plan our arrivals for Sunday mornings and we would still have to wait for a site to become available. It was still fun and there’s no place like the Eastern Sierras when it comes to beauty and interesting geological formations and features. In my opinion the Sierras are the most beautiful places in America. We also ski Mammoth Mountain in the winter. It seemed RVing was here to stay. The RVs became more luxurious and had everything to offer to make it be as comfortable as home. But then, the 1973 oil crisis hit and everything changed overnight. That damn crisis changed everything about America, and not for the better. Detroit was in a tailspin, and that effected the RV industry. It was horrible. I believe America has never really recovered from it. Detroit took years to start building cars that were much more efficient. But it was a death blow to the thriving RV industry. So many manufacturers left the business, and many never came back. The only one to survive was Airstream. They were the top brand in the 60s and every one knew it. Today we have a lot of new RV brands that kinda all look the same and many have become toy haulers. I plan to return to the RV lifestyle, but I will go with a either a class A or C class, most likely a class C. I did have a 98 33 foot Fleetwood Southwind class A motorhome, I loved it so much but when it took $750 to filling the gas tank it became to expensive, and since it would only get 8 to 10 mpg, we couldn’t afford to use it. That really sucked, I waited until I could afford to buy one, and then that damn energy crisis ruined everything and I hate that! I will have another one but most likely be a smaller one. I guess we have become used to it, because I do see a lot of them on the road these days, and I will one day soon be a part of it again. When I owned the Southwind, my dad used to tell me it was like a big hole in the road that I constantly threw money in. To be honest, he was right.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
8 months ago

What’s with all the in use trailers having a slab of foam insulation duct taped to the bottom front?

Gerontius Garland
Gerontius Garland
8 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

It literally says in the article it’s to prevent rock chips during shipping.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
8 months ago

I literally missed that. Thanks.

Ron888
Ron888
8 months ago

The vintage looks are cool.I’m sure someone will love that.
The insides not so much.How does anyone like so much fake brown with cheap looking joints?

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
8 months ago

I’ve seen one of the new ones looking all shiny at the hipster RV Park in Bend.
I wasn’t aware of the history but in light of the Harry and David tie ea h trailer should come with some Kiwi fruit since they are credited with coming up with a catchy name for the Chinese Gooseberry.
Based on critiques in the comments I think a Lance trailer would be better value. since they have a reputation for top quality and are slightly less money

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
8 months ago

I think it would do better as a traveling carry food wagon.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
8 months ago

But it doesn’t have any swooshy swirly decals down the side – how are other people supposed to know its a fancy camper if it doesn’t have dumb swooshes and swirls all down the side?

Last edited 8 months ago by Ranwhenparked
Wpmaceri
Wpmaceri
7 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

Oh man, you are absolutely right about the fancy swirly side decals. We don’t need all that. I often wonder who decided we needed that. We don’t.

Arrest-me Red
Arrest-me Red
8 months ago

Saw one at a show. It was falling apart by the end. Like the concept, needs better construction.

Black Peter
Black Peter
8 months ago

There’s the 18RB with its 20 feet, the 24SC that comes in at 26 feet, and the 30 foot 7 inch 27RQ.

I see they have an ex-BMW engineer naming these things..

ADDvanced
ADDvanced
8 months ago

So I get what they are trying to do, but I don’t think it’s working. End of the day, if you peel off the nostalgia, it has all the same longevity problems as most other campers:

Slab sided styling is not strong, and does not shed water. Horizontal roofs and right angles are just asking for leaks which…cause kill campers made with plywood (rots out) and fiberglass batts (hold moisture)
Edit: Didn’t see they used composite flooring, that is AWESOME and should be an industry standard. I would not buy a camper with a plywood floor.

Last edited 8 months ago by ADDvanced
Wpmaceri
Wpmaceri
7 months ago
Reply to  ADDvanced

Your right about the sharp, square corners. My 98 33 foot Southwind had a rubber roof that rolled over the sides. There it met the Fiberglass sides I always thought that made good sense. All the windows and the door also had rounded corners and the windows and the door sorta floated in their placement. I thought that was a good idea too.

Ben
Ben
8 months ago

Surprised to see them still using batt insulation in an expensive trailer in 2023. I thought it was generally accepted that the vacuum-bonded foam stuff is superior in almost every way for trailer building.

no usage of paper or vinyl, and the floor is a single piece of water-resistant composite material.

So…expensive vinyl then. 😛

Timbales
Timbales
8 months ago

That Holiday House Geographic is gorgeous.

Gerontius Garland
Gerontius Garland
8 months ago
Reply to  Timbales

Yeah, that’s the one they should be replicating.

Strangek
Strangek
8 months ago

The next time my fruit basket company is going through hard times, we’re definitely switching to RV production. No more turning tricks for me!

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
8 months ago
Reply to  Strangek

What am I and all your other loyal customers to do then?

Ana Osato
Ana Osato
8 months ago

Metric units?

Space
Space
8 months ago
Reply to  Ana Osato

Kilograms, metres, and newtons.

3WiperB
3WiperB
8 months ago

I didn’t know the new version existed. They did a nice job blending all the wood with the new appliances. This actually looks the part of vintage inside, unlike most of the RV’s that were a part of the brief vintage craze a few years ago.

The strip of wood on the walls between panels, the kitchen counters with the metal trim band, and many other touches are straight out of a mid 60’s trailer. This appears to be a trailer that will hold up for many years and wouldn’t look out of place at a vintage trailer rally. They did a great job of making it look like a vintage Holiday House. And a nice vintage Holiday House is not cheap either… it’s one of the most expensive vintage trailers, outside of something like a vintage Bowlus or something really rare or unusual.

Chris Johnson
Chris Johnson
8 months ago

It just wouldn’t look right being pulled behind my F250. What car would look appropriate to pull one of these spectacular looking campers?

Rexracer
Rexracer
8 months ago
Reply to  Chris Johnson

Restomod (old body, new drivetrain) Suburban…

3WiperB
3WiperB
8 months ago
Reply to  Chris Johnson

1960’s M-Series or F-Series Truck. I always liked the Mercury version just because it’s a little different or more unusual in the US, but they both have the look.

pizzaman09
pizzaman09
8 months ago
Reply to  Chris Johnson

A vintage Jeep pickup. Preferably with the shark nose front end and sun visor above the windshield.

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
8 months ago
Reply to  Chris Johnson

Everyone always throws out vintage pick-ups and Suburbans for a tow vehicle for retro/vintage trailers. However, back when these were new, it was big American family sedans and wagons being used to pull them. Find a late 60’s Chrysler New Yorker with a 440.

Wpmaceri
Wpmaceri
7 months ago

My dad pulled our 17 foot Aristocrat Land Commander that weighed about 2600 lbs dry, with a 69 Chrysler 300 with a 440 4 barrel carburetor and a 727 Tourqueflight transmission. That Chrysler handled that Aristocrat like it wasn’t even there. Pulling it up the steep grades in the Sierras were no problem at all. We never had to stop at the side of the road to let the engine cool off. That Chrysler 300 was one powerful car, and it was good looking too.

Wpmaceri
Wpmaceri
7 months ago
Reply to  Wpmaceri

How about a late 50s Dodge Custom Sierra wagon, that would definitely fit nicely.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
8 months ago
Reply to  Chris Johnson

“What car would look appropriate to pull one of these spectacular looking campers?”

The Lost in Space ship. It may not have been a “car” but it sure looked like the hubcap of one.

Gilbert Wham
Gilbert Wham
8 months ago

That geographic is beautiful. Only 2 left in the world? Of course, of course. 🙁

Shop-Teacher
Shop-Teacher
8 months ago

That’s really cool. How many kajillion dollarbucks do they cost?

Andrew Wyman
Andrew Wyman
8 months ago
Reply to  Shop-Teacher

Based on the article, $40-80K

Goose
Goose
8 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Wyman

Look at this loser. He reads. What a nerd!

Shop-Teacher
Shop-Teacher
8 months ago
Reply to  Goose

Right!?! UGH! I’m such an idiot. I SWEAR I READ IT!

What a dumbass I am.

Shop-Teacher
Shop-Teacher
8 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Wyman

Le sigh. I swear I read the article. Apparently I’m just a fuggin’ moron.

Also, as expensive as that is, it’s less that I was expecting.

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
8 months ago
Reply to  Shop-Teacher

Not a moron my friend. I had to read it twice to find the cost also.

While these are cool, I just can’t get into the dark wood interiors. Retro outside is cool but there has to be another way to do the interiors. 60 year old style interiors are just depressing, and my meds are not strong enough to overcome that. I can almost smell that 1950-60s interior through my laptop. YMMV.

Last edited 8 months ago by Col Lingus
Shop-Teacher
Shop-Teacher
8 months ago
Reply to  Col Lingus

Yeah, fair point. At least they didn’t use a dark stain though.

Mike N.
Mike N.
8 months ago

Does anyone make trailers with interiors built out of modern lightweight materials instead of the particle board heavy 70s ranch house looking interiors the most seem to come with?

Loudog
Loudog
8 months ago
Reply to  Mike N.

Depends on the size. If big, your best bet is to rebuild an Airstream to your spec, or look at one of these: https://lightshiprv.com/ For smaller, we have a Happier Camper HC1 and really like it for faster trips. No wood in that one, fiberglas and steel frame with plastic modular interior. Great for camping or cargo.

Man With A Reliable Jeep
Man With A Reliable Jeep
8 months ago

And now we have an idea of what it costs to get a trailer that doesn’t have the build quality of a Ritz box…

OverlandingSprinter
OverlandingSprinter
8 months ago

Amen. I’m not a trailer guy, although I restomoded a 1966 Shasta 20 years ago, which brings me to my point. I love the aluminum floor and wall framing. Were money no object, this is the travel trailer I would build. The interior finishing seems tasteful, too. My only concern would be the roofing. Is it a membrane? What’s the service interval on the roof?

Greg
Greg
8 months ago

I’d like a non-batt insulation as well, just incase. Some foam would make me feel better. That was really the only big thing I saw that would worry me. But..it’s still and rv and I can’t trust them.

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