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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(Images: Holiday House, unless otherwise noted.)
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