Home » This Cute $8,000 Vintage Camper Comes Better Equipped Than Trailers Costing Thousands More

This Cute $8,000 Vintage Camper Comes Better Equipped Than Trailers Costing Thousands More

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Nowadays it seems you don’t get a lot when you spend a lot of money on a camper. Recently, I wrote about a teardrop trailer that started at $16,000 and it didn’t have a kitchen, a bathroom, or a shower. Then there was the $15,000 trailer that gave you a tiny galley, but still no bathroom. This 1965 Aristocrat Travelier beats them all. For just $8,000, you get a restored vintage trailer with everything you need for a cozy weekend away from home. Oh, did I say it also weighs just 1,500 pounds?

A lot of readers have voiced displeasure with the cost of RVs, and I don’t blame them. For most people, a car will be the second biggest purchase they will ever make, but you can spend a ton of money on toys. There are side-by-sides, snowmobiles, boats, RVs, and all sorts of motorcycles. All of these can end up costing more than the vehicle you might use to tow them. It’s bad enough that cars seem to be getting more expensive.

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So, it’s always warming to find something that’s inexpensive, yet attractive and useful. This 1965 Aristocrat Travelier hits all of those marks and more. I mean, just look at the thing. It’s the kind of trailer that would look fitting behind an AMC Rambler or a Tesla Cybertruck and nobody would accuse you of being boring.

From A Serial Entrepreneur

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The I.B. Perch Company of California and Idaho built aristocrat trailers. The man behind the operation was Irving Perch and he wasn’t the kind of guy to sit around doing nothing.

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According to the Mercury News, Perch always had something going on from his youth to his death in 2008 at the age of 80. The publication says it started with a stint in the Army, followed by work in a furniture store. Perch reportedly got his business sense from his father, who created the Perch family name from its original name Perlitch.

In the 1950s, Perch started his first business when he created a pickup truck bed camper with upscale features for the time including a dinette, a sink, a refrigerator, and a stove. Unfortunately, Perch sold few units, but he didn’t give up his plan to capitalize on America’s 1950s travel craze. Perch would reportedly work with a trailer manufacturer before purchasing an abandoned chicken processing plant for his next venture.

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Aristocrat was launched in 1956 and like the truck campers before, Perch set standards high. Aristocrat trailers would become known for having all of the comforts of home, including bathrooms and couches that converted into beds. Aristocrat trailers were built like planes were, but that wasn’t too special because that’s what Spartan, Bowlus, and Airstream pioneered decades before.

One of the innovations Aristocrat brought to market was the Lo-Liner, above. A common problem with travel trailer ownership even today is the fact that trailers are hard to store. The Aristocrat Lo-Liner solved this issue by measuring in just 13 feet long, allowing it to fit into a standard garage. But what about height? Aristocrat sold a set of compact metal wheels that, when installed, made your Lo-Liner short enough to fit through the door of a garage. When the Lo-Liner is parked in a garage, Aristocrat expected you to use the trailer as a spare bedroom, a playroom, a student workspace, or a sales office.

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What set Aristocrat apart was not just its luxury and quality, but the fact that Perch gave his trailers lifetime guarantees. That meant if you were the fourth owner of an Aristocrat, you could have taken your trailer to Perch’s facility and your trailer would have been refurbished for free. Reportedly, Perch saw his trailers as rolling advertisements, so of course he wanted them to look their best at all times.

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The I.B. Perch Company and Aristocrat eventually became one of the largest trailer manufacturers in America and cranked out thousands of more units than the competition from multiple factories. Reportedly, Perch sold the business in 1969 and decided to buy up 200 acres of land in Morgan Hill, California, the same town where a number of Aristocrats were built.

Perch’s plan for that land was a recreational complex called Hill Country, where families would get to enjoy museums with Perch’s collection of airplanes and cars, a golf course, and a restaurant. That restaurant was called the Flying Lady and was dedicated to his wife, a pilot. The first restaurant had 200 seats and was finished in 1971. The Flying Lady II restaurant followed in 1981 and this one was ginormous with three floors, seating for 2,000 people, vintage aircraft hung from the ceiling, and a conveyor system similar to the ones found in a dry cleaners “flew” model planes around the restaurant. Oh yeah, Perch was also an aviation fanatic.

Perch never gave up on his RV dreams and in between the two Flying Lady iterations he ran a short-lived camper company killed by the number of oil crises of the 1970s. Aristocrat also fizzled out in 1974. Perch was noted to be a pilot and his collection included rare birds like a 1929 Ford Tri-Motor. Reportedly, if Perch wanted to collect classic cars or planes he just bought entire collections from other enthusiasts. Perch even collected clown paintings and reportedly had the world’s largest stash of old license plates.

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Perch’s empire began unraveling in 1984 after a tragic incident involving a walkway collapse at the Flying Lady II. The restaurant was closed for an extended period for an investigation. Subsequent lawsuits drove the Flying Lady enterprise to bankruptcy by 1994.

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In the latter years of his life, Perch developed the Fold-N-Roll trailer and he even started baking cookies and apple turnovers. This trailer comes from the height of Perch’s travel trailer madness, and Aristocrat was pretty innovative.

This 1965 Aristocrat Travelier

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The 14-foot Aristocrat Travelier didn’t have any neat tricks with its wheels. Instead, Aristocrat pitched this trailer as a compact and lightweight to travel with most of the comforts of home. From what I could tell, the Travelier did not have a bathroom. Instead, it had bedding for 6 people in such a tiny space. In that 14 feet of space you also got electric brakes, a propane oven, a propane stove, and an icebox. A propane refrigerator was an option.

This Aristocrat Travelier has been restored into something a little different. For starters, a factory Travelier would have had semi-corrugated metal siding like most trailers of the 1960s. This trailer has been through a restoration, which included work on the frame as well as a full replacement of the siding. What you’re looking at is an all-aluminum panel exterior.

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Before we head inside, the trailer is noted to have a 200-watt solar panel on the roof, which feeds 100 Ah of battery power.

Inside, the trailer was gutted and rebuilt. This trailer no longer sleeps six. Instead, you’re getting two people at the most in there. However, those two people get to sleep on a memory foam mattress and benefit from a feature the original trailer didn’t have: A fully functional bathroom. Another neat addition is an air-conditioner.

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Across from the bed is a small kitchen featuring a retro-style electric refrigerator, a vintage three-burner stove, and a sink. Thankfully, whoever did the refurbishment of this trailer decided to keep the trailer’s tanks. It isn’t said what you get for fresh water, but the black tank is noted to be 18 gallons.

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The seller notes that the plumbing is new, as are the window seals, tires, and wheels. So, you should be getting something that you can sleep in right now without further modifications. The best part is the price and the weight. The seller claims the trailer now weighs 1,500 pounds, which would be lighter than stock. Also neat is the $8,000 price. That’s cheaper than the vast majority of new trailers out there, far cheaper than most restored trailers, and you get a ton of kit for what you pay for. If you’re in love like I am, the trailer can be picked up in Phoenix, Arizona.

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This might be one of my favorite vintage trailers thus far in 2024. It’s that perfect mix of light enough to be towed by almost anything, filled to the brim with features you want, and won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Plus, it looks so cool you could tow it behind anything. I’m glad I don’t have the space or funds for another vehicle because I’d be on my way to Arizona right now.

(Images: Facebook Seller, unless otherwise noted.)

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Chairman Kaga
Chairman Kaga
2 months ago

This thing is ideal. My in-laws are big into RVing but have this triple-slide monstrosity that sort of invites them to just sit inside and watch TV all day. If I’m camping I want to be outside, but have a nice place to sleep, cook, and poo. For less than $10k? That’s the sweet spot, AND it’s towable by a Highlander.

WM
WM
2 months ago

8 Grand?! What’s wrong with it? There’s way more than $8000 worth of work in it

Lightning
Lightning
2 months ago

Thanks for this story! One of the most memorable days of my childhood was visiting the Flying Lady for an R/C fly-in in the early ’80s. The interior of the restaurant and watching a ton of R/C airplanes fly around all day were both amazing for this kid who loved reading R/C Modeler and Model Airplane News magazines at the local branch library. Unfortunately, I never got into the hobby, but RC planes and airplanes in general were on my mind all the time as a kid.

James Carson
James Carson
2 months ago

Very cool buggy Mercedes. You alway treat us with a diverse transportation menu.

SYKO Simmons
SYKO Simmons
2 months ago

That’s a helluva deal! Great backstory just sucks one mishap can crush what sounded like the true American dream. I got a 62 airstream on ice, that I plan on starting to restore later this year … Nothing new even compares.

Mark Tucker
Mark Tucker
2 months ago

As owner of a ’66 Aristocrat Land Commander (the “big” model, at a whopping 17 feet and 2,200 pounds), I can vouch for the quality. Ours is largely original, and still in presentable shape, though one of my goals over the next few years is to remodel the inside.

By the way, if you want to see a really adorable trailer, look up the Arisocrat Li’l Loafer…

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
2 months ago
Reply to  Mark Tucker

Do I need to keep safe search on for the Aristocrat Li’l Loafer?

Aaron
Aaron
2 months ago

The additional living space concept was ahead of it’s time! That’s something the industry is just now starting to lean into. For example, Pebble is billing their Flow as an ADU first that happens to be highly mobile. I’m also working on setting up my E-Pro to be a guest space when not in use.

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
2 months ago

That guy’s ideas about fitting the trailer inside a standard garage and using it for additional living space is BRILLIANT!!!

Man With A Reliable Jeep
Man With A Reliable Jeep
2 months ago

Forget WFH, I’m ready for WFT!

Spartanjohn113
Spartanjohn113
2 months ago

That’s my dream one day, working next to the campfire with a high-speed satellite internet connection and jumping in Lake Michigan once the day is done. Though it might have to be my retirement…based on my ridiculously tiny 401k and housing costs.

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