Home » You Could Own One Of The Best-Looking Truck Campers Ever Built

You Could Own One Of The Best-Looking Truck Campers Ever Built

1968 Chevrolet C20 Camper Ts3
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The vast majority of RVs out there feature just one boring level to camp out in. Some campers get a tad spicy with two levels, but they have nothing on what’s rolling across Bring a Trailer today. This is the Del Rey Sky Lounge, and it’s a super rare camper that technically has three levels. There’s a main floor, an observation deck, and a tiny bedroom at the tippy top. Did I also say that this is one of the best-looking truck campers ever built?

A number of readers have asked for more coverage of pickup truck slide-in campers. It’s easy to see why because truck campers offer a lot of advantages. Having the truck separated from the camping unit means you can upgrade or replace both separately. You can also remove the camper from your truck to use it as regular pickup again. Truck camper setups usually tend to be compact and you’ll often still be able to tow a trailer, too.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

The operative word above is “usually,” because some companies take the whole pickup truck camping idea to an almost comical extreme. Host Campers is a good modern example. Decades ago? Del Rey wanted to be the king of oversized truck campers. The Sky Lounge may be mid-century excess with a capital ‘E’ but it is one of a few campers you’ll appreciate looking at. This one comes paired with an equally stunning Chevrolet C20 CST Custom Camper underneath, this is the kind of camping rig you’ll want to take to car shows. Thank you for the latest tip, Hugh C!

Three Layers Of Awesome

1968 Chevrolet C20 Pickup 027 We

If you’re getting some Deja Vu vibes here, it’s because I wrote about a similar Del Rey almost three months ago. The Del Rey Sky Lounge was built to be a mid-century palace on the back of a pickup truck and it appears few have survived into the modern day. Despite that, a glistening example just failed to meet reserve on eBay and now a fantastic gold example is on Bring a Trailer.

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1968 Chevrolet C20 Pickup 018 We

Normally, I wouldn’t write about the same camper twice in such a short span of time, but this one is truck and camper combination is in vastly better shape than the one I wrote about a few months ago. We believe it deserves a highlight of its own. Maybe I can find a lot of money in my sofa cushions.

Del Rey Industries

This truck slide-in was built by what was once the largest producer of truck campers in America. William Overhulser created Del Rey Industries and along the way created inventions that are still in use today in the truck camper industry. From my previous article:

Overhulser was born in 1927 and lived most of his life in the Elkhart, Indiana area, earning a GED along the way. As the RV/MV Hall of Fame notes, in 1952, Overhulser started his career on the lines of Richardson Homes, one of the largest producers of manufactured homes. Overhulser’s stint at Richardson Homes lasted just five years because his real dream was to start his own company. That dream came true in 1957 when he opened Lil’ Sport Coach in Elkhart.

Del Rey Sky Lounge Camper Brochu
Del Rey Industries

Overhulser built those first travel trailers out of his family’s garage and later renamed his company Le’ Safari. Reportedly, this upset Airstream, the registered owner of that name. This forced one more name change to Del Rey Industries, which translates from Spanish into “of the king.”

Overhulser didn’t just build campers, either, as he sought to make RVs safer. The RV/MV Hall of Fame states that Overhulser, through Bock Industries, invented the camper jack that you’ll find attached to countless truck campers from the early 1960s and into today. Overhulser didn’t stop there. In 1969, he invented a new way to secure truck campers to truck beds. In 1999, well after his retirement, he invented a form of automatic emergency braking for trailers that utilized air tanks and a brake pedal for the towed trailer.

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Del Rey Industries

Overhulser sold his Del Rey firm to Gladding Industries in 1969, and it’s believed the company survived about another six years before ending production. As noted above, Overhulser didn’t spend his retirement fishing or on golf courses, but figuring out other ways to improve the RV experience.

The RV Industry Association says Overhulser was one of its founding members. It took until 2016 for Overhulser to be inducted into the RV Hall of Fame. Thankfully, he got to witness that before his passing in 2020.

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Fit For A King

1968 Chevrolet C20 Pickup 077 We

That brings us to the gorgeous combination before us today. This Del Rey Sky Lounge looks similar to the last Del Rey featured here, only that one was marketed as a “Deluxe Hunting Lodge” for families of six. That camper has the same floorplan as this one, but with different colors.

We know a bit more about this Del Rey than the last one. It is a 1966 model and Del Rey said these campers were built out of two-inch all glued wood construction. The side walls of each Del Rey are banded by steel strips. The floor is made out of 2 x 4s and thick aluminum serves as the camper’s siding and roof. Del Reys were marketed as all-season camping rigs featuring full fiberglass insulation. Other standard features included interiors made out of hardwood, plastic laminated countertops, a magazine holder, and anodized aluminum trim. Del Rey boasted that its hardwood interiors could be cleaned up and polished just like your furniture at home.

1968 Chevrolet C20 Pickup 479 We

1968 Chevrolet C20 Pickup 478 We

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Those features aren’t too impressive. What is fun is how Del Rey was able to fit six to eight people in a camper sitting in a truck bed. When you open the door, you start on the camper’s first floor. This has all of your basic (and heavy) amenities from a stove, icebox, holding tanks, and a bathroom. You’ll also see the dinette down there as well as some basic heating and cooling. Del Rey says these campers came with 30-gallon water tanks and some boondocking was possible thanks to the availability of 12V power and 110V shore power.

When you’re on the road, passengers can hop one level up into the Sky Lounge. This second level provided your kids or in-laws a panoramic view of the road ahead. Del Rey said the standard cushions were five inches thick, so things should have been relatively comfortable. Of course, there are no seatbelts up there, so crashing isn’t advised.

1968 Chevrolet C20 Pickup 492 We

1968 Chevrolet C20 Pickup 483 We

The Sky Lounge’s final trick comes when it’s time to sleep. Those seating areas turn into beds, but that’s not all. Behind the observation lounge is one more level, and it’s a tiny bedroom. There isn’t a ton of space in there, but it’s big enough to be a functional primary bedroom. Well, so long as you don’t mind tripping past your kids sleeping in the Sky Lounge on your way to the bathroom. That third level swings out of the way when you’re not sleeping to add more space.

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That’s how Del Rey marketed these rigs as tri-level campers. If you really wanted to flex on the campground, you could climb up the rear-mounted ladder and catch some rays on the roof. And you needed to have some cash for this as on top of the camper, Del Rey said you needed at minimum a three-quarter-ton truck to haul a Sky Lounge.

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Gateway Classic Cars

The other part of this equation is a 1968 Chevrolet C20 CST Custom Camper. This truck comes from the Chevy C/K’s second generation, which made its debut in 1967. Dubbed the Action Line, the second-generation C/K marked an evolution of Chevy’s workhorse from a truck that was just for work to one that was for play and daily driver duties, too. Chevrolet added carlike convenience features to these trucks and advertised them as trucks that drove like cars.

Updates to the C/K in its second generation include better corrosion resistance, and double-wall boxes, and most C10 and C20 trucks rode on coil spring trailing arm rear suspensions. The idea there was a smoother ride. Leaf springs were still available for hard-working C/Ks.

1967 Chevrolet Advertisement
Chevy

This truck comes in top-of-the-line CST trim, which made convenience features such as a cigarette lighter, brightwork, and thick carpeting as standard. CST trucks also could be optioned with bucket seats. The Custom Camper part of the C20’s name is what Chevrolet used to call its camper-spec trucks. Optioning your C20 as a Custom Camper netted it a higher GVWR and options like having camping wiring installed. Other options include heavy-duty springs, air-conditioning, a paint stripe, bucket seats, and more.

In addition to all of these goodies, this is also a Golden Anniversary truck, built to commemorate 50 years of Chevy trucks. That means a lot of gold inside and out. I hope you like gold!

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1968 Chevrolet C20 Pickup 311 We

1968 Chevrolet C20 Pickup 328 We

Power in the truck comes from a 396 cubic inch V8. Now, this was right at the end of measuring HP by gross, so you won’t be surprised to read that while Chevy advertised these engines as making 325 HP gross, or that’s just 220 HP net. At least net torque was 320 lb-ft, so that’s not bad. That power reaches the wheels through a three-speed automatic.

The truck has a pretty cool story, too. It was purchased new in 1968 from Capital Chevrolet in Denver, Colorado, and then stuck with its first owner for five decades. The original owner loved the truck so much that he had the original dealership cover the carpet in plastic. That plastic stayed there until the owner sold the truck through Gateway Classic Cars all of those decades later. The original owner even had the truck repainted in its original colors in 1991 to keep it looking fresh.

1968 Chevrolet C20 Pickup 498 We

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Modifications over the life of the truck include a dual-saddle fuel tank added in 1970, a dual exhaust in 1985, and 4:11 gearing added in 1990. The engine also saw upgrades in the form of a metal cam and crank sprockets and a new timing chain.

The current seller picked up the truck in 2023 and added the Del Rey Sky Lounge at that time. It’s unclear if the original owner had this truck hauling campers, but it’s doing that job today. The truck shows just 94,000 miles, but it looks far better than its age and mileage would suggest.

1968 Chevrolet C20 Pickup 403 We

I’m sure you have questions and I do, too. Thankfully, the seller has been happy to explain more. Despite appearances, the Del Rey Sky Lounge sits about a foot shorter than today’s often 12-foot-tall truck campers. It’s just 10 feet, 6 inches tall, which means even the infamous “Canopener Bridge” won’t touch it. Other good news is the fact that the truck still hits 10 mpg with the camper on top.

A Rare Chance At History

Some people like to say “they don’t make them like they used to” in regards to cars, motorcycles, and other machines. Sometimes, it’s spurious such as in regard to vehicle safety. In this case, I think the saying fits. You just won’t see truck campers like this in the modern day. In some regards, that’s a good thing. As cool as that observation deck is, I don’t want to picture a crash. Yet, at the same time, just look at this whole finished product and tell me it isn’t one of the coolest things you’ll see this week.

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1968 Chevrolet C20 Pickup 071 We

This Chevy truck and Del Rey camper combo is also a rare one. Most old campers die a sad death of rotting in fields. This one looks like it’s in the prime of its life. Who knows when you’ll see another like this? Okay, that logic may be iffy since another pristine example went up for sale just a few days ago. But a Del Rey isn’t something you’ll see every day.

Right now, bidding sits at $42,000 with 4 days to go on this glorious combination. I’m not sure if that’s a deal, but it sure it pretty. Either way, if you buy this thing you’ll be sure to snap necks everywhere you go.

(Correction: The original iteration of this post said the engine came from the Malaise Era. The author mixed “1968” with “1978.” We apologize for this and have corrected the error.)

(Images: Bring a Trailer Seller, unless otherwise noted.)

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Drh3b
Drh3b
19 days ago

Must be tough to remember to never go more than 3 mph around a corner, and just park it if it’s windy.

Davedave
Davedave
19 days ago

Forget a land yacht, that’s a land houseboat.

Matti Sillanpää
Matti Sillanpää
20 days ago

Must be pretty exiting if there’s any crosswind :D.

MikeInTheWoods
MikeInTheWoods
21 days ago

That truck and camper combination is gold on so many levels.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
21 days ago

That sky lounge, while looking very cool, wouldn’t fly these days in today’s safety-conscious world.

I can just imagine how badly anyone up there would do in a crash.

So while this would be unsellable in today’s world, I personally would let my family use it as is. But while they did that, I would drive VERY conservatively.

Six Inna Row Makes it Go
Six Inna Row Makes it Go
21 days ago

My siblings and I would have fought over those seats as a kid. I remember trips in our own motorhome (a 1977 Rally Master on an E-350 chassis) where we would stretch out on the bed and watch the road. Our feet dangling over our parents in the cab. Looking back now, I realize how freakin’ dangerous that was and am very thankful we never had an accident on our many road trips, but it also falls into that category of life-threatening things we Gen-X kids did while growing up.
The cool thing is that the Rally Master is still with us and my brother is fixing it up. It really is a 70s time capsule.

ProfessorOfUselessFacts
ProfessorOfUselessFacts
21 days ago

This is the wrong color, but it reminds me of Beezwax in Vigilante 8…

Idiotking
Idiotking
21 days ago

Buyer beware: it looks like all of the photos in that BaT listing have been color-shifted to the gold side of the spectrum. I’d want some properly calibrated photos to look at before I spent big $$ on that truck.

John Crouch
John Crouch
21 days ago

Why isn’t this the Autopian RV? Matching gold outfits!

Gene1969
Gene1969
21 days ago

I would love to know what the dry weight of that thing is.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
21 days ago

what a cool layout, reminds me of a split level house, which was also very popular at the time (I’ve never lived in one, but I’ve always really liked that system of space arrangement, using different levels to separate spaces and manage traffic flow instead of just partition walls, makes it all feel larger somehow)

I’ve sort of sworn off buying another RV, but if something like this were available at a reasonable price, it might be the thing to get be to break that. Doesn’t seem like much risk of that happening, though

RayJay
RayJay
21 days ago

Tippy top probably also describes how this monstrosity handles.

Derek van Veen
Derek van Veen
21 days ago

Very cool. I like the completely unsafe Sky Lounge.

Last edited 21 days ago by Derek van Veen
Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
21 days ago

This IS one of the coolest things I’ll see all week…Thank you! These are really interesting and unique. I read the previous article too about the hunting one. I really like the truck especially.
Yeah, if I had it I would put seatbelts in that observation deck- I can just see someone flying straight through that window. They are neat though. How does someone even fit to get in there and then to the bed? Oh yeah, I think it stated that it swings out of the way. It’s still overpriced some…also I think they have enough pics of it on the link…I’d say 580 is plenty!
“This is gold, Jerry…GOLD!”
“Levels…it’s all LEVELS!”

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
21 days ago

This is such a beautiful rig. My parrot and I could be very happy traveling the country in this. That’s my favorite generation Chevy pickup, so clean and simple. Love that gold cab interior. Alas, no $42k+ to indulge the purchase.

Last edited 21 days ago by Canopysaurus
Dodsworth
Dodsworth
21 days ago

The child in me wonders if that thing would float. Pontoons, an outboard motor, it looks the part.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
21 days ago

220 net/ 325 gross just tells you how horrible and restrictive the exhaust, intake, and accessory drive on this thing is. The aftermarket dual exhaust is probably a big part of why this thing can manage 10mpg; I bet it picked up a couple mpg from the exhaust improvement alone.

No wonder people get such good results out of just an intake and headers: the stock ones sucked apparently.

Vanillasludge
Vanillasludge
22 days ago

This is a beauty, but too many views of the 11’8” bridge Youtube channel has me thinking of horrible possibilities.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
22 days ago
Reply to  Vanillasludge

i guess you missed the part where it’s 10’6″ tall

Gene1969
Gene1969
21 days ago
Reply to  Vanillasludge

It was definitely made before the era of, “Can it fit through the drive through at Mc Donalds?”

Nic Periton
Nic Periton
22 days ago

I wonder how difficult it would be to install a speaking tube. Not a radio, I just like the idea of sitting on the bridge and whistling before and saying stuff like ” 90 degrees to port” and “all engines full” The helmsman and stoker would the say “aye aye cap’n “

UnseenCat
UnseenCat
21 days ago
Reply to  Nic Periton

This. Just imagine sitting up in the “bridge” that’s the Sky Lounge, with the “navigator” holding a paper map or a Rand McNally atlas, and the “captain” shouting orders down to the “helmsman” below on a speaking tube. The “radioman” should have the passenger seat and a CB radio.

(And when winding it out on steep hills, someone in the back of the camper yelling “I’m givin’ ye’ all she’s got, Cap’n!”)

Six Inna Row Makes it Go
Six Inna Row Makes it Go
21 days ago
Reply to  Nic Periton

I can picture adding a little ship’s wheel up there too. Not attached to the actual truck steering, of course. That might be a little too much.

Hangover Grenade
Hangover Grenade
22 days ago

I don’t want it, but I am glad it exists.

Jatkat
Jatkat
22 days ago

1968 is not in the malaise era 😉 The choking of outputs didn’t really start until the 1973 model year.

Jatkat
Jatkat
22 days ago
Reply to  Jatkat

I’d also like to add that with my experience with chebby motors, the 67-72 trucks had some of the finest small bocks the company produced in the pre-vortec era. I worked on a 67 c30 RV chassis with a 327, I swear you could balance a damn nickel on that thing while it was running. Just well built and well thought out. I learned to drive on a 71 k20 though, so I might be a little biased.

Jatkat
Jatkat
21 days ago

No problems! You can think of the squarebody as the malaise champion. Started production in 1973, ended in 91.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
21 days ago
Reply to  Jatkat

That’s right, the term “Malaise Era” was invented by former Jalopnik contributor Murilee Martin, and he defines it as 1973 (first oil crisis) to 1983 (when average horsepower levels began increasing again across the industry, after a decade+ of decline). He made it up out of thin air, so he gets to decide what it means, make up your own era name if you disagree, he owns that one.

Last edited 21 days ago by Ranwhenparked
Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
20 days ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

Well really the whole malaise thing was coined by Ronald Reagan, who managed to attribute it to a speech by Jimmy Carter.
Actually a pretty good speech but it turns out that nobody likes taking responsibility for anything, especially Republicans.

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2021/10/jimmy-carter-energy-crisis-malaise-speech-biden-supply-chain.html

Last edited 20 days ago by Hugh Crawford
Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
20 days ago
Reply to  Hugh Crawford

Not “Malaise Era” as it relates to cars, the term ultimately comes from what was retroactively referred to as Jimmy Carter’s malaise speech, but the car definition, and the use of the term to include the last year of Nixon’s presidency, all of Ford’s, and the first 2 years of Reagan’s, is entirely Ms. Martin’s invention.

TheBadGiftOfTheDog
TheBadGiftOfTheDog
22 days ago

That takes me back. I remember being up top of a two-level camper in the woods. At night I was awake on the padded bed and staring into the moonlit forest, scared out of wits a Bigfoot was lurking behind every twig. This was around the time Legend of Boggy Creek was in theaters and it was fresh in my mind.

Cars? I've owned a few
Cars? I've owned a few
22 days ago

It looks like it should have navigation lights on the port and starboard corners and a helm on the top level.

Jacob Rippey
Jacob Rippey
22 days ago

The only thing that could make this combo better is a modern 6.0 Vortec under the hood.

Jatkat
Jatkat
22 days ago
Reply to  Jacob Rippey

boooooo

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
22 days ago
Reply to  Jacob Rippey

Exchanging a big block for a small block never made anything better, ever. Especially not a 3/4 ton pickup.

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