It’s a truck camper! It’s a boat! It’s a truck camping boat? Animal Planet’s Flipping Ships dredges up an Avion truck camper, and sets it to sea. The amphicamper is back!
For over sixty years, there’s been a strong correlation between truck campers and boating. Even today, 38.3% of Truck Camper Magazine readers checked that they tow a boat behind their rig for the 2016 reader survey. Truck campers and towable boats are like tie-downs and turnbuckles, dump stations and hoses, and cats and cabovers – clearly meant to be together.
Given the long history, and the unbridled ingenuity (AKA mad mod-making mentality) truck campers often display, it’s no surprise that a few trailblazing fellas over the years have commingled truck campers and boats to make something of a hybrid; part truck camper, part boat, and bit nuts.
1960 Cee-Camp: The Original Amphicamper
We first reported about this crazy-but-true amphicamper concept seven years ago after coming across a September 1960 article in Ford Times titled, “Amphibious Pickup Camper: Recreation Unlimited In The West”.
The Ford Times article had three photographs of a Cee-Camper, a “Pontoon Sports Body” truck camper by Copeland Engineering.
As the name implies, the 1,000-pound, 10-foot Cee-Camper mounted onto a pickup truck in the same manner as a standard truck camper. What was anything but standard were the two 12-foot by 30.5-inch by 14.5-inch wood and fiberglass pontoons overlapping the length of the Cee-Camper fore and aft.
According to the Ford Times piece, these pontoons featured double floors and nine airtight flotation compartments.
Sea Launch to Land Load
To launch the Cee-Camp, the owner would swing the two pontoons 180-degrees from the camper roof to the ground. Once in the sea-going position, the pontoons were secured with pins. With the turnbuckles released and removed, the truck carrying the Cee-Camp was then backed into approximately 7-inches of water allowing the two pontoons to become buoyant.
The owner would then push the Cee-Camp into the water, drive the truck off the loading dock, and climb up the pontoon “gangplanks” for a cruise.
The Cee-Camp featured a 40-horsepower outboard motor and could do 30 miles per hour (25 knots) to support water skiing. That’s right folks, our truck camping forefathers were literally water skiing from their truck campers 56 years ago. And we think we’re so cool with our slide-outs and solar panels. Ha!
For de-mounting the Cee-Camp on dry land, the pontoons were lowered into their sea-going position on 5-inch blocks, and secured with pins. The blocks raised the unit enough to allow the truck to drive out from underneath the Cee-Camp, and subsequently load it again.
Once re-loaded from land or sea, the pontoons would be swung onto the roof of the camper and, again, secured with pins. When the blocks were stowed, turnbuckles affixed, and truck-to-camper umbilical cord connected, the Cee-Camp rig was ready to hit the road; waterway to highway.
Above: Note the Cee-Camp “Pontoon Sports Body” located mid-center in this 1961 Ford Times advertisement