Truck Camper Magazine Blog

Classic Camper Restoration: Worth It? Or Money Pit?

In 1986, Tom Hanks and Shelley Long starred in The Money Pit, a Steven Spielberg produced comedy about a couple going completely out of their minds trying to restore a house that won’t stop falling apart around their ears.  As you might imagine, it’s part-funny, part-tragedy, and completely over the top.  Let’s just say Tom doesn’t talk much about the film during interviews.

Anyway, there’s a particularly funny scene when Tom’s character, Walter Fielding, is almost killed (and impressively launches a turkey) after flipping a simple light switch.  Do not miss Tom’s laugh at the end of this hysterical clip.  It may be the best movie laugh of all time.

Most homeowners can relate to the experience of spending more on a house repair than they had planned.  Living with kitchens, bathrooms, and other living areas out of commission, dealing with contractors, and fighting with insurance companies is enough to make anyone laugh like Tom.

Classic Truck Campers

Having seen our fair share of campers in disrepair by their 10th birthday, it’s amazing that some are still on the road and serviceable after 20 years, or more.  In fact, we have seen a number of beautifully restored truck campers that originated in the late 60s and early 70s.  A few of these units are approaching the half-century mark.

Now that we own a 12-year old truck camper, we deeply appreciate the challenges of keeping an older truck camper and its various systems up and running.  The main challenge is almost always seal maintenance.  Then the various systems, wiring, plumbing, detectors, and other components present minor issues on a regular basis.  That’s to be expected with an older camper, but it’s not exactly fun.  So why do people restore classic truck campers?

Pick A Hobby: Truck Camper Restoration or Truck Camping Travel

In some ways, I believe it boils down to two very different approaches to owning a truck camper.  Most of us own a camper to go truck camping, and deal with the required maintenance and repairs as necessary.

A few of us own a truck camper because we enjoy working on the camper; restoring, maintaining, repairing, modding, etc.  These folks love working on their campers, and then enjoy truck camping as a bonus.

Again, there’s a parallel to folks who own classic cars.  Some want to buy a classic car that’s all fixed up, admire it in their garage, drive it to car meets, and take it out on Sunday afternoons.

Other guys want to discover and purchase a beat up classic car, and spend their free time restoring it to new.  Once it’s done, they sell it to the first guy, and buy another beat up classic to restore.

More Than Money: Why Do This?

Unlike the classic car marketplace, there isn’t much of a demand for classic or vintage truck campers.  For example, you can’t buy a beat up truck camper for $5,000, fix it up, and sell it for $25,000.  You can do that with the right 60’s Mustang, but maybe not with a 60’s Alaskan, Avion, or Amerigo truck camper.

Then again, not every hobby or project needs to make fiscal sense.  Lord knows all the money I’ve spent fixing up and modifying tube amplifiers from the 50s and 60s.  Are the tube amps worth more fixed up?  You bet, but not enough to make sense of the money and time invested.  I don’t care because I love their sound and ownership experience.  No regrets.

This week we want to hear from folks who have restored truck campers that are at least 20 years old.  Tell us about your experience, and whether you believe it was worth it.  If possible, please include photographs of your camper during and after your work.  We can’t wait to see what you’ve done, and hear your restoration story.

This week’s Question of the Week is, “Is restoring a classic or vintage truck camper worth it?”

Please fill out the form below to participate in this week’s QOTW.  If you have them, please also send pictures of your camper before and after the restoration.

Truck Camper Information

Founded in 2007, Truck Camper Magazine is a free online magazine dedicated to the exciting go anywhere, camp anywhere, tow anything lifestyle of truck camping.

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