Along For the Ride: Renovating a Vintage Camper, Living the Dream


Little gets me as excited as actualizing a dream wherein my gypsy alter ego exists in harmony with my uber rational, always pragmatic dude. That’s what happened when we decided, together, to renovate a vintage Shasta camper.

If you’re not familiar with the trailers, here’s a little background: the Shasta camper became popular during the middle of the 20th century, when recreational camping was having its Zeitgeist moment. Many Shastas—then an affordable alternative to other brands like the iconic Airstream—were manufactured right here in Southern California, so it’s not uncommon to spot one while slip sliding through L.A.’s canyons or the nearby countryside on weekend road trips. They are easily identified by their wings.

The inspiration: Meet Coral. She is what we strive towards with our reno. “Coral” for Enjoy Cupcakes by Jose Villa.

After some Craigslist scouring I found what we were looking for, a Shasta 16-SC in need of some love. I was interested in making the investment —a well haggled $1,200 to get us started—because I’m moved by the free loving lifestyle the camper represents. Don’t let that number fool you though. A newly restored model16-SC can sell for as much as $25,000. We have a lot of work ahead of us.

I don’t expect to be glamping anytime soon, though I often catch myself fantasizing about future Instagram snaps showing off our trailer’s varied textures in perfect lighting at dusk. I’m inspired by the idea of Stevie Nicks and Steve Jobs on a romantic getaway. Just imagine the Southern California adventures the chanteuse and techie would find together—and the simple, yet luxurious look of their hypothetical love camper. My boyfriend on the other hand is excited to apply his physical engineering talents to problem solving in a small space.

Now we are on the hunt for a space that is large enough to accommodate the camper and our power tools while she gets flipped inside out and re-paneled. It’s going to take some time and we don’t have enough room to do this at our home in Santa Monica. Meanwhile, we’ll be busy cruising the Internet for inspiration as we decide on details like tiny kitchen cabinetry, solar panel installation, multi-purpose seating/sleeping/storage space, and the intricate options for the toilet. I’m drawing up plans on my Wacom tablet and pinning all of the images I like to help explain my woodworking requests to the dude. (Quarter inch paneling cut and laid on the floor in a Chevron pattern is my current if lofty idea. I consider it a compromise for his must-have WIFI and Xbox One installation plans that must be pre-configured before we rewire and re-panel.

As the process unfolds, I’ll be unveiling the fantastic, the gory, and the mundane on, so check there for routine delivery of less-than perfect pictures and details about trailer vents, wiring, and licensing issues. Want to stick to the pretty stuff? Follow my Pinterest board instead.

Betsy Moyer is a North Carolinian living in Los Angeles. Part bohemian and part fish out of water, she’s interested in what makes Angelenos unique and shares her lifestyle and fashion musings here on the Clutch. She also sings in a band, dabbles in thrifting and home décor, and blogs about blogging. Follow her daily on Instagram, Twitter, or at her blog,