Small Wonders

By Robert Plunket November 5, 2008

Florida’s vintage travel trailers are miracles of architecture.


By Robert Plunket


I went to BungalowFest in St Pete on Saturday, and while the old houses were very nice, the hit of the day were the vintage travel trailers. They had about six of them, from the 1940s through the ‘60s, and people were amazed by the use of interior space and how chic-ly they had been remodeled.


These types of trailers have been crucial to the development of the Gulf Coast of Florida. The Tin Can Tourists started driving down back in the 1920s, and, as the first snow birds, they set the pattern for the way we still live. The trailers became bigger and more elaborate and morphed into the mobile homes that still dot the landscape. Per capita-wise, we’re the trailer and mobile home capital of the world.


They are amazing pieces of architecture. Imagine – a little metal house you move from place to place. They have to be very well-designed to actually live in, and the ones on display were marvels of clever storage and making every square inch count.


Typically they have a living area in front (usually convertible to extra sleeping), then a tiny but well-equipped kitchen (one had granite countertops), then a bedroom and miniscule bath.



Also on display was a 1948 Vagabond model, still unrestored. It was a little larger that the rest, and you could probably live in it full time. Note the amazing birch paneled art deco interior.


The guy who is spearheading the restored trailer movement in the area is Marshall Lee. He bought the Avion model on Ebay for $1,400 and spent about $3,000 for a complete restoration. He has a website,, where you can find more info about trailers he has for sale and ones he is currently working on.
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