In the gray, cold wet days of winter, my thoughts naturally go back to last summer, which was the best one in many years. Not only was the weather superb, but we took full advantage of it, getting in more hiking and van trips than ever. On one such trip, we found ourselves in the tall pines at Camp Sherman, on the banks of the sublime Metolius River. And there in a parking lot, I found a ’63 Chevy pickup with a very woodsy homebuilt camper.
Yes, it’s a ’63, as these are easier to date than the ’64-’66. It was the last year for the wrap-around windshield and the first year for this grille. More importantly, under the otherwise familiar body there were big changes to its frame, suspension and drive train. In 1963, Chevy trucks ditched the independent torsion bar suspension and went with a conventional coils spring setup. The frame was a new ladder type, without center X elements and fewer curves, and the venerable 235 “Stovebolt” six was finally retired for the new 230 cubic inch six, along with the 292 inch version optional. The 283 V8, rated at 175 hp was also available. The 292 six was the better choice than the 283, as it had more torque and at lower engine speed.
This one has the standard three-speed manual, which was of course still the most popular choice for pickups then. A four speed with a “granny low” or Powerglide was optional.
The camper has a gypsy vardo style to it, something that was appropriated by the hippies way back.
I can’t help but wonder how old this camper is. I suspect it goes back a few decades, at least. The age of the truck only supports that theory.
The entry way.
And vintage wood windows.
Looks like it’s gotten a fresh coat of varnish not too long ago. I suspect this rig spends our wet winters under a roof, otherwise it would not have aged so well.
The Oregon Country Fair passes are to be expected in a rig like this. The oldest one is from 1992. That’s 27 years ago. Which rather confirms my rough guess as to its age.
Naturally my attention would be drawn to a ’60s vintage yellow half-ton pickup, so the camper was a bonus. And naturally my thoughts go to imagining an alternate history where I would have built a homemade camper like this for my old yellow truck.