Outdoors

American Dream Trailer revives vintage camper with rowboat roof

American Dream Trailer revives...
American Dream has brought back the classic boat-trailer
American Dream has brought back the classic boat-trailer
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The boat lets up to three people row or motor around the lake
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The boat lets up to three people row or motor around the lake
The Trailorboat-based Classic American Dream camper explores land and water
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The Trailorboat-based Classic American Dream camper explores land and water
The boat removes via five latches and a separate roof makes the camper unit a self-contained shelter
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The boat removes via five latches and a separate roof makes the camper unit a self-contained shelter
The tailgate provides space for gear and food prep
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The tailgate provides space for gear and food prep
Inside the Classic American Dream camper
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Inside the Classic American Dream camper
American Dream has brought back the classic boat-trailer
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American Dream has brought back the classic boat-trailer
The Classic American Dream Trailer is based on the original Trailorboat from the early 60s
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The Classic American Dream Trailer is based on the original Trailorboat from the early 60s
American Dream is a Portland, Oregon-based company
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American Dream is a Portland, Oregon-based company
Classic American Dream Trailers
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Classic American Dream Trailers
At just 650 lb, the Classic American Dream is a light, versatile trailer that makes for easy towing with a variety of vehicles
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At just 650 lb, the Classic American Dream is a light, versatile trailer that makes for easy towing with a variety of vehicles
Classic American Dream Trailer
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Classic American Dream Trailer
A retro road trip
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A retro road trip
Classic American Dream Trailer
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Classic American Dream Trailer
Classic American Dream Trailer
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Classic American Dream Trailer

There are plenty of camping trailers that haul boats and other outdoor gear into the wild. We've covered options like the SylvanSport GO-Easy and BCT MOAB Yak within the past year. Portland-based American Dream Trailer Company has a new – er, revisited – idea for how to best transport a boat on your camper. In place of the typical gear racks, its trailer uses a matching boat that secures to the trailer roof like a fitted hat.

A camper with integrated rooftop boat may sound unusual, but it's not a new idea. Back in the 50s, the Kom-Pak Sportsman, manufactured in Medford, Oregon, roamed highways and forest roads as a towable fiberglass camper with boat roof. According to information published by Mecum Auctions in 2010, it's believed that only about 16 Sportsman trailers were ever built, with maybe half a dozen surviving to modern day. The trailers were designed to match Ford station wagons of the day, and anyone that likes vintage vehicles should find them quite the photogenic duo.

Not long after the Kom-Pak Sportsman, in the early 60s, San Rafael, California-based Trailorboat Engineering Company, a boat builder, began offering a fiberglass camper with rooftop boat of its own. Similar to the Sportsman, minus the Ford-matching design, the Trailorboat camper was a teardrop-inspired trailer with a roof boat. It was only built for a few years, and only a few hundred are believed to have been sold.

From the few photos we've seen of the Sportsman and replicas with the boat detached, that trailer relied solely on the boat for a roof. The Trailorboat camper, on the other hand, had a separate roof below the boat.

About five years ago, Paul Dahlman and his wife purchased an original 1961 Trailorboat and fell in love with it. They decided that they wanted to share the classic design and camping/boating experience with the world. Using their original model, they designed an authentic replica and developed partnerships for the chassis and fiberglass construction, putting the model into production.

The Classic American Dream Trailer has a fiberglass camper body built atop a 4 x 8-ft (1.2 x 2.4-m) steel-tube chassis designed to carry up to 2,000 lb (907 kg). After the chassis is fabricated, American Dream takes it to M&W Fiberglass and Composite for the construction of the fiberglass cabin and boat. From there, the wheeled fiberglass shell travels to the Dahlman's neighbor's garage, where they build it up to customer specification.

The boat removes via five latches and a separate roof makes the camper unit a self-contained shelter
The boat removes via five latches and a separate roof makes the camper unit a self-contained shelter

The rooftop boat removes via five latches. The trailer includes the separate roof below the boat so there's no worry about exposure when the boat is in use. The boat is built to carry up to three people/500 lb (227 kg). It has a motor mount and can handle a motor of 2 hp.

American Dream offers the base 650-lb (295-kg) camper at a price of US$8,900 with the boat, two-person mattress, shelving, oars, oarlocks, curtains and a checkerboard floor. The trailer includes a tailgate for gear storage and food preparation. The boat makes the camper look a little bigger than it is; it is a small, lightweight teardrop-style design, so the interior is quite compact and simple. Options include an interior table and single- and two-tone color schemes. Deliveries currently take six to eight weeks.

Inside the Classic American Dream camper
Inside the Classic American Dream camper

In addition to selling trailers, American Dream is trying to ramp up its rental business. It has already rented out its own trailer and recently turned to Kickstarter to try to raise funding to add five new trailers to its rental fleet. Barring some type of miracle or highly motivated, big-pocketed Kickstarter member, that campaign will be unsuccessful. As of publication, it raised less than $2,000 of its $50K goal and had only 40 hours left. Dahlman told us that the company figured the campaign was a long shot and will continue renting out its one trailer, with plans of adding a second and possibly more in the future.

If you like the idea of a trailer-boat, we also suggest you take a peek at the German-built Sealander amphibious camper, which is now available.

Source: American Dream Trailer

5 comments
Tom Lee Mullins
I think that is really neat. Retro seems to be the in thing.
minivini
It's a shame seeing a neat camper that is actually affordable having trouble with funding. I've seen some ultra cool small campers profiled on here, but the vast majority are priced completely outside reality and reach for those looking for a small camper. I hope these guys do well and can launch their company successfully.
Tom Lee Mullins
I think that is really cool. It would be neat to see it made.
Buellrider
Nice looking but unless it's cool at night I bet you would suffer in this camper. I would think that a person that wants a pull camper would rather have something with enough amenities to justify spending 9,000 dollars. Cool factor only gets you so far and one camp-out with this small trailer would probably make you think you'd lost your marbles spending that much on a claustrophobic sauna. There is a good reason they can't raise enough money and that is because it is just not something that 99.9% of the public would find appealing. You'd be more comfortable in a nice tent.
CharlieSeattle
Ha! This picture reminds me of a true story! About 1996, while hauling two 12 foot prams in a small trailer and camping gear for three north on I-96 just south of the Mackinaw Bridge, we were being passed by a large sedan at 75 mph. Just ahead of us now, on the left with no place to go, he suddenly hit the brakes and looked at us with the most wide eyed "OH SHYT!" look I have ever seen. Bounding down freeway in his lane, broadside, was a 14 foot fiberglass boat. The boat flipped over and cupped down on the road just as he hit it right next to us at 65 mph. It sounded like 6 shotgun blasts all at once as the Sedan hit it. It exploded into a million pieces but the Sedan went straight through it unharmed and he dropped back out of sight to pull off to check his underwear I guess. A couple miles ahead and just off the freeway was a large camper with loose ropes hanging everywhere off the top. The driver was out, with a nasty scowl, looking back down the freeway for his boat. But still attached to top of the camper was a one foot long piece of the boats severed bow. Vibration from the 60+ mph headwind and a bad tie down job allowed it to break and flip off. I wish I could go back in time and watch it again.