Growing up, the Wilson family had a vacation tradition. Twice a year, the crew would pile in their Impala sedan, hook up the Shasta trailer and motor to the Great Smokey Mountains, in Tennessee. “My dad was an auto technician and for his annual time off, he’d take me and my two brothers on a week-long vacation into the outdoors,’ recalls Chris, who grew up in Kentucky. “When my sister came along in 1972, dad sold the Shasta to get an even bigger camper.”
All those happy memories stayed with Chris, who had been searching for that family trailer since the early 2000s.
A Nomad Comes Home
After a fruitless search for the original, he purchased this 1963 example in 2013. He found it in Muskegon, Michigan. While they began a full restoration on the retro piece, another perfect piece from the past ‘fell into their lap.’ “I came across a 1955 Chevy Nomad, purchased it and parked it next to the trailer,’ recalls Chris. “I knew we had to make a matching pair.”
The wagon was purchased from a seller in Cocoa Beach, Florida. “Her husband was one of the captions on a Staten Island Ferry. After leaving New York City and moving to Florida, they got the Nomad in 2010. Sadly, he passed away not long after and she was ready to part with it.”
The car had underwent a restoration and, after a few tweaks, including adding the addition of surfboards and a bigger radiator, was ready for the road.
Pieces From the Past
After the trailer’s overhaul, which included painting it in the same turquoise, the setup was complete. Tying them together, besides the hip colors, is a special part of the Wilson family’s past. “The trailer hitch is the same one my dad and uncle built and used in the 1960s,’ explains Chris. “He made it out of Chrysler torsion bars. Of the entire display, that’s the most prized possession.” While the trailers came and went, the hitch somehow stayed behind the family’s home, waiting for an opportunity like this.
‘That’s not to say there aren’t many other sentimental additions. Chris has worked hard to incorporate loads of memorabilia from the 1950s and his growing up. Aluminum cups and a pitcher once belonged to an aunt who Chris and his siblings visited during the summer months in Kingston, Tennessee.
Inside, a quilt dates to 1955, being made by his grandmother for his parents as a wedding gift. A teddy bear was also dates to that time, being made by his mother. “I’m a sentimental kind of guy,’ laughs Chris. “Although, it’s clear me and my wife were born in the wrong decades. We love the 1950s.”
On The Road Again
They might have missed the era, but they get plenty of chances to relive it. The cruising couple is always on the road in their striking setup. “We’ll travel anywhere within eight hours of us. We love being on the road,’ laughs Chris. “For those who don’t know, when you get a camper, you have to be prepared to talk a lot. Everyone loves coming up and sharing memories. Hook up a car to an old camper and it’ll change your life.”