Travel in style with Retro Trailer Design
July 19, 2013
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — When local couple Richard and Vicky Nash pull into campgrounds and car shows, crowds tend to swarm around them, admiring their mode of transportation.
The Nashes sit in Sundance, a 1961 Ford Galaxie Sunliner convertible, towing behind them Candy, a 1962 Shasta Airflyte trailer. Both have been completely renovated and restored by the Nashes with matching candy apple red color schemes.
"People just flock around us," said Vicky, 48. "They're smiling and telling us their stories about their childhoods or their own trailers."
“People just flock around us,” said Vicky, 48. “They’re smiling and telling us their stories about their childhoods or their own trailers.”
It was this reaction that prompted the Nashes to turn their driveway hobby into an official business, launching Retro Trailer Design in November 2012 with the purchase of a workshop in downtown Glenwood Springs.
"We had so much fun taking the ones we'd finished and seeing the joy it brought people," said Richard, 56. "It was very rewarding, and there seemed to be a demand, so we thought we'd give it a shot."
Vicky said the business has been receiving calls from around the country with people wanting to sell or donate their old trailers, as well as people looking for their own custom rigs. Currently, the workshop houses five trailers in various states of disrepair.
The concept behind Retro Trailer Designs was hatched more than a decade ago, when Vicky read a 2002 magazine article about Sisters on the Fly, a women's organization offering outdoor adventures in their signature decorated antique trailers.
Vicky loved the vintage trailers, decorated with murals, but pushed the thought aside until she married Richard in 2003. Two years later, they purchased their first trailer, a 1970 Shasta, which they fixed up in their driveway. After that, Vicky said, they were hooked.
Richard, who has worked as a general contractor and custom homebuilder for 35 years, is also a longtime car buff. He bought his first car at 13 — a 1957 Ford Thunderbird — and has been restoring vehicles ever since, owning dozens of different cars and trucks throughout his life.
"My father worked for Ford Motor Company and my uncle was a builder, so as a kid I learned to do all the trades," Richard explained. "To me, it's an art form. I get to do the woodworking, the plumbing, the wiring, the structuring. When it's done, it's really rolling art."
Diving right in
After selling that first Shasta, the Nashes purchased another and began a full-fledged restoration project. While the first trailer had been in relatively good condition, the soon-to-be Candy was a mess.
In fact, the 16-foot trailer, which the Nashes purchased for $100, was only three days away from being towed to the junkyard. Richard stripped the Shasta to its frame, using the original siding and rooftop as templates for new aluminum pieces.
He refurbished the interior walls, ceiling and cabinets with ash wood, cleaning and repairing original appliances and making a few modernizing swaps, such as a refrigerator for the icebox.
"You don't know what you'll encounter when you start tearing it apart," Richard said. "These things really weren't meant to last 50 years, so there are some pretty frightening things when you get behind the walls."
Vicky, the creative director, decided on a red, silver and white color scheme, filling the trailer with vintage linens and luggage, as well as old-time Coca-Cola coolers and glass bottles. She sewed all the cushions and curtains herself, using a sewing machine also from the 1960s.
Nine months and $10,000 later, Candy was ready to hit the road, but she needed a companion. Richard, never one to say no to a new vehicle, began the search. When he discovered the '61 Sunliner behind a barn, he knew it was the perfect fit, but it wasn't in the best condition.
"I brought it home and Vicky said, 'Oh, it's worse than I imagined,'" Richard said with a laugh. "It had been taken apart in the 1980s for restoration, but [the owner] lost interest, and it sat in pieces all these years.
"The bumpers were inside the car, wrapped in 1984 Denver newspapers because he'd had them freshly chromed before he lost interest. The whole interior was gone."
Luckily, Richard said, he found a donor car in Grand Junction from which he was able to salvage parts. At that point working solely out of their driveway and garage, Richard said Vicky was less than enthused when he brought home a second 17-foot-long dilapidated vehicle.
The convertible's restoration included an engine and transmission overhaul, new brakes and shocks, black-and-white upholstery and fresh chrome, as well as a new soft top, paint job and hitch with electronic brake control.
Ever since, Candy and Sundance have served as the showpieces for Retro Trailer Design, claiming the Ladies' Choice and People's Choice awards at the Grand River Classic Car Show in Glenwood Springs.
Currently, Richard is working on restoring another 16-foot Shasta from the 1960s, which he drove 850 miles to pick up from southern Arizona. He has already completed the wiring and plumbing and is working on refinishing the wood interior.
En route is a willow green '57 Ford Thunderbird, which will serve as the new Shasta's towing companion. The Nashes will decorate the trailer with a green and cream color scheme to match.
Four other trailers sit at the Nashes' shop awaiting renovation: another '61 Shasta, a '56 Rainbow, a '58 Santa Fe and a Winnebago, year unknown.
Richard said the ideal situation would be to sell each of the trailers prior to beginning restoration so the client can choose the color scheme and which modern features to add. Full-blown renovations take roughly four to five months and can cost anywhere from $25,000 to $40,000.
"It really depends on what a person wants, like air conditioning or modern conveniences," Vicky explained. "People can customize a trailer anyway they want to."