From the moment I found this little Shasta Compact, I knew she had to be part of our Van Go journey. It was the 'wings' that caught my attention, as it is a feature of these trailers not seen on any other. As you will find out below, they are highly sought after by collectors and enthusiasts and we can see why!

The History of the Shasta Travel Trailer
The Shasta is a vintage American icon. Of all the “toaster on wheels” style caravans (or “trailers” as they’re known in the USA) produced between the 1940’s and 1960’s, the classic Shasta is one of the best known. Instantly recognisable, the Shasta celebrates the ultimate American Dream to inspire wanderlust and the freedom to explore with families and friends.

Californian Robert Gray built his first “house trailers” in 1941, to be used as mobile military housing for the US Armed Forces. Many of the GI’s became very fond of their mobile homes, and after World War II ended, saw them as an inexpensive way for them and their families to travel around the country. It was then that Robert Gray began focusing on retail sales of his trailers, and the ‘Cozy Cruiser’ was born, manufactured in Los Angeles.

It wasn’t until 1952 that he changed the company name to Shasta, and moved production to another Californian city, Van Nuys. People fell in love with the trailers, and soon Mr Gray opened another factory in Goshen, Indiana. In fact, over time, Shasta became the highest selling recreational vehicle in the USA, with 7 factories producing hundreds of thousands of these high quality, low-priced vans all over the country.

1958 was also the year that the iconic wings were added to the rear of the trailer, symbolising flight and freedom. People either loved or hated the wings, and the latter often removed them from the trailer, much to the disappointment of those later wishing to restore their vintage vans back to their former glory. The original wings are almost impossible to find nowadays.

Other trademark features are the Shasta’s warm, natural wood interior panelling and cabinets, made from Birch or Ash. The kitchen counter and dining table were covered in colour-coordinated Formica laminate, reminiscent of home kitchens, which very much appealed to homemakers at the time.

From the 1960’s onwards, caravans became bigger and better, and by the end of 1966, the “toaster on wheels” Shasta shape was replaced by a squared off design, resembling the modern trailers of today.

Due to rising inflation and fuel prices, the 1970’s were tough for the RV industry and Shasta was forced to sell its holdings to the Coachmen Company in 1976. Coachmen continued to manufacture Shasta vans until 2004, when they were bought by Forest River. There were no Shasta’s produced for the next 5 years, but in 2009, Forest River introduced a limited edition retro version of the Shasta Air Flyte model. It was so well received, that they brought the brand back into full production.

Today, Shasta trailers are more popular than ever with enthusiasts all over the USA and are being manufactured to the same standard that has made the brand so sought after since 1941. Robert Gray would be proud.

If you want to read more about these trailers with the wings, feel free to click on the links below -

You can also follow the journeys of a couple of our favourite Shastas on Instagram @thetrailerpond and @flyinghamrentals