I received a nice comment from Verna Simmons on the blog indicating that she also owned a La Cabana. I’ve never seen or heard of another one, this Westerner from the 2014 Trailerfest coming the closest. So I wrote back and she was nice enough to supply some pictures and her story. I was amazed that her’s is titled as a 1948! That means the La Cabana Trailer Company was around longer than I thought, ours being a 1954.
“Previously we had a 36 foot motorhome. We wanted to combine our love for street rod events and camping/traveling, so we started looking for a vintage trailer. We found the trailer on EBay. Bought from a family in Yuma. We’ve added a lot to it and plan to paint both the ’37 Chevy and trailer red and a cream color. Hope to travel the Western states next summer.”
“It is titled as a 1948 La Cabana and is 14 foot long. We have not seen another with that extra door either. When it is closed you can’t even tell it is there. The toilet is hidden under the counter next to the sink. To get to it, you raise the counter, open a door and viola….there is a toilet. We did add a hook to hold the counter top up instead of using our head which was a bit uncomfortable. It has the original refrigerator door, but when you open the door there is a newer refrigerator inside. We also put an air conditioner in a cabinet above the refrigerator that you can’t see unless the door is open (that latches to the ceiling). On the outside you can’t tell there is an air conditioner because there is the vent. We had a generator placed on the front tongue and are having it enclosed with an aluminum covering.”
I met Kent Greg at the 2015 Trailerfest Vintage Camper Trailer Rally near Lodi. During the Open House on Saturday they invited antique car owners (and other vehicles, obviously!) to come put their babies on display. Kent brought his 1955 Aristocraft outboard complete with original Mercury Thunderbolt four cylinder engine and original trailer to the show, and I fell completely in love with the “jet age” period design. The slick, swooping lines of the gunnels, the “jet intake” bow grill on the front, and the absolutely beautiful job that Kent did restoring it. After talking awhile, he agreed to an interview which I transcribe for you below:
I love the way the side of the boat swoops around and twists upward toward the rear.
Here you can see the Aristo Craft brand name and the original boat license still in place from its first foray into the world in 1956.
Not really an air intake, but very cool styling with this “Jet Age” grill on the bow.
Absolutely beautifully restored original outboard Mercury engine. I love the chrome and red combo.
John: Where’d you find the boat?
Kent: I found it in San Diego, California. It was not in that shape, of course. It was originally shipped in July of 1955 to Burbank, California where it was sold with that trailer and that motor. All as a package deal from a dealership in Burbank. It sat in Vista, California for more than 40 years in a shed, from about 1971 until 2011.
John: And so how did you buy it?
Kent: I purchased it on eBay.
Kent: Yeah. So a guy had traded some work for it. Some people owed him some money for some landscaping he did, a waterfall and fountain and everything that he did and he said he would take the boat, motor and trailer like that as an exchange for the work that he did. Because they owed him the money. So he took that and posted it on eBay about two months later. He only had it two months. I purchased it on eBay from him from San Diego.
John: Do you mind me asking how much you paid for it?
John: Great. It’s beautiful. How long did it take you to restore it?
Kent: Three years.
John: Wow. You were saying about the architecture of the boat, the design of the boat, from what you know?
Kent: OK, the original owner, after he got out of the military in World War Two, he started building boats, and his concept was the Jet Age, the beginning of the Jet Era. OK. So, he put the hood scoop on the tops of the boats, this is called a Torpedo, this particular model. He has another model called a Typhoon which is a twelve footer. And that was his styling, kind of the barrel-back styling with the hood scoop in the front, a non-functional hood scoop grill which is depicting kind of like an intake, a jet intake. So that was his styling.
John: So cool. You met his son, I think you said?
Kent: I talked to his son, and his son still reproduces this boat, but not in this era, it’s more like later fifties. This is a 1955.
John: What’s the full name of it again?
Kent: Aristo Craft Torpedo
John: Have you had it out on the water?
Kent: Never! I have not.
John: [laughing] Do you think you ever would?
Kent: I don’t think so because I own two other boats that are very capable of having fun and going into the water and doing what I want to do, because that’s what I do. It is seaworthy. It will go in the water, but I just don’t want to because of all the bare, fully polished aluminum and everything, I just don’t want to deal with it, I don’t want to have to clean it and all that, it just goes into the garage with the car. It’s just a display item and just sits on the trailer.
John: Well it’s a beautiful piece. Congratulations. Thank you.
Kent: Thank you.
This will be the first and only time we get our little La Cabana out of storage this year. I’ve been getting subtly worried about her in the back of my mind all year. In December, 2013, we bought and zipped her up tight in a Classic Accessories PolyPro 3 R-Pod 150 Teardrop Trailer Cover, Gray/White. We bought it from Walmart at a great price, about $120. I found that old link and Walmart says they don’t sell them anymore. So the link above is Amazon, and that unit may be a 170 instead of 150. But I’m sure you can also find them on other websites. Ours fit perfectly for our little camper with an overall length to the tongue of about 11-12 ft. The 170 says it fits up to 15 feet. It was easy to put on, including clever little sacks you put some rocks in, to through the straps under the chassis. Seemed nice and tight and waterproof when we were done, but I haven’t checked on her since then, as I said. 😦 So looking forward to going up there and seeing how she survived the rainy winter and now hot summer. Will report back as further preperations get near.
You can see the little triangular pieces that constitute the tie downs and distribute the load, which I thought worked well, and you can see that the R-pod teardrop shape fit our vintage trailer shape quite well!