The 1980s were a wild time for U-Haul. Customers could rent everything from movies and ATVs to paint sprayers from the rental giant. But one of the coolest rentals from U-Haul’s past is this, the U-Haul CT13 Get-A-Way Camper.
Fiberglass travel trailers were everywhere in the 1970s and 1980s. Countless manufacturers tried their hands at making a molded fiberglass RV. U-Haul didn’t want to miss out on the action and created its own pair of campers, the VT16 Vacation Traveler and CT13 Get-A-Way Camper.
These trailers are rare, which makes this 1985 U-Haul CT13 on Craigslist pretty special. How rare? Exact production numbers aren’t known, but owners believe that there are fewer than 2,000 of them in the world.
Details on the CT13 and VT16 are scant, with the majority of what’s known gathered by enthusiastic owners of the things. I covered some of the history of the campers when I wrote about all of the weird things you could rent from U-Haul in the 1980s:
According to information gathered by U-Haul camper owners, these trailers were developed by a U-Haul subsidiary called Rec-Vee World. The units were produced for only a short time from 1984 to 1985. Per VIN plates and owners, the trailers were made by the Dayton Trailer Manufacturing Company in Ohio, Youngstown Trailer Manufacturing in Ohio, and by U-Haul in Arizona. The CT13 and VT16 were 13 feet long and 16 feet long and both units had the standard fare of RV equipment like fridges, sinks, and furnaces. However, if you wanted a bathroom you had to step up to the VT16 and its bathroom didn’t have a shower.
Like the company’s other trailers, these campers were built to be sturdy to withstand the abuses of rental use. The bones of the CT13 were a circular steel frame or a square tube steel frame. The design was meant to be easy to tow and the U-Haul CT13 weighs in at about 1,200 pounds, towable by just about any car.
U-Haul rented these campers from 1984 to 1992. Thankfully, the trailers were sold off to the public instead of being destroyed; making them one of the few types of retired U-Haul equipment that you’re allowed to own. The 1990s weren’t a kind time for fiberglass camper manufacturers and most closed down, leaving behind only the more popular manufacturers like Boler (now Scamp) and Casita.
This U-Haul CT13 has a delightful mix of original parts and a few upgrades. The exterior still has the original U-Haul graphics and its circular tube frame looks intact.
Inside, the olive colored interior remains intact and much of the U-Haul-branded bits and pieces remain.
But it’s not entirely vintage as a modern refrigerator and sink make up the upgrades in the kitchen. The olive-colored cabinet doors appear to be painted in silver to match the kitchen appliances. And yep, that stove is powered by propane! It’s unknown if the camper’s furnace is present.
The combination dining room and bed has what appears to be some more modern cushions, as does the couch on the other end of the camper.
The camper’s total length is 13 feet while the interior is 10 feet-long. The CT13 was designed to sleep up to three with the dining table bed in back and the couch that turns into a bunk bed up front.
Many of these U-Haul campers were gutted or completely repainted, so it’s always awesome to see one in close to original condition. U-Haul trailers exploded in value in recent years. Back in 2018 I saw them in original good condition for as low as $3,000, but those days appear to be gone.
This CT13 comes in at $13,500 on Craigslist in Tustin, California.
Update for 2022: I reached out to U-Haul for more history on these campers. In doing so, I was able to find one of the last people that was still working for U-Haul that was involved in building these campers. They told me that the U-Haul camper’s design is part derivative and part original. And what U-Haul camper owners have been able to gather has been pretty accurate.
The company designed its campers by first buying up popular fiberglass models of the time like a Scamp and a Burro. Engineers then took the best elements of those campers then smashed them and their own ideas together as one camper. That’s why the U-Haul CT13 looks like a Burro.
Unfortunately, U-Haul tells me that much of the company’s records about the campers, including production numbers, have been lost. The best guess comes from the CEO, who says that there were fewer than 2,000 made.
Hat tip to Tyler Herden!