Land Cruisers – Putting Chris-Craft On The Highways As Well As The Waterways In 1954
Last weekend we had an opportunity to see many beautiful antique & classic boats at the 36th Annual ACBS International Meeting and Show on Geneva Lake, Wisconsin. A truly fantastic event at the Abbey Resort hosted by the Blackhawk ACBS & Glacier Lakes ACBS Chapters.
On Friday afternoon we got together with Fellow Woody Boaters and restoration experts Mike Teusink & Kirk Wingard from The Wooden Runabout Company in Holland, Michigan and went for a cool boat ride with Jeff Knudsen in “Tin Can”. The conversation about old boats and the hobby was non-stop the entire time and we had a great visit out on Geneva Lake.
After we returned to Abbey Harbor, Kirk Wingard said “Hey Texx, why don’t you come over and see our trailer that we brought to the show?” I wasn’t sure why they wanted to show me their trailer, but we were having such a great time I said “Ahhh Ssssuuuure… let’s go.” We walked over to the parking lot that was set up for the event’s land exhibits, and there it was – A perfectly restored 1954 Chris-Craft Land Cruiser Kit Trailer.
I was aware that Chris-Craft made these kit trailers in the mid 1950’s and have seen photos of them on eBay, but to see an original one in person was exciting. And the best part was the fact that Mike & Kirk restored the little trailer with the same respect and attention to detail that they give to their wooden boat restoration projects.
Here’s what the Land Cruiser looked like when they originally discovered it in Northern Minnesota recently.
In the October 1953 Rudder magazine an article with the headline House Trailer Kit started out by saying – In a move designed to put Chris-Craft on the highways as well as the waterways, Wayne Pickell, General Sales Manager, today unveiled a new house trailer in kit form for home assembly.
“By applying the same principals of mass buying and volume prefabrication that have brought boating within reach of new thousands through the economy of prefabricated Chris-Craft Boat Kits, we are now able to offer, for the first time, a full-fledged mobile home that will provide year ’round housing or vacation fun at a price far below that of factory completed trailers,” Pickell stated.
We asked Mike Teusink from The Wooden Runabout Company to send us the following information on this rare and unique piece of Chris-Craft history…
Mike said – As of right now, we know the trailer was available in 1954 only. The press releases date from the fall of 1953 and we have one ad showing the closeout pricing in Life magazine in July of 1954. We have not been able to find any documentation on how many were produced. I know of three in existence right now, although there are certainly more hiding out there.
I believe all of the components that were included with the kit are still original on our trailer with the exception of the plywood floor which we replaced due to some softness at the front and rear (bow and stern??) of the trailer. The aluminum skin, trailer frame, tongue jack, birch interior, windows, screens, and door, all match the items shown in the exploded view and the factory photos of assembled trailers.
We took inspiration for the interior furniture from 1954 Chris-Craft cruisers.
An interesting note is that the price list that I attached includes pricing for various interior furnishing components, but we have not seen any trailers (I have only seen two in person) that have evidence of any kit interior components. From the press releases and advertising literature that I have found, it appears that the interior components may not have been ready when the kit was launched. The trailer dealer press release states, “Chris-Craft will therefore market the first of their new kit trailers with…several suggested interior layouts but leave the actual selection of interior furnishings to the individual owners”. – Mike Teusink
This trailer still has all the mint-original light fixtures which are very cool… When they were restoring the trailer, Kirk was surprised to find the original door lock key that someone hid under the trailer, attached to the frame. Check out the photo of the Barrelback in the corner… Nice touch.
They made some curtains from a pattern material that they had silk screened using the Chris-Craft period logo. I think every Woody Boater should have some of these curtains in their home or RV, or even a period Chris-Craft shower curtain… Forward and aft seat cushions were made with a U-22 theme. All the original wood panels on the interior were freshly varnished and looked (and smelled) awesome.
Here’s the original factory close out price list from 1954 which shows a base price of just under 400.00 and all those expensive options which were offered at the time. (You can click on the spec sheet above to enlarge it)
So there you have it, thanks to the guys from The Wooden Runabout Company… Oh and by the way, they restore wooden boats too! You can go to their website by clicking here or see their contact information below.
The Wooden Runabout Co. LLC
4261 Blue Star Highway
Holland, MI 49423
Thanks guys for sharing your trailer with us here at Woody Boater, and the next time someone says “Come over and see our trailer” I certainly won’t hesitate…
I love it! What a cool story. I love the shine on the polished aluminium. We would call that a ‘ caravan ‘ over here. There have been a few of the really iconic aluminium streamliner trailers imported from the USA I’ve seen here recently but I never knew Chris Craft made them too. Isn’t it wonderful how the plans make the thing seem so much bigger. I bet a lot of Dads bought it and built it only to have their wives say, ” gee its kinda pokey. ”
I will invite you over to see my trailer soon. It’s going under the Resorter and I’m painting it gloss milk chocolate brown with cream pinstripe sitting on moonie chrome wheels and whitewalls. It won’t float and you can’t live in it but it will be cool.
Neat story thanks Texx
Neat story thanks Texx.
Oops ….stereo sign off.
That trailer is awesome.
Most men would peek their head in, while women would just walk right in and sit down. My advice for all you single guys… park one of these in your driveway.
It also made for a convenient cocktail lounge at the show.
Love these old vintage trailers! Didn’t know about Chris Craft having one, what a fabulous job, it is beautiful.
In May, our little village had its first Founder’s Day picnic and they invited the Tin Can Tourists to attend, they had about a dozen vintage trailers staying at the little park just around the corner from us.
We made ourselves a cocktail and saunder down to meet them, what a fun group they were.
The oldest trailer there was from the 1940’s made by an air craft company with the interior in the midst of restoration but it still had all the original interior including the stove, light fixtures, etc. Another was like a log cabin complete with a little wooden canoe on top…too cute!
We found them to be as passoniate about their vintage trailers as we are about our boats…and they run the same gamut from the purists to the do-it-yourselfers…to the “I’m just here for the party”, folks…
betcha can’t guess which group we fell in with!
Very cool vintage trailer. They did a great restoration. The brochure is available on -line in the Library at http://www.fiberglassics.com
Not to be a one upmanship guy, BUT, Thompson Bros. Boat Mfg. Co. made camper trailers 20 years earlier than Chris-Craft! I know for sure thay made at least one. Have never found one or heard of one that still exists.
Article about ’em in the Boathouse magazine, http://www.acbs-bslol.com
There were some great land displays at the show, and this was certainly among the very best. It was extremely well done and very interesting. I wonder why it failed to take off when the were marketing them new? I have always very much liked the aluminum trailers of this period, and still hope to find a Spartan Imperial Mansion or something similar. This looked especially nice with Chad’s perfect Feathcraft right beside it!
Very cool. A beautifully executed restoration. Congratulations, and thanks for bringing it (her?) to Geneva.
Anyone know if they made a larger, Sportsman version, with a drop sheer? If so, I want one!
The 14′ version is the only one they offered. According to “The Legend of Chris-Craft”, a separate Division (short lived) was formed to promote these Land Cruisers. The book also states that Chris-Craft sold kits for building knotty pine gun cases and treasure chests. Interesting…
Al – I noticed the Land Cruiser Division reference on the bottom of the spec sheet (above).
It appears that back in the day when Chris-Craft determined that a particular product was not going to be a big hit, management was quick to bring it to an end, like the Lake & Sea Division. Bought the company and sold it in the same year.
Texx, Chris-Craft front office kept in constant contact with their dealers and distributors. When a product or model wasn’t selling well, it was quickly changed or terminated. The Lake N Sea and the Land Cruiser were 2 that didn’t make it a full year.
The curtins are just fab. Love buffed aluminum!
Noticed the Water Wonderland 1955 license plate. Nice touch!
Mike and Kirk gave me the grand tour of their mobile estate – sweet ride!
I’m a guy and did not just peek my head in. I even checked out the “closet” over the wheel well. No one mentioned the intoxicating aroma of varnished wood inside. Oh, baby!
Thanks to all for the positive feedback. The “fresh” aroma of varnish was probably due to the fact that we were still putting some finishing touches on the interior Thursday morning prior to heading for Lake Geneva.
I thought you said that was the ‘head’?
The perfect guest cabin at the cabin.
In tis time, it was the cabin at the lake.
The Rocky Mountain chapter actually has one of these. It belongs to one of their members and former president of the chapter. I have been fortunate enough to actually set this thing up for shows and I gotta tell you, its always a huge hit. Everybody just loves it P.
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before. So nice to discover another person with original thoughts on this issue.
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My name is Tim Nickerson. I have a pristine, as new, 1954 Chris Craft Land Cruiser that is in brand new condition. This is the nicest Land Cruiser of any surviving trailers. Actually, it should be in a museum. I am reluctantly considering letting it go. I have not determined a price for it as of yet, but I will listen to all realistic and reasonable offers. I may even consider trading for something of interest to me. I was hoping you would pass the word along to the Chris Craft people you know. I would prefer letting it go to a serious collector. No tire kickers please as this is not a run of the mill nickel ad type trailer. If any one is interested please contact Tim Nickerson @ firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
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The Highways As Well As The Waterways In 1954 | Classic Boat News / Woody Boater
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