1972 Chevrolet Caprice With A Harmon Shadow Camper!

I’ve finally found something I believe to be new to Barn Finds – a Harmon Shadow Camper. My understanding is not many were built, and few survived, as there were major concerns about damage to the vehicle being used to tow. However, this one along with its 1972 Chevrolet Caprice tow rig has survived and looks to be in decent shape. It can be found here on Facebook Marketplace in Elkland, Missouri. The seller is asking $10,000 for the whole setup.

Your eyes are not deceiving you – this is exactly what it looks like. That’s a fifth-wheel camper being towed by a 1972 Chevrolet Caprice with a roof-mounted hitch. On the surface it seems like this would make for simple towing, but I don’t know if the concept translates to utility. It also seems incredibly risky with potential catastrophic outcomes if anything goes awry.

Harmon Industries built these campers in their Warrensburg, Missouri factory in the early-1970s. They said they, “take advantage of the roll-resistance built into modern roofs to firmly anchor the trailer hitch” and they feature “great maneuverability and easy tow handling.” This video appears to support those claims, but at least one Harmon Industries employee saw them a bit differently, saying: “If I recall correctly the roof mounted system caused damage to the rear end of a vehicle so they didn’t last long.” They did last long enough for one to be featured on Let’s Make a Deal.

The camper looks like it has many amenities you’d need for on-the-road living. There’s a dinette that would presumably convert to sleeping space, a full kitchen, and what appears to be two twin beds. If a bathroom is present, what more could you need?

I don’t want to gloss over the fact that there’s a 1972 Chevrolet Caprice included in this deal. The seller says it’s equipped with a 454 that runs but offers no other detail, other than sharing photos of the front and back seats.

I can’t even imagine ever taking this combo on the open road, but if you have $10k to spend and a gaping hole in your classic car/camper collection, I think you’d be hard pressed to find a better way to fill it.

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    Well, shiver me timbers. I’ve actually seen the Beetle setup before, I doubt you’ll do 360 with the Impala, but the roof is the strongest part of a car. I’d have to think the road shock from the trailer would go right to the cabin and, I’d like to see how that coupling is mounted. If it’s just by the drip rails, like those old roof racks the old man had for canoes, no thanks. I’ve spent a lot of time on the road, and I’ve seen just about every conceivable contraption, but never this. Looks like a swing and a miss to me. The trailer appears to be useless in any other pulling setup. I like the Chevy,,,,

    Like 33
    • Mountainwoodie

      Well I hated everything about the seventies especially avocado colored anything! I’d poke my eyes out to be inside that thing for more than a minute.

      That said, this is full on crackpot engineering. I can’t even grasp the thought process that produced it.

      “Hey Mac….why use a ball and hitch attached to the frame of a tow vehicle…lets put it on the roof…we could get some extra room in the trailer overhang!”

      “Great idea, you want another beer?”

      Like 6
      • K. R. V.

        Then I suggest you google Earth Roamer. Then be prepared to eat crow! They build a world renown truck based campers, customized for each very well off customer.

        Like 1
    • jo, H

      Exactly what it looks like, a canoe carrier mount!! That roof fixture is only clamped to the rain channels!! Not safe for the road!

      Like 1
  2. Rex Kahrs Member

    I can’t imagine how the roof is stronger than the frame of this full-sized Chevy.

    It’s mystifying how someone along the design process didn’t interject with…
    “Larry, this is a totally goofy idea”, or “Bill, I think Larry has gone completely off his rocker”.

    Like 44
    • Howard A Member

      And the best part, as silly as it may be, let’s try and sell it anyway,,,America!!!

      Like 19
  3. alphasud Member

    The heck with the 5th wheel set-up. I’m digging the rotary dial phone on the wall!

    Like 36
  4. angliagt angliagt Member

    And notice the 8 track player,
    & the CB radio.

    Like 16
  5. IkeyHeyman Member

    The design of this looks like something a couple guys in a bar after work would have thought up and sketched out on a cocktail napkin.

    Like 25
    • Geebee

      After having a few too many….

      Like 7
  6. Jcs

    If you missed the Lets Make a Deal spot, take a look. Hilarious!

    Like 14
    • Mitchell Gildea Member

      When a Zonk! can be driven

      Like 6
      • Steffsgpa

        Have you noticed that one of the current Zonk cars is a Lotus 7? They have a 54 Buick too I think. Portholes and all.

        Like 1
    • S

      That looks like a 1969 Impala going off road up a hill and pulling that thing WAY too fast! It’s bouncing all over! How can that possibly be safe?!?

      Like 1
  7. Kenneth Carney

    I’m with Howard. I like the Caprice better. As for the camper, I”d tow that
    behind my Ram 1500 where it should be
    in the first place. Would love to have the
    Caprice though. It sure would be much
    cheaper to fix than my Charger. Just paid $850 to have a new alternator put
    in and the damned thing’s still not working right.

    Like 4
  8. Stangalang

    With a 454 under the hood I’m sure it will haul the camper..buuuut this looks like trouble

    Like 11
  9. Boatman Member

    Listing not available- already!

    Like 4
    • Josh Josh Staff

      I’m guessing a fellow BF Supporting Member spotted it as soon as it went into Early Access and was able to work a deal on it quick!

      Like 2
  10. Racer-x

    Perfect accessory for the traveler who’s got to be the talk of every KOA between California and Maine.

    Like 7
  11. HC

    Good Lord what some people will do! The roof hitch looks like a Ralph Nader lawsuit. But none the less pretty cool combo.

    Like 9
  12. Gunner

    Honey, can you get the spare tire out of the trunk?

    Like 5
  13. r adkins

    Hopefully the gas filler location is not behind the rear license plate.

    Like 7
    • bone

      It is !

      Like 4
  14. Mark

    1972
    “Harold, it’s so hot today and this stop and go city traffic, it’s terrible, I wish you had spent the money and got the A/C.” The kids look worn out already and we’ve only gone a few miles.”
    “Look Lois, when I was a boy we didnt have such luxuries, with the windows down they’ll be fine once we get moving”.
    “Dad, I feel kind of whoozie and it smells back here.”
    “You’ll be fine son. I’m hungry as a bear. Let’s eat. Wake your sister up.”

    Like 6
  15. Mark

    1972
    “Harold, it’s so hot today and this stop and go city traffic, it’s terrible, I wish you had spent the money and got the A/C.” The kids look worn out already and we’ve only gone a few miles.”
    “Look Lois, when I was a boy we didnt have such luxuries, with the windows down they’ll be fine once we get moving”.
    “Dad, I feel kind of whoozie and it smells back here.”
    “You’ll be fine son. I’m hungry as a bear. Let’s eat. Now. wake your sister up.”

  16. Doug

    My dad had an evangelist friend who travelled in one of those in the 1970’s. I remember seeing it when he preached at a church near where we lived. I don’t think I would ever try it!

    Like 3
    • Gus Fring

      Somehow, that doesn’t surprise me a bit.

      Like 1
    • JAY

      Yessir!! I do believe that if I were to have been able to purchase this here rig, I too would be saying lots of prayers!!

      Like 2
  17. ToniM

    I don’t want to actually camp in it, or even tow it anywhere. I’d just want it to go along with my collection of “antiques” because it’s a giant 1970s time capsule–those curtains! The color combos! The phone (how, exactly, did one plug that in on the road?), the CB, the 8-track! I love every bit of it!

    Like 4
  18. Joe Haska

    This scares me and Iam Fearless!

    Like 1
  19. CCFisher

    A car’s roof wasn’t designed for this type of load. A modest static load like luggage, bicycles, a canoe, etc, yes. A dynamic load pulling, pushing, and twisting the roof structure, no. The irony is that this car could tow a large, conventional travel trailer and the driver would barely be aware of it. On the other hand, I’m sure that driver and passengers would feel every movement this trailer makes.

    It’s great as something to look at and carefully drive to local shows (assuming it’s legal), but as an actual camper, hard pass.

    Like 6
  20. Greg Millard Member

    The prob I see is not with the mech reliability if the interconnection has good integrity (tongue wt is prob less than 200 lbs). But rather it is difficult to determine the advantage of this configuration over then available alternatives. Doing 360s in a parking lot does not add to a camping excursion.

    Like 2
    • Bill McCoskey

      Go to youtube and look for the Volkswagen with roof mount trailer. It shows the VW could do things like pull up to a campsite, then the car turns 180 degrees and drives the trailer backwards into the campsite!

      Like 1
  21. Allan

    That would be the quickest way to remove your rood and kill someone behind you.

    Like 1
  22. Pappy

    FB link..The new owner with lots of pictures, brochures, etc.

    https://www.facebook.com/colton.graham.3

    • ken tilly UK

      @Pappy. Looking at the picture of the roof tow hitch it looks very delicately manufactured to my inexperienced eye, however, I’m sure it must have passed all the road safety requirements when it was manufactured so I guess it will still be o.k. I would be crapping myself every inch of the road that I travelled with baited breath though.

      Like 2
  23. Marko

    Holy Deja Vu. I remember seeing a similar year Impala in the mid 1970’s in Calgary, Alberta (Canada), that had a similar hitch setup. That one however had four arms that wrapped around the body in front of the forward doors, and rearward of the passenger doors, that either bolted or was welded to the frame. Car wed a mid toned red, and the hitch and frame was black.
    Not sure what he hauled with it, but it is the only one I have seen

    Like 1
  24. Stephen Miklos

    I have one question… WHY?🤦

    Like 1
    • moosie moosie Member

      Stephen Miklos, Because they can ?

      • Stephen Miklos

        Moosie.. I know.. but still why? How that passed inspection is beyond me..😂

  25. Zane Grewer

    ya, I can see that being driven by a calgarian, I love the green shag carpet I wonder if it lines the roof like an old Holiday Rambler as well.

  26. Ganjoka

    In any case mirror extensions would definitely be in order.

  27. Raymond Smith

    There was a family not too far from where I grew up with a similar set up. The tow car was a Cadillac. I never did see to do anything other than sit though.

  28. John Oliveri

    First off, I love the under cabinet 8 track, that sells it for me, the green interior too, think about this, some hot chick in hot pants and boots was possibly the mom in all this, think early 70s Samantha, or Jeanie, you could still get a hit mama with that set up, till she has to crawl under the camper to put the gas hose behind the license plate of the Chevy, pretty kinky, how old is Aeneas Eden now, 80 what?

    Like 2
    • Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

      Barbara Eden you mean? Alive and kickin’, as her pantyhose advertisements use to say.

  29. John

    Very cool rig, at least they had sense enough to opt for a sedan instead of hardtop.

  30. MC

    It was the 70’s! We rode on the deck of the back window. We played with lawn darts. Just another example how great the 70’s were.

    Like 2
  31. K. R. V.

    Ok depending on the condition of the wagon, the 10k would not be all that bad. If the trailer could be configured to be a conventional 5th wheel setup, for a truck. I remember my parents towing a 28’ travel trailer down to Florida, from Massachusetts every fall, to spend the winter in a beautiful trailer park called Ramblers Rest. Dad had a 1978 Lincoln Town Car, powered by a 460/4 brl, that he ordered with a factory tow package, that came with dual exhaust, hitch an wiring, plus 3:08 limited slip. There was another couple that were very good friends they would travel with, both ways with a very similar trailer, but a Chevy Caprice Estate Wagon almost just like this. I remember checking them both out before each trip, changing the oils, rotate the tires, check all tire pressures and clean them up. I remember the Chevy was also like above a 1972, that also had a 454/4 brl that was mandatory to get the factory tow package! With dual exhaust and 3:23 Posi Trac! The Lincoln was no slouch towing, but Dad told me in the mountains of VA, that dam big Chevy would jus walk away from my Lincoln! But the Lincoln was only rated at210 hp?!, the Chevy was 360 hp!, the route we all take down from the Providence R. I. Area, where we take the old Tappan Zee bridge, through Western Jersey to rt 78-76, to Rt 81 south. That has/had just two tolls, instead of the Criss Bronx GW bridge and N. J. Turnpike all the way through WASH. DC.

    Like 1
  32. Liam

    I remember when these first came out.
    I was in Texas circa 1972. One of the selling points was that the car would turn 360 degrees, which enabled the driver to literally drive strength into the parking spot

  33. S

    Did anyone notice the white walls on this Chevrolet? They have an interesting design on them – some sort of pattern of some kind. I’ve never seen this. Is there a name or these?

    Like 1
  34. Royal

    This already sold and the new person picked it up and drove it back home.

  35. K. R. V.

    Not actually! The roofs in most cars manufactured in that time period would be able to hold up in a rollover, to a certain degree. Meaning not at 100 mph! , but at legal speeds it’s possible.

  36. DH

    So much doubt! With new, modern tires and suspension components, I would think this could be reasonably safe to drive/tow, but only in dry conditions with little to no wind, and no steep unpaved inclines. Expect single digit highway MPG of course.

    Like 2
  37. Superdessucke

    Building a Weirder Way to See the USA!

  38. chrlsful

    busted – its a joke?
    photoshopped?
    But no matter, just plain mullet headed (or current owner – skinned headed) – gas fill, structure, exhaust fumes, ummm…better stop there~

  39. CharlesS

    My employers wife had one of these campers. I was a year out of HS, just getting started in college. Since I was the flunky, I was sent to work on it when ever it needed something fixed. Since my dad and I had converted buses into motorhomes I knew quite a bit about RV systems which made the bosses wife happy. She used hers a lot, and although hitching to the roof scared me, she never had any problems with it. The hitch clamped onto the roof on both sides. No holes were drilled. Her Olds had a vinyl top. I figured that the clamp would eventually cut or wear through the vinyl. Everytime I went over there I checked the hitch to make sure it hadn’t slipped. It never did. It was nothing that I would have ever wanted to own.

    Like 2
  40. Claudio

    I dont see this combo going very far on any canadian highway without getting stopped and impounded

    • K. R. V.

      If the rig in question had already traveled hundreds of miles, only to come upon some anal attentive mounty, that considers a vehicle that has been fine, was legally marketed in the U.S.A., that has a fine safety record itself. I say then why go to a Country that sells gasoline at three times the price you pay at home? Unless of course you want to explore Alaska! The three times I’ve been to Canada, in a tractor trailer, I experienced, in 1992, $15.00 Canadian Truck Stop hamburgers and $10.00 fries you could not sell in the US for half that! Diesel Fuel at three times the price! Cans of Coke at twice the price! Oh! That’s right they have FREE? Health Care?!! But why do well off Canadians come to the US for health care?

      • Claudio

        Easy , because i am canadian and live in montreal !
        And our road safety inspectors dont let us drive by with dangerous jalopies ! Oh , yeah and like the us border controllers , they are also on a powertrip …

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