Pre-Winnebago: 1949 Buick Super Camper

Old-school camper conversions aren’t uncommon finds on these pages, but they don’t pop up all the frequently for sale in anything approaching conditions worth living in. This 1949 Buick Super camper conversion isn’t awful, considering how old it is – but it will still be some time before it’s a space you’d consider inhabiting. The old-school-cool factor, however, is off the charts. Find it here on craigslist for $3,500 near Minneapolis. 

I hope those side view mirrors are aimed correctly, as you aren’t going to see very much through the porthole-like rear window. The design of the living quarters from the outside is odd – it’s practically a square box all around until you get to the little lip over the rear of the camper with that subtle half-archway design. I’m almost certain the camper component was something different entirely before it was bolted to the rear of a Buick; anyone agree?

It seems like someone either had a runny nose or used tissue paper as a key building material – not sure why else you’d see this much paper just scattered about (and not cleaned up before taking photos). The insides are spartan, so it’s clear this camper was not made any time in the last few decades, as the creature comfort features are lacking. The good news is you don’t need to go outside when it’s cold if you’re simply pulling over for the night and catching a quick nap.

Up front, there are many signs of age (and more paper!) The door panels look quite tired, as do the floors. The bench seat is better than expected, but I’d still factor in a top-to-bottom cosmetic restore – not to mention the likelihood of needing critical systems like brakes, tires and suspension all inspected and updated. Last but not least, that camper component is crying out for a modern refresh. Is this historic camper conversion worth converting again?

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Comments

  1. Mark S. Member

    It make a Google parts car but not at this price, $500.00 tops.

  2. Dave Garwood

    Those might be dryer sheets. Used to keep mice and other varmints away…I have no idea if it actually works.

    Like 1
    • Jamie Shannon

      It does not.

      Like 1
      • Doug

        They keep spiders away (ask any boater), but varmints? No.

        Like 1
      • Bill McCoskey

        Best way to keep rodents away is to place snake skins in the engine compartment, trunk and floor areas, changing them every 6 months or so. Rodents can smell the skins and assume it’s a real snake. This has helped keep field mice out of various cars for the last 30 years. I get the skins from local snake owners who gladly save them for me.

        Another anti-rodent trick – spray a 5% bleach solution around any holes into the car to erase any lingering rodent pee. That’s how they leave tracks to return. Also plug smaller holes [anything bigger than a dime] with coarse steel wool, they cannot eat thru it.

        Like 1
    • mike

      They like to play with them.

      Like 1
  3. Madmatt

    I may be lazy at times,but I would have at least
    swept up the trash,and give it a bath!This could be really cool,
    but the spare tire would have to go elsewhere,
    that would help the mirrors do their jobs.I love the “toothy”
    grills of early 50’s buicks,this would be
    a lot of fun at a campground,or car show.
    Price Does seem sorta high,But these don’t come up everyday!

  4. Paul

    I bet they are dryer sheets for mouse control

    • Brian Gould

      More likely raccoon toilet paper.

      Like 1
  5. fahrvergnugen

    Why bother with the passenger-side rear view mirror? All you can do is check the tread wear on the spare.

    Like 1
  6. JACKinNWPA Jack in NW PA Member

    Not sure about mice but dryer sheets make good air fresheners, not that this camper would need them. It would be very cool to restore (update) and actually camp in.

  7. Whippeteer

    It would be a fun starting point. I think the plywood shelf becomes a table when not a bed. I think that the cot above it would be a challenge. They do a good job of pointing out the problem areas on their website.

  8. Pete

    Yes I feel its worth saving.

    I’d change the camper inside just a little but keep it old school. What I see so far is superficial. Although it looks mostly complete, the frame, engine and drive train are more of a concern. I’d love the buggy against the barn behind it.

  9. jdjonesdr

    Pull the box off and throw on a period pick up box. A buickamino!

  10. Little_Cars Alexander Member

    Those photos make this look like a double-dud project. The Buick needs to be restored completely. Dash and steering wheel appear to be decent. The other “dud” in this equation is the camper. Plywood construction, very little in the way of desirable amenities. If this had a propane powered stove or running water tap the vehicle could actually be parked at a campsite and be practical. Meh…..I’d be concerned of the quality of frame attachment behind the driver. There are two frame shots…they don’t tell much. Also, I would suspend it differently in the back. Right now it looks like the box could fall off at any time with a distinct backward-facing tilt to it in one photo.

  11. DB

    When I was growing up in the 60s in Billings MT, there was one similar to this down the street one block, I think it was on a Cadillac though, but very similar vintage. I always thought it was pretty cool.

  12. redwagon

    try as you might you will never get rid of the smell of musty wood paneling.

    if you need any other reasons NOT to purchase this there are more pictures at the website here:

    http://www.rufusranch.com/49buickcamper.htm

    it’s just not my cup o tea.

    • Loco Mikado

      You could get rid of the musty wood by fogging it with a smoke fogger. They are used to get smoke smell out of houses that have had fires. They work on other smells too I am surprised they are not used. Probably because they are specialty niche item, hmm maybe my road to riches.

  13. howard maryles

    What a scrap heap! Perfect for demo derby!

    • TCOPPS Tyler Member

      I see the perfect portable Ice Shack. Those mirrors a definite plus. To each his/her own.

  14. LAB3

    It’s a tad steep for what you’re getting but I love it! Never saw these old car camper combos before coming to this site and I love the concept. Kudos to the back yard customizers of the past, my kind of folks.

  15. ulm210

    Reminds me of my son’s bedroom… he does not have allergies

    Like 1
    • Dusty Stalz

      lmfao

  16. Anton

    Maybe use a Airstream or Teardrop trailer on it…?

    • DavidL Member

      You’re right. The car is basically destroyed as a candidate for restoration to original state. Now class this up w/ an Airstream w/ car painted to complement maybe bright red(?) to go w/ the shiny metal finish. trick out the driving compartment w/ custom white and red upholstery, do a job on the engine, chrome parts, speed equipment. The Airstream addition could be really luxurious though tasteful (no shag or velvet!).
      Do this right w/ the Airstream, custom paint, engine rebuild or replacement and I think it could be a real showpiece!

  17. Chris Londish Member

    Looks like it could have been set to be an office or writers haven far from the distractions of every day life

  18. John L

    Someone needs to say it:
    Total P.O.S.
    Does not warrant salvation.

  19. Jack Quantrill

    This is a creation by northern rednecks who have more tattoos than teeth! A horrible mutilation of a classic!

    Like 1
    • Loco Mikado

      This was built long before the current tattoo craze, more likely made by the parents or even grandparents of the people who get tattoos. When it was done it was just another old car.

  20. tugdoc

    Pull over for a quick nap in this and you’ll wake up in the crusher! Any HOA officers out there!

    Like 1
  21. JW

    When did Jethro move from Californy to Minneapolis ???

    Like 1
  22. grant

    Somebody basically just destroyed a nice old car. I don’t really see any purpose for this one other than the scrap pile

  23. Paul Cheshire
  24. duaney Member

    Yes, it’s awful. There have been tastefully done RV conversions on cars, but this is not one of them.

  25. Rodney

    Is it just me, or isn’t everyone creeped out by wads of balled up
    tissues or whatever all over the interior? What ever the party was here, I am glad I was not invited…

    Like 1
  26. newfieldscarnut

    The tissues are from the current owner crying nonstop about buying it in the first place .

    Like 1
  27. Mark Evans

    Already mutilated so why not do a well thought out el camino conversion, unlike the original camper.

  28. Lawyer George

    I would tear the camper off as I don’t believe I could ever sleep in it given it’s current state. I would replace it with a pick-up bed, or else frame up a camper and glue it on. I’d have to replace the seats and rest of interior.

  29. sluggo

    I personally really like it. Sure its a little hill billy,, but back in the day this likely was built I can picture some guy just cut from the DIY type cloth. Its pretty hammered these days but back when built I bet a lot of people thought it was cool.
    Sure is a lot of haters on here on this one. Why so negative? Seems weird how some people dont like something they want to see it destroyed (Crash/Scrap) What if Ken Howard lived in this for a while traveling and doing artwork? Arlo Guthrie camped in it! Parked outside Alices restaurant.
    Screw the haters,,, seems over priced but I vote COOL COOL COOL!

  30. Little_Cars Alexander Member

    Cool, yes! Worth the money, maybe? Well done back in the day, possibly! But the truth is these projects, DIY or not, do not age well. The dodgy workmanship becomes evident after the ravages of time take over. The fire bomb idea and maybe white vinegar could get the living quarters more inhabitable. Looks like the last inhabitants did a number on the drapes and probably had 4 legs and big teeth. Woof!

  31. Bob

    My grandfather bought a new Buick in 49. We had to go down and show it to his mechanic right away. The “barrel” speedometer was considered very trick. He liked it so much, he bought one for my mother. Seemed like a huge car for her.

    I wonder what the Buick show people would think if you pulled in in this?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lcJT5oJIus

    Like 1
  32. Jack Homen

    Conversions such as this were fairly common after World War 2. They were built for folks who wanted a daily driver and camp out on the weekend without pulling a teardrop camper. Seems I read recently there was a company in a Denver who did this very thing for years as a business. Remember this was prior to the explosion of trailering, camping and motor homes.

    • sluggo

      Amen Jack H, you are correct, There was very little in the way of Commercial RV business in the 1940s and even into the 1950s it was rudimentary. But the growth of the market was explosive.
      I have several 1950s magazines and amusing articles in them showing HOW to camp and how to pack gear, how to set up that gear. The view of the articles is educating people who had zero outdoor experience. It is amazing to read these articles exhorting people of the benefits of going outside and enjoying nature.

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