You Could Own One Of The Best-Looking Truck Campers Ever Built

The vast majority of RVs out there feature just one boring level to camp out in. Some campers get a tad spicy with two levels, but they have nothing on what’s rolling across Bring a Trailer today. This is the Del Rey Sky Lounge, and it’s a super rare camper that technically has three levels. There’s a main floor, an observation deck, and a tiny bedroom at the tippy top. Did I also say that this is one of the best-looking truck campers ever built?

A number of readers have asked for more coverage of pickup truck slide-in campers. It’s easy to see why because truck campers offer a lot of advantages. Having the truck separated from the camping unit means you can upgrade or replace both separately. You can also remove the camper from your truck to use it as regular pickup again. Truck camper setups usually tend to be compact and you’ll often still be able to tow a trailer, too.

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The operative word above is “usually,” because some companies take the whole pickup truck camping idea to an almost comical extreme. Host Campers is a good modern example. Decades ago? Del Rey wanted to be the king of oversized truck campers. The Sky Lounge may be mid-century excess with a capital ‘E’ but it is one of a few campers you’ll appreciate looking at. This one comes paired with an equally stunning Chevrolet C20 CST Custom Camper underneath, this is the kind of camping rig you’ll want to take to car shows. Thank you for the latest tip, Hugh C!

Three Layers Of Awesome

1968 Chevrolet C20 Pickup 027 We

If you’re getting some Deja Vu vibes here, it’s because I wrote about a similar Del Rey almost three months ago. The Del Rey Sky Lounge was built to be a mid-century palace on the back of a pickup truck and it appears few have survived into the modern day. Despite that, a glistening example just failed to meet reserve on eBay and now a fantastic gold example is on Bring a Trailer.

1968 Chevrolet C20 Pickup 018 We

Normally, I wouldn’t write about the same camper twice in such a short span of time, but this one is truck and camper combination is in vastly better shape than the one I wrote about a few months ago. We believe it deserves a highlight of its own. Maybe I can find a lot of money in my sofa cushions.

Trucks - You Could Own One Of The Best-Looking Truck Campers Ever BuiltDel Rey Industries

This truck slide-in was built by what was once the largest producer of truck campers in America. William Overhulser created Del Rey Industries and along the way created inventions that are still in use today in the truck camper industry. From my previous article:

Overhulser was born in 1927 and lived most of his life in the Elkhart, Indiana area, earning a GED along the way. As the RV/MV Hall of Fame notes, in 1952, Overhulser started his career on the lines of Richardson Homes, one of the largest producers of manufactured homes. Overhulser’s stint at Richardson Homes lasted just five years because his real dream was to start his own company. That dream came true in 1957 when he opened Lil’ Sport Coach in Elkhart.

Del Rey Sky Lounge Camper BrochuDel Rey Industries

Overhulser built those first travel trailers out of his family’s garage and later renamed his company Le’ Safari. Reportedly, this upset Airstream, the registered owner of that name. This forced one more name change to Del Rey Industries, which translates from Spanish into “of the king.”

Overhulser didn’t just build campers, either, as he sought to make RVs safer. The RV/MV Hall of Fame states that Overhulser, through Bock Industries, invented the camper jack that you’ll find attached to countless truck campers from the early 1960s and into today. Overhulser didn’t stop there. In 1969, he invented a new way to secure truck campers to truck beds. In 1999, well after his retirement, he invented a form of automatic emergency braking for trailers that utilized air tanks and a brake pedal for the towed trailer.

Bookreaderimages.php (12)Del Rey Industries

Overhulser sold his Del Rey firm to Gladding Industries in 1969, and it’s believed the company survived about another six years before ending production. As noted above, Overhulser didn’t spend his retirement fishing or on golf courses, but figuring out other ways to improve the RV experience.

The RV Industry Association says Overhulser was one of its founding members. It took until 2016 for Overhulser to be inducted into the RV Hall of Fame. Thankfully, he got to witness that before his passing in 2020.

Fit For A King

1968 Chevrolet C20 Pickup 077 We

That brings us to the gorgeous combination before us today. This Del Rey Sky Lounge looks similar to the last Del Rey featured here, only that one was marketed as a “Deluxe Hunting Lodge” for families of six. That camper has the same floorplan as this one, but with different colors.

We know a bit more about this Del Rey than the last one. It is a 1966 model and Del Rey said these campers were built out of two-inch all glued wood construction. The side walls of each Del Rey are banded by steel strips. The floor is made out of 2 x 4s and thick aluminum serves as the camper’s siding and roof. Del Reys were marketed as all-season camping rigs featuring full fiberglass insulation. Other standard features included interiors made out of hardwood, plastic laminated countertops, a magazine holder, and anodized aluminum trim. Del Rey boasted that its hardwood interiors could be cleaned up and polished just like your furniture at home.

1968 Chevrolet C20 Pickup 479 We

1968 Chevrolet C20 Pickup 478 We

Those features aren’t too impressive. What is fun is how Del Rey was able to fit six to eight people in a camper sitting in a truck bed. When you open the door, you start on the camper’s first floor. This has all of your basic (and heavy) amenities from a stove, icebox, holding tanks, and a bathroom. You’ll also see the dinette down there as well as some basic heating and cooling. Del Rey says these campers came with 30-gallon water tanks and some boondocking was possible thanks to the availability of 12V power and 110V shore power.

When you’re on the road, passengers can hop one level up into the Sky Lounge. This second level provided your kids or in-laws a panoramic view of the road ahead. Del Rey said the standard cushions were five inches thick, so things should have been relatively comfortable. Of course, there are no seatbelts up there, so crashing isn’t advised.

1968 Chevrolet C20 Pickup 492 We

1968 Chevrolet C20 Pickup 483 We

The Sky Lounge’s final trick comes when it’s time to sleep. Those seating areas turn into beds, but that’s not all. Behind the observation lounge is one more level, and it’s a tiny bedroom. There isn’t a ton of space in there, but it’s big enough to be a functional primary bedroom. Well, so long as you don’t mind tripping past your kids sleeping in the Sky Lounge on your way to the bathroom. That third level swings out of the way when you’re not sleeping to add more space.

That’s how Del Rey marketed these rigs as tri-level campers. If you really wanted to flex on the campground, you could climb up the rear-mounted ladder and catch some rays on the roof. And you needed to have some cash for this as on top of the camper, Del Rey said you needed at minimum a three-quarter-ton truck to haul a Sky Lounge.

773bGateway Classic Cars

The other part of this equation is a 1968 Chevrolet C20 CST Custom Camper. This truck comes from the Chevy C/K’s second generation, which made its debut in 1967. Dubbed the Action Line, the second-generation C/K marked an evolution of Chevy’s workhorse from a truck that was just for work to one that was for play and daily driver duties, too. Chevrolet added carlike convenience features to these trucks and advertised them as trucks that drove like cars.

Updates to the C/K in its second generation include better corrosion resistance, and double-wall boxes, and most C10 and C20 trucks rode on coil spring trailing arm rear suspensions. The idea there was a smoother ride. Leaf springs were still available for hard-working C/Ks.

1967 Chevrolet AdvertisementChevy

This truck comes in top-of-the-line CST trim, which made convenience features such as a cigarette lighter, brightwork, and thick carpeting as standard. CST trucks also could be optioned with bucket seats. The Custom Camper part of the C20’s name is what Chevrolet used to call its camper-spec trucks. Optioning your C20 as a Custom Camper netted it a higher GVWR and options like having camping wiring installed. Other options include heavy-duty springs, air-conditioning, a paint stripe, bucket seats, and more.

In addition to all of these goodies, this is also a Golden Anniversary truck, built to commemorate 50 years of Chevy trucks. That means a lot of gold inside and out. I hope you like gold!

1968 Chevrolet C20 Pickup 311 We

1968 Chevrolet C20 Pickup 328 We

Power in the truck comes from a 396 cubic inch V8. Now, this was right in the middle of the Malaise Era, so you won’t be surprised to read that Chevy advertised these engines as making just 220 HP net, or 325 HP gross. At least net torque was 320 lb-ft, so that’s not bad. That power reaches the wheels through a three-speed automatic.

The truck has a pretty cool story, too. It was purchased new in 1968 from Capital Chevrolet in Denver, Colorado, and then stuck with its first owner for five decades. The original owner loved the truck so much that he had the original dealership cover the carpet in plastic. That plastic stayed there until the owner sold the truck through Gateway Classic Cars all of those decades later. The original owner even had the truck repainted in its original colors in 1991 to keep it looking fresh.

1968 Chevrolet C20 Pickup 498 We

Modifications over the life of the truck include a dual-saddle fuel tank added in 1970, a dual exhaust in 1985, and 4:11 gearing added in 1990. The engine also saw upgrades in the form of a metal cam and crank sprockets and a new timing chain.

The current seller picked up the truck in 2023 and added the Del Rey Sky Lounge at that time. It’s unclear if the original owner had this truck hauling campers, but it’s doing that job today. The truck shows just 94,000 miles, but it looks far better than its age and mileage would suggest.

1968 Chevrolet C20 Pickup 403 We

I’m sure you have questions and I do, too. Thankfully, the seller has been happy to explain more. Despite appearances, the Del Rey Sky Lounge sits about a foot shorter than today’s often 12-foot-tall truck campers. It’s just 10 feet, 6 inches tall, which means even the infamous “Canopener Bridge” won’t touch it. Other good news is the fact that the truck still hits 10 mpg with the camper on top.

A Rare Chance At History

Some people like to say “they don’t make them like they used to” in regards to cars, motorcycles, and other machines. Sometimes, it’s spurious such as in regard to vehicle safety. In this case, I think the saying fits. You just won’t see truck campers like this in the modern day. In some regards, that’s a good thing. As cool as that observation deck is, I don’t want to picture a crash. Yet, at the same time, just look at this whole finished product and tell me it isn’t one of the coolest things you’ll see this week.

1968 Chevrolet C20 Pickup 071 We

This Chevy truck and Del Rey camper combo is also a rare one. Most old campers die a sad death of rotting in fields. This one looks like it’s in the prime of its life. Who knows when you’ll see another like this? Okay, that logic may be iffy since another pristine example went up for sale just a few days ago. But a Del Rey isn’t something you’ll see every day.

Right now, bidding sits at $42,000 with 4 days to go on this glorious combination. I’m not sure if that’s a deal, but it sure it pretty. Either way, if you buy this thing you’ll be sure to snap necks everywhere you go.

(Images: Bring a Trailer Seller, unless otherwise noted.)

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