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My New Project – Vintage Apache Camper

How a vintage apache camper came to be such a big part of our family.

When I cautiously informed my husband that I wanted my next project to be remodeling a vintage camper (there’s a whole trend on this, called “Glamping”), I expected his answer to be not just “no,” but, um, “really really no.”

Nothing could have prepared me, in that instant that my request hung in the air between us, for what he actually said, which was… “OK.”

Before he could come to his senses, I started combing Craigslist for a cool old Shasta or Airstream camper that wouldn’t need much “real” work, but just some fun redecorating.

Turns out those are hard to come by, at least at my price point.  (Except for the one scam out of Las Vegas, but one thing I’ve learned in life is that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.  But that’s a whole ‘nother story.)

Fast forward a few weeks and many “discussions” later, and here is my new baby:

Our new project - a vintage Apache camper

It’s an original condition vintage1976 Apache Mesa hard-sided pop up camper.  While not a tin can type, we decided this one really did just need a little TLC, as opposed to a complete overhaul, so it was a better candidate for our first foray into vintage camper restorations.

1976 Apache Mesa camper interior with original brown upholstery and curtains

Before us, it belonged to an adorable family whose 2 little girls grew up having camp-outs and sleepovers in it.  Those little girls are now adults, and the family decided their camper could go to someone else to start making more happy memories.

1976 Apache Mesa camper interior

Part of the reason I love restoring old things is because they have history.  When we met the family, we fell in love with this camper’s history, if not its orange and brown polyester interior.

So check back here over the course of the summer to see how we get rid of the polyester and vinyl while keeping, and creating more, happy memories…

Update: We did it! See part one of the process here for how we started working on our vintage Apache camper, or skip to the finished project here.


Thursday 11th of June 2015

Did you paint the outside of your camper? We just bought one yesterday and the orange part is dinged up a bit. I was not sure if it would be something I could do myself or if I needed to have it done. If you did, what products did you use and how?


Friday 12th of June 2015

No, we didn't have to paint the outside. The paint was pretty faded, so I used a turtle wax product called something like "renew" that's specifically for that purpose. You should probably consult with a car repair person if you're thinking of repainting. Also, did you know there's a Facebook group dedicated to preserving and restoring these Apaches? They're a great source of information.

Becky H

Tuesday 19th of May 2015

I came across your blog through Pinterest and wanted to Thank you so much for sharing. We recently purchased a well used pop up and I am in the middle of sewing new curtains and recovering the table cushions. Thanks for the inspiration. Your camper looks Great!


Thursday 21st of May 2015

Thanks Becky! I'm so glad to help. It's amazing what a little fabric and paint can do. Did you see the finished product post? I hope you enjoy yours as much as we loved ours!


Sunday 22nd of February 2015

we just got a 1976 apache as well. mine is smaller than yours though. and it looks to me like some things are diferent in ours. we have a pull out kitchen. it pulls out to the out side. mine still has the browns and yellows. i can not wate to work on them!


Monday 23rd of February 2015

How exciting! It'll be a great little camper for you, and that slide out sounds really cool. Have fun!

Our Apache Camper is Finally Finished! - The Palette Muse

Sunday 23rd of March 2014

[…] First I re-covered the beds and changed out the curtains. You can see that post here, and more of the original before pictures here. […]


Creating a color-filled life. Conquering my little world one DIY project at a time. With lots of coffee and chocolate. Albuquerque NM. Pinterest ~ Instagram ~ Facebook