Save $100 on your NEXT VACATION (Jul, 1954)

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Save $100 on your NEXT VACATION

By Ron and Marion Anderson

STOP FOR THE NIGHT when and where you wish, and at the same time stretch your vacation budget, by building a bed right into your car. We did it, and now find that vacation costs average $100 less because the cost of sleeping accommodations is cut down. We never have to wire ahead for reservations and there is no more stopping in the middle of the afternoon in order to secure accommodations for the night. Figures issued by some of the state tourist bureaus show that more and more people are making their homes for the night wherever they park their cars.

Installing a bed in most cars is easy. It took us less than an hour to make the installation in our 1951 Ford. First remove the back seat and then take out the fiber-board partition behind it. Next, take out the two steel diagonal braces by cutting them free with a hacksaw. These may be replaced later by bolting them back into place, using small steel angles and reinforcing plates that can be purchased at any hardware store. However, we never did put them back, and after two years the car body shows no signs of weakness.

The next step is to buy a steel-frame twin bed with flat springs. Sand and paint the frame, and then slide it into the car through the trunk. Since the standard twin bed is 39 in. wide, it should fit through the trunk opening easily. However, to be certain, take the measurements from your car before selecting the bed, or you may have to cut it down. This isn’t difficult, but it is extra work that might be avoided. Either an innerspring or stuffed mattress can be used. We chose the stuffed type because it was thinner and took up less room, yet provided plenty of comfort.

With the mattress on the bedframe there is still room to dress at the side of the bed, and space under the bed and at the foot for luggage and the spare tire. Screens may be installed in the back windows by removing the metal window frames or trim, taping plastic screen wire in place, and then replacing the frames. For privacy, shades can be made for the windows by cutting cardboard to the size of each window. This is taped over the window at night and stored at the head of the bed during the day.

Although much of the convenience of traveling with a car bed comes from being able to stop when and where you wish, you may prefer to park overnight at one of the hundreds of trailer camps dotting the country. Standard rate for parking your car and using toilet and shower facilities is $1 for the night. Camp sites are available in national and state parks. And often large restaurant and gas-station stops have places for you to park. In addition, with your car as a sturdy, weatherproof “tent,” you can have all the pleasures of camping out.

7 comments
  1. Craig says: June 20, 20089:13 am

    It’s really cool that they have a chick making the modifications as well as The Handy Guy.

  2. katey says: June 20, 20088:40 pm

    This seems scandalous for the mid 50s… a couple sleeping in ONE twin bed on the roadside?

  3. Githyanki says: June 22, 20089:39 am

    Wouldn’t a small tent and a inflatable mattress be alot easier to deal with. Also give you more room to pack stuff in the car.

  4. Bob says: June 23, 20088:28 pm

    If they traveled in a Nash, they would have had seats that converted into a bed without modifications.

    The ability to convert the seats into a twin bed was a selling feature of the Nash for a number of years. They even sold screen inserts that fit over windows. My pop owned a 1950 Nash Ambassador. He didn’t camp out in it, but he no doubt got a little kick out of driving a car with a reputation as a love nest on wheels.

  5. Toronto says: June 23, 200810:48 pm

    Gith: not especially. It can be hard to find a good place to put a tent alongside the road sometimes (though others have more skill than I.) I expect that it would be more difficult again as a couple.

    (I bicycle tour and camp, solo, with a 2-man tent. The real pro stealth campers use hammocks.)

  6. Adrian says: June 25, 20082:47 am

    If there’s still so much room left in the boot (trunk), why do they have to use a roof rack with all their luggage on it?

  7. Aryea says: July 14, 200812:07 pm

    Bob: I know what you mean. I used to own a 1954 Hudson Jet when I was younger that I replaced the stock front bench seat with a Nash Seat-O-Matic (as it was known). This was also a bench seat, but the back of the seat would lower down in a series of increments by turning a knob at the base of the seat back. The last setting of course, was dead flat, which will allow you the slide the front against the rear and create the equivalent of a twin bed. With a blanket and pillows (which I always happened to carry in the trunk), I had a cosy little getaway wherever I happened to be. The reason I went through all this trouble? Girls of course! At that time, mothers would not let their daughters date boys who drove a Nash, just because of the afore mentioned seats. But because I drove a Hudson (a nice staid family car), I was considered ‘safe’. Little did they know, eh? This was the reason I used to check _my_ daughter’s boyfriend’s cars when they came calling. We were all teenagers at one time. ;)

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