I really enjoy at times getting the opportunity to be a bit creative when restoring
a camper, and this old Winnie was such a case. I purchased this 1973 Winnebago Brave
from a previous owner that had let their seven year old grand daughter decorate the
interior herself. Everything was covered either in latex paint or cheap contact
paper... even the hardware and counter tops. With no economical way of putting it
back to original it became a perfect palette to play with, and I wanted to do it
on a budget. I decided it would be fun to do one up in a Tiki theme, much like the
popular tiki bars of the 60’s.
I started out by cutting up all my leftover scrap paneling (birch, ash, oak and luan)
into 3” strips and attached it to the walls in random angles, and then stained it
all with an oak stain. The different wood grains left the random colors, a look
I wanted. I did strip the cabinet doors of the old paint, carved the center of each
out and affixed small bamboo reeds behind. I trimmed the edges of the cabinets with
real bamboo poles. For the ceiling I used bamboo fencing from a local big box store.
Instead of carpeting or vinyl I used astro turf (fake grass) on the flooring. After
peeling off the blue contact paper (and the remaining glue) I discovered all the
laminate surfaces were in good shape, the original bright yellow, which I kept. I
stripped the latex off of the hardware and painted it all with a dark brown hammertone,
leaving it with an old aged metal look.
Decorating it was half the fun. Tiki stuff is fun to find, online, thrift stores,
luau sections of the dollar stores, and some I created myself... The bedroom light
fixtures are dollar store green plastic cups wrapped in bamboo for example. Finished
up with curtains sewn up out of tropical flower print material. Final touch is the
real surfboard propped up outside.
The exterior is pretty much the way I got it, due to the construction there is no
practical way to reskin a Winnebago. I did treat it to a new paint job in white
and lime green. I duplicated the original Winnie stripes but in the green and yellow,
original was orange and brown. On the rear corner where it had the “Brave” logo
I hand painted the new “Tiki” logo, now dubbing this one the TikiBago. I also replaced
the old rooftop air conditioner with a new Coleman unit.
Mechanically the old Winnie was in great condition, it only has 50000 miles on her.
I originally purchased it thinking it would be great to tow another vintage trailer
to rallies with, and with a big 440 Chrysler engine she can. She’s very fun to
drive but we soon discovered it’s not so much fun on a long cross country trip, it’s
hot, noisy and the fuel economy is horrendous. Now I only recommend these old motor
homes for short trips.
The TikiBago now resides as one of the popular rental units at our Starlite Classic
Campground. We parked her next to an awning and it comes with the use of a outdoor
Tiki Bar, complete with a hand crank blender for making those Pina Coladas on a hot
day. It sleeps up to six, has a full bathroom and comes equipped with all the linens,
towels, dishes and cookware... Just bring your clothes, food and drink and enjoy!