The Original CJ5 Camper Prototype

The Original CJ5 Camper Prototype

Here is a unique approach for including a camper to a CJ5 Jeep.  The first problem is the Jeep has an extremely short wheel base. This makes it difficult to mount a camper in the bed.  However inventor Charles Prater came up with a workable solution.  To accommodate for additional overhang at the rear of the vehicle and axle was incorporated into the base of the camper.  The axle would help support the back of the camper giving it more stability. This idea allowed Jeep owners to have a camper they could use to venture out into the wilderness and camp.  The size of the camper provide plenty of living and sleeping space. One other feature is that the camper was a slide-in style that allowed for easy installation and removal of the camper.  If the camper wanted to off-road or boondock they could simply remove the camper at the campsite and help out into the adventure.

Jeep Camper

Jeep CJ5

The camper was offered as a factory option.  Honorbuilt Division under the brand El Dorado manufactured the camper. The camper mounted to the bed of a CJ5. Due to length on the camper it had an excessive overhang therefor the camper included an axle with brakes. This additional axle carried most of the weight of the camper.  The camper also included a cab over section the extended above the front seats.  The slide in design made it easy to install through a small opening in the floor. Using a large pin the camper would be secured as it connected to the Jeep drawbar.  To make sure that there was enough power to handle the addition of the camper unit it was recommended that the minimum engine size be a Buick V6 Dauntless with 4.88 gearing

El Dorado Camper

Sources indicate that the camper was built by El Dorado.  Operating out of the state of Kansas and California, El Dorado was a recreational vehicle outfitter from the early 1960s through to the 1990 model year. Building fifth wheel travels ranging from 24 to 34 feet, truck campers and an array of motorhomes, El Dorado also engaged in van conversions during the mid-1970s. From 1983 to 1990, El Dorado was focused on the construction of Class A and Class C motorhomes. The production of El Dorado motorhomes would continue after 1990 under the El Dorado/Honorbuilt company.

Here is a magazine advertisement for the Jeep Camper

advertisement Jeep Camper
Ad Text:

Jeep Escape. New family camper for you ‘Jeep’ Universal.

With the ‘Jeep’ 4-wheel drive, you can say goodbye to crowded campsites! Put on this new ‘Jeep’ Universal with V-6 engine.
Room for the whole family. Notice how smoothly you cruise the highway. How easily the whole rig handles!
Back in the boondocks park your camper and cut loose!
You can really “Take off and go hunting, fishing, exploring.
Inside, it’s like a small yacht on wheels. Sleeps 4. All the floor space and features you expect: kitchen, running water, toilet, ice box, etc.
Go shopping in your Universal. Tackle any job. It’s truly one of the ‘Jeep’ 2-Car Cars. Winches, etc. available. See you ‘Jeep’ dealer. You’ve got to drive it to believe it.

‘Jeep’. The 2-Car Car
June 1969

Patent Abstract

Here is an excerpt from the patent abstract explaining the unique characteristics of the camper.

A load carrying vehicle such as a camper adapted to be detachably connected to a tractor vehicle of the pick-up truck body type, preferably of the four wheel drive type having a cargo compartment body box positioned behind the passenger compartment, and a draw-bar or rear plate carried by the chassis of the truck at the rear of and beneath the body box or cargo compartment.

The camper or other load carrying vehicle has a centrally disposed bottom section adapted to be positioned within the body box or cargo compartment of the pick-up truck vehicle, and to be secured to the draw-bar or rear plate positioned at the rear of the truck.

The camper has aligned laterally enlarged or wider sections, (1) to overlie the sidewalls of the members defining the bed or cargo compartments of the pick-up truck, and (2) to overlie the passenger compartment of the tractor vehicle, and (3) positioned at the rear of or behind the tractor vehicle.

The camper or load carrying vehicle has a pair of independent wheels beneath the wider section positioned at the rear of or behind the tractor vehicle to support a portion of its load of the camper.

These independent wheels are preferably at a wider tread width than the wheels of the tractor vehicle to stabilize the camper vehicle and to prevent excessive roll of the assembly consisting of the tractor vehicle and the camper as it rounds curves or transverses rough terrain.

Patent Image for CJ5 Camper


Truck Camper HQ Website moderator. Loves camping and especially love truck campers. If it has to do with a truck camper I want to know about it and share it with others.

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