Sunline Coach Company
Sunline Coach Company, Denver, PA
Sunline was started in 1964 by two men, Wayne Weaver and Lewis Martin. The very first Sunline was built for Wayne Weaver’s honeymoon trip and simply a truck camper mounted in the back of a pickup truck. Following the trip, the company took off as they started building truck campers as well as garden sheds in their garage in Schoeneck, PA and later Akron, PA.
By 1968, Sunline was growing and became incorporated. The growth caused them to have to seek a new, larger location, and the S. Muddy Creek Road plant in Denver, PA was constructed the following year. This would serve as the main manufacturing location for the entire life of the company, though additions to the facility were added at various times to accommodate production volume.
In the mid 1970’s, Sunline underwent some ownership changes. Wayne Weaver chose to pursue other career options, which resulted in John Zimmerman and Wayne Lawrence, Sr. joining Lou Martin to bring a fresh perspective into the business. The atmosphere in the world provided a difficult scene to produce and sell recreational vehicles, but the team’s ideas created many small, lightweight models that proved very popular with the new American consumer, who now were purchasing smaller tow vehicles. This type of product etched the qualities that Sunline became known for through the years.
In 1978, Larry Lawrence, Jr. joined the team, eventually becoming president and CEO in 1988, which also led to the retirement of Wayne Lawrence, Sr.
Throughout the 1980’s, Sunline became known for not only the small, lightweight towables, but they also entered the market of larger trailers (those over 30′) in the mid 1980’s. They really had the eastern US market covered for those who wish to travel as well as those who wish to escape to one campground every weekend to a seasonal site.
The 1980’s also fostered the addition of another manufacturing facility on site, which more than doubled the amount of manufacturing space available. Sales in the 1980’s skyrocketed, and in some years around half of the coaches produced were truck campers.
1987 saw the first hint of the “luxury” aspect with the addition of the Classic option package, which incorporated hardwood cabinet doors, hardwood trim pieces, and higher quality, more comfortable furniture and fabric choices. This package would soon lead to major interior changes to all coaches.
The 1990’s resulted in many modernizations in the RV industry, and Sunline was no exception. 1995 saw the very first slide out rooms. 1992 saw the very first polar white exterior. 1991 resulted in a complete redesign of the cabinet doors to follow a design similar to the Classic package and to make the coach feel more home-like. On the company side, Sunline saw their very first internet website around 1996. Due to changing trends in the industry, fifth wheels and truck campers were discontinued after long production runs, which left travel trailers as the only remaining product. 1996 saw the very first Sunline travel trailer with a slide out, which became a trend that took off.
By the year 2000, a significant portion of the coaches produced contained slide rooms. One model, the T-267SR, combined a slide room, bunk beds, a maneurvable length, and a manageable weight all in one attractive package. This model became very popular with families, as it offered all of that plus plenty of open space for those rainy days inside. While a 3/4 ton tow vehicle is nice to have for towing this trailer, it isn’t necessarily required and 1/2 tons will get the job done, which is an attractive feature for most families.
In 2004, Sunline was sold to an investment firm as the past three owners had a desire to retire. In February of that year, the sale took place and former president Dale Zimmerman, who took over in 2000, became the new executive VP of production. This gave the new firm an edge by having a seasoned person on the team.
Initial changes were minimal, though product development went into high gear. In 2005, they introduced the very first toy hauler travel trailer, an up and coming trend in the industry which allowed the rear part of the coach to haul motorcycles, ATVs, or whatever else one would like to haul in a “garage”. The initial model had a garage with room to haul one of the above, and a model capable of hauling two was introduced later in the year.
In 2006, a very unique product was introduced. It is the only production handicapped capable RV in the market, called the Advancer. At just over 20′ long and relatively low to the ground, it can be pulled by most handicapped vans and all the features in the coach were made accessible for a wheelchair. An optional Braun wheelchair lift was also available. Sunline had a long history in wheelchair accessible coaches as they had been offering modifications to select floorplans for many years, though the modifications were no where near as extensive as was the Advancer offered.
2007 also brought about a revolutionary new product. The Que was a 17’7“ trailer based on principles of earlier Sunline coaches from the 1980’s. The Que was not only designed to be small, lightweight, and have high quality, it was also extremely modern looking for the time and utilized many new, unique products in production. The Que was very much based off of a European caravan, which isn’t much different than a U.S. travel trailer except that it is much shorter than most of what we have here and uses different components. To follow this European theme, Sunline utilized very modern looking appliances and construction techniques while still keeping a “homey” feel with the plush microfiber cushions and window treatments. The Que also used the newest Sunline feature, the cherry wood interior option as a standard feature. So between the smooth fiberglass exterior, the deep cherry wood interior, and bold fabric colors complimented by crisp lines, the Que would make an outstanding studio for the modern traveler.
Unfortunately, November, 2006 brought about some terrible news for Sunline. After 42 years of being a leader in lightweight quality, the decision was made to shut down production. Initial speculation said a buyer was being sought, but that never happened and eventually the assets were auctioned off and the property was sold.
Though the company no longer exists, the legacy left behind has created one of the strongest bonds of owners known who are deeply passionate about preserving their little piece of Sunline history.
Model Years 1965-2007; Calendar Years 1964-11/10/2006; Model years were approximately June to May.
Sunline formerly produced travel trailers, truck campers, truck caps, fifth wheels, and even some mini-motorhomes:
- Travel Trailers: Unnamed (1971-1985), Solaris (1986-2007), Saturn (1986-1994, 1996-1999), Satellite (1986-1989), Seville (1986-1991), Sunspot (1978-1983), SR/Slide Room (1998-2007), Advancer/Advancer Lite (2000-2002), Que (2007), Orbiter (1975).
- Wheelchair accessible Travel Trailers: Advancer 20 (2006-2007)
- Toy Hauler Travel Trailers: Tran-Sport 2675 and 3075 (2005-2007)
- Truck Campers: 1965-1994, under Runabout, Sportster, and Seville nameplates. Seville only post-1986 for luxury package equipped models
- Truck Caps: 1965-197?
- Fifth Wheels: 197?-1996, 2002-2005. Under Solaris nameplate in mid-’90s and 2002-2005.
- Mini-Motorhomes: 1978-1982, under Solaris nameplate. Based on Datsun or Toyota chassis with the 22R engine.
- Commercial step van: 1980-??, under Micro-Cruiser nameplate.
Sunlines had many interior choices. The interior colors prior to 1985 were not formally published, but were commonly different plaid colors with a white base. Many seat cushions have been recovered today. Sometimes the valances are indicative of the original interior color.
1985: Deluxe TT- Blue, Rose, Salmon, Blue Velour, Rose Velour, Rust Velour.
Standard TT & FW- Blue, Rose, Beige, Rust, Brown.
PC- Pewter, Melon, Brown, Rust, Burgundy.
1986: Saturn, Satellite, Solaris- Plum, Rose Green, Brown
Seville- Rose Floral, Blue Velour, Gray Velour, Beige Velour.
FW, Sportster, & Runabout TC- Plum, Rose, Green, Brown.
Seville TC- Rose Floral, Blue Velour, Gray Velour, Beige Velour.
1987: (All Models-) Salmon, Blue, Wine, Rose Velour, Slate Velour, Coral Velour.
1988: Standard Fabrics- Tiffany Blue, Spice Brown, Amber Apricot, Teal Green.
Classic &Seville- Malt Brown Velour, Indigo Blue Velour, Primrose Plum Velour
1989: Standard TT- Hanover Beige, Arbor Teal, Concord Gray, Springfield Rose, Colonial Brown, Brittany Blue. Classic and Seville- Bethesda Plum and Amherst Slate Velours
StarRay- Springfield Rose, Colonial Brown, Brittany Blue
1990: Sunline- Berry, Peacock
Opt. Velour- Mauve Pearl, Blue Haze
StarRay- Adobe Brown, Canyon Blue
1991: (All models)- Tapestry Mauve, Rio Plum, Jewel Blue Velour, Desert Sky Blue
1992: Tapestry Mauve, Rio Plum Velour, Jewel Blue Velour, Desert Sky Blue
1993: Evergreen Velour, Floral Plum Velour, Ocean Blue Velour, Paint Brush Clay
1994: Cranberry velour, Twilight Blue Velour, Spruce Green, Desert Sage
1995: Sand Dune velour, Royal tapestry Velour, Rain Forest Green, Mystic Blue
1996: Peacock, Woodland Brick, Mocha blue, Emerald tapestry
1997: Leaf Geen, Indigo Blue Velour, Blue Denim, Mountain Green Floral
1998: Black Cherry Tapestry, Tropical Green, Blue Denim Floral, Royal Blue Velour
1999: Honey Wheat, Garden Green, Chambray Blue Velour, Country Denim
2000: Blue Wildflower, Rose Vine Tapestry, Moss Green, Pacific Blue
2001: Terracotta, Vine Green, Natural Mocha, Caribbean Blue.
2002: Sandstone, Green Floral Mist, Autumn Rose, Confetti Blue, Tan Ultra Leather (FW only)
2003: Ivy Rose, Natural Leaf, Garden Sage Green, Sky Blue, ’02 Carryover colors for fifth wheels
2004: Fern Blue, Nutmeg Floral, Meadow Rose, Forest Green
2005: Country Blue Floral, Mardi Gras Green, Brown Toffee, Autumn Sunset, Tan Ultra Leather, Black Ultra Leather
2006: Blue Sapphire, Black & Tan, Green Leaf, Celery, Cashmere Leather, Black Leather, Some early coaches with ’05 carryover colors.
2007: Solaris/SR/Tran-Sport- Granola, Tropical Magic, Plum Crazy, Misty Blue
Que- Beach, Oasis, Forest, Country
INTERIOR WOOD CHOICES: 1970s-1990: Interior wood just luan panel with oak trim Late 1980s: Optional interior wood oak/cherry with dark stain, included with Classic Package 1991-2003: Solid oak cabinet fronts and oak cabinet doors. Raised panels included later on, as well as mirrors or bead board. 2004-2006: Light maple solid wood cabinet fronts and cabinet doors. Very modern looking compared to previous oak. 2007: Interior wood choice for Solaris/SR/Tran-Sport. The same light maple (Maple Rustic) as offered before or the new dark cherry (Cherry Petite). Cherry Petite came standard in the Que. Cherry proved popular with about 2/3 of 2007 models choosing this option.
INTERIOR PACKAGES: 1986-1990: Classic Package or Classic Value Package- included upgraded cabinet doors, plus extra Amish Country accents 1992-2003: Preferred Options Group (POG)- included the Oak Kitchen package with oak sink cover, oak paper towel holder, oak entry grab handle (interior), early on an oak spice rack, and also early on an oak magazine rack. 2006-2007: Ultra Package- Added special halogen lighting, leather interior choices, plus a few other goodies.
VIN / Model Identification
For the best tips on identifying a Sunline, please visit the Sunline Registry Facebook page. It’ll help show you where to look for your VIN: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Sunline-Registry/163659057042012
Basically, the VIN is in three places: 1) On the left tongue rail either stamped into the edge of the coupler or on an aluminum plate riveted to the trailer. 2) On the federal ID sticker (metal tag <1975) on the off door side front of the trailer box, but many of these stickers no longer exist due to weathering. 3) On an aluminum plate or plastic tag below the primary entry door sill plate.
All Sunline VINs 1980.5-2007 will begin with 1LC as the world manufacturer identifier. The 10th digit fron the left will identify the model year. All Sunlines prior to that will be five to seven digits, with most being six. The last two digits are always the model year of the coach. Only some Sunspot trailers have seven digit VINs, otherwise they’re all five or six.
It is unknown at this time if the Solaris Mini-Motorhomes have separate Sunline VINs or if they just used the chassis VINs.
Common options were the spare tire kit, winterizing kit, deluxe faucet package, slide topper awning, awning center tension rafter, etc.
All Sunlines from about 1994 and up included the Preferred Options Group (POG) from the factory. This included things like air conditioning, stereo, patio awning, Oak kitchen kit, etc.
One significant option is the fiberglass exterior option. Originally introduced as the Advancer package for any Solaris model in 1997, it gave customers full fiberglass/filon siding, special graphics, and white frame windows/doors. Interiors were no different from the standard Solaris models. It became the SE Package (Smooth Exterior) in 1999. The initial SE package contained the same graphics as the Solaris, just on filon siding instead. The SE package remained up until 2007, but it did receive special graphics in 2003 and a redesign of those graphics in 2006. The SE Package came standard on Tran-Sport toy haulers and the lightweight Que model.
The Sunspot offered a lightweight, easily towable camping trailer. There was no included bath or shower, but the Sun Spot did include a galley, awning rails on the back and sides, and sleeping space for two.
Original MSRP of a 1980s Sunline was around $9000 Original MSRP of a mid 1990s Sunline was around $15,000 Original MSRP of a mid 2000s Sunline was around $25-30,000
The largest known collection of Sunline brochures 1973-2007, restored and uploaded by Sunline Club member Sunline Fan: http://www.sunlineclub.com/forums/downloads.php?do=cat&id=1
1980 Sunspot, driver’s side view:
D and D’s 1981 15 1/2′ SB from Illinois
Dale and Shelley’s T-1350 (13.5′) – Texas panhandle.
Sunline RV Owners Club: http://www.sunlineclub.com/forums/ Sunline RV Fans Facebook