Tiny Cargo Trailer Conversion – Exterior

The exterior: The final stretch! I had initially sanded the original paint and had a plan to have it wrapped. I did that before a lot of other projects started. Lockdowns put the wrap on hold. My goal was to paint it to match my GTI. So, I decided to try a matching spray paint. It did not work well at all. I’ve spray-painted plenty of small projects in my life. But this was my first attempt at spraying a large surface. There were streaks everywhere, no matter how much I overlapped.

I took some advice from a cargo trailer conversion group, sanded that coat to act as a primer, then coated with a roll-on exterior paint that had a similar tone as silver. It looked good from a utilitarian view point and from a distance. But I was not pleased with the results up close. A prissy part of me wanted it to appear more “automotive” and to match my car. I used the trailer once like this. Other than that, the trailer just sat while I worked on other parts of the project. I stripped this paint off within a few weeks; I really wanted to pursue that wrap!

Unfortunately, my mother passed away as I was working on the exterior and attempting to finish the interior. My wife and I wound up taking a road trip from VA to CA to retrieve my mother’s cats and some of her effects. We took the baby trailer on that trip. The baby trailer was very useful, but that was also the first time that I wished I had the cargo trailer instead. The cargo trailer project continued to stagnate upon our return as we adjusted to our new normal. Three months later, we decided that we needed to go BACK to CA for another load. This time, the cargo trailer is coming with me. The thought of having one container with one lock that can stay loaded each evening motivated me to get the this project finished.

In 2021, the lockdowns have relaxed a bit and I decided to pursue the wrap again. I mentioned that I had stripped the exterior paint from the trailer (again). This time, I went over it again and sanded it to bare metal to give the wrap installer a super-clean surface to work with. I also painted the trim rings since we had an unusually warm day. Once at his shop, I removed the fenders and rear door so that there would be fewer seams in the vinyl. He had the trailer for about four hours. After the job, it was still warm enough to cure paint, or caulk, in this case. So, I caulked the edges of the trim rings and door hardware, then swapped to a set of black wheels to mimic the look of the car. Here’s how the trailer looks now…

The wrap doesn’t match the car as closely as the sample did. I suspect that’s either because my car has faded a hair since first comparing the sample two years ago. Or perhaps the wrap itself is a hair darker when applied to bare metal instead of white backing paper. Either way, I’m pleased with the outcome, even if it’s not a perfect match. See the photo album below for a closer look at the metallic color. If you’re wondering, I’m not planning to camp in the trailer during the upcoming California trip. It’s not a leisure trip and I’m not prepared for winter camping; plus, I’ll have cargo on the return trip.

At this point, the trailer is 95% finished. I’ll share one last entry when I have finished my rear door solution: A slide-out. Feel free to watch a video series about this project on this playlist. Thanks for sticking around for the journey.

Finally Shiny!



About Scott

I grew up near Houston, TX and served in the U. S. Coast Guard for over 30 years. I have an electronics background and continue to work in the electronics engineering field. I taught myself the basics about automotive systems as well as how to perform some of my own maintenance (cars and bicycles). I became involved with Amateur Radio and computers in 1995. The explosion of technology has made my job and several of my hobbies quite interesting. My hobbies include Volkswagens, bicycling, photography, electronics, amateur radio, web management, and reptiles. Visit my websites to learn more.
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5 Responses to Tiny Cargo Trailer Conversion – Exterior

  1. That’s pretty awesome. I have a 5×8 v-nosed trailer I’ve converted into a small camper

    • Scott says:

      Very nice! Sometimes, I wish I had a 5×8 instead. But they’re heavier. I weighed my trailer yesterday: 760 lbs. My conversion added 160 lbs. So, a converted 5×8 from the same maker would probably weigh 1000 lbs, which is a bit high of an empty weight for my GTI. Thanks for visiting!

  2. Sam says:

    Beautiful work Scott.

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