During the 1960s, LEER, SNUGTOP and Century began manufacturing camper shells for pickup trucks in response to the growing demand for basic truck canopies. The companies produced camper shells to fit Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford and GMC pickups, as well as the Datsun mini-truck.
Travel and outdoor recreation grew throughout the 1960s. Initially, many pickup owners made their own canopies and camper shells to protect their camping equipment while driving. Around the country, small businesses started to feed the growing demand. Some businesses designed more elaborate camper shells, which converted the pickup truck bed to a sleeping enclosure.
In the late 1960s, John Collins started LEER when he realized that he could produce camper shells utilizing the same materials that were used to manufacture recreational vehicles. Bob Kyle, who had previously produced aftermarket hardtops for European sports cars, introduced a cap for the original Datsun mini-truck in 1965 and quickly transitioned to building camper shells for other vehicles. He called them Snug Products, but later changed the name to SNUGTOP. Century Truck Caps began producing camper shells and tonneau covers in the late 1960s under the names of Ram Aluminum, 20th Century Fiberglass and Century Fiberglass.
The camper shell, also called a cap, topper or canopy, has evolved into a sleeker, more aerodynamic vehicle accessory since the 1960s. LEER, SNUGTOP and Century are still leading manufacturers, despite new competition in the camper shell market.