Here's a picture and article from the entertainment supplement to the Albuquerque Journal. It seems that car shows are the new venue to show off your restoration project. I hadn't planned on going, but I will now. Here's the cute headline--"coveted Airstream" If only they knew:
Friday, February 2, 2007
Owners of Restored Vintage Camper Trailers Love to Draw Attention
By Stories by Dan Mayfield
Journal Staff Writer
As Gene Heaslet would drive home from work to Bosque Farms, he used to see this old Airstream trailer parked in a field.
Sure, it was a dirty old hunk of aluminum in an old lot, but he saw something in it, his wife, Sarah, said.
"Gene spotted it a few years back in the South Valley and at that time somebody was living in it. About a year went by and he went back by there, and he noticed there was a regular mobile home and there was a guy living in it," Sarah Heaslet said.
He knocked on the door and offered the guy $500 to take the old trailer off his hands. A new Airstream can cost as much as $100,000.
"When he bought that Airstream, a couple of biker dudes had been living in there and it had orange shag carpeting in it and didn't smell too good," Sarah said.
That was four years ago. Since then, the Heaslets have restored the 20-foot 1964
Airstream Globe Trotter trailer and have been taking it— called affectionately "Gene's Stream"— to vintage trailer rallies across the nation, to the Rose Bowl, and this weekend it and several other vintage trailer rigs will be meeting at the annual Supernationals car show.
The Heaslets have become a major part of the local trailer- head community.
They haul the rig around with a similarly vintage 1962
Cadillac Series '62 Coupe, a car that's almost as long as the full-size Airstream— together the rig is about 40 feet long.
At car shows, the Heaslets and the rest of the trailer-heads, are just as proud of their rigs as the guys with the cars— but they can take you on a tour of the inside, showing off nice touches like refrigerators, vintage TVs, and custom designs that make the trailers more homey than their size would suggest.
"We have our own bathroom and we're very popular at car shows," Sarah Heaslet joked. "We were the first to bring a camper out to a car show four years ago. ... It was the first time anybody brought a full-size trailer to a show."
Then, it was pulled by a 1936 Ford flatbed pickup.
"It kind of bounced down the road, and with not such good suspension. I told Gene I wanted a smooth ride, and he found that old Caddy, a smooth ride," she said. The rig is comfortable enough that Gene said he wants to drive all of Route 66 from Chicago to L.A.
About the same time the Heaslets were discovering the fun of a vintage trailer, so were others. They're part of the growing Southwest Vintage Camper Association, a group that has about 400 members across the country and who attend several trailer rallies across the country.
Albuquerque's Karen and Kenny Campbell— who helped start the SWVCA— may have the largest collection of vintage trailers. Mostly known as "canned hams" for their shape, the Campbells' trailers may be smaller, but they certainly don't skimp on the luxury.
The Campbells' pride is a 1957
Scout trailer, a short canned ham with a Reddy Kilowatt theme.
"With all the new homes in the 1950s, electricity was the big thing," he said. "They were promoting electric and they put these medallions on the front of new electric homes. Well, I found one on eBay and we put that next to the door and outfitted it with art-deco sconce lights on dimmers, an electric water heater and a microwave, though we hid that."
Where do you get a trailer? Well, in Albuquerque Larry Hill has become the guy. He runs Retro Restoration, a company in Albuquerque that specializes in restoring and rebuilding vintage trailers.
He likes the canned hams, and old Shasta trailers with little wings. Last week he was working on a Corvette brand trailer for the Supernationals show.
He bought his first several years ago as a prop to pull behind his 1958
Chevrolet Biscayne. Then it just consumed him, he said.
He started the company two years ago and has since restored 31 trailers. He buys them for a few hundred or few thousand dollars, and fully restored they sell for $12,000 to $20,000, but they have original 1950s titles. But he adds brakes, something the originals don't have.
"My little trailers are new, or better than they were in 1950
. For the price I sell mine for, less than a pop-up, and those are useless after a few years and these are appreciating in value," Hill said. "It's something I enjoy, except when I get one with a bad sewer system."
WHEN: Friday, Feb. 2, from noon to 10 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 3, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday, Feb. 4, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
WHERE: Expo New Mexico
HOW MUCH: Tickets are $11.50, or $9 at all NAPA auto parts stores in advance. Free kids' passes are available at local McDonald's restaurants. Visit www. thesupernationals.com