We love our trailer "The Classic" (1966 Aristocrat Classic 23'). However as avid campers we were not fond of the camping in a trailer idea. But because of the need for some business travel and lodging a trailer seemed like a fun way to enjoy the work ahead of me. My budget was very limited, but my time and potential was plentiful. I new I'd be fixing something up. What it was wasn't too much of a concern to me. Via every internet venue I viewed thousands of trailers for sale, called over 100 and physically only seen 2. The Classic included. My first question to everyone I called. "Any dents any leaks"? "Well you know...". Needless to say even the first one I saw had leaks she didn't mention and I found on my own.
Then I called Steve. " No, no leaks and no major body damage. But the inside has a desk mounted to the wall". When I seen it I hoped it would be as good as he said. It was. Original white wash paneling in great shape, 4 burner stove (turquoise), unused oven and broiler, even the propane lamp glass was still there (none of which did I know the value they had to Craters). It was better than I could have hoped for considering the price. If I recall correctly he was asking around $600 and I paid around $400. Oh yea, this was around ten years ago though. Before everybody started hauling off Gramps old trailer to fix up or sell (at least to my knowledge). We got it fixed up enough to stay in for a few nights at a time. Which would satisfy my need for work. Wood flooring, DIY upholstery, some spray paint, grinding and lots of cleaning. Appliances worked too.
When the job started travel and lodging was already covered. So I now had a trailer I was beginning to fall in love with every improvement we made, but no real need for. Around this time my wife was on her second pregnancy. And using the trailer for camping became more palatable. We really enjoyed it and got a compliment or two when we took it out. I like classic cars and attend shows annually. I knew other people might appreciate its vintage nature. What I didn't know was its vintage value. I was sleeping in one of only two Classic model Aristocrats. To the knowledge of those I know. Paul from Vintage Trailer Magazine had never seen this model. Which was the strongest confirmation of my presumption. Because it was a travel model and not a park model it's size and weight alone were problematic for most vehicle of its era. And not just considering horse power but all limitations of the transportation available then. With all the bells and whistles my F-150 van offer it's a beast to maneuver. I doubt they had the traffic issues of today. The speed limit was 55 for everyone and they still did 45 just to be polite.
It was less than two years ago I came to know about Vintage Trailer Rallies. It was just something on the radar I had heard about. I still didn't understand the momentum of the movement. Most of the shows I looked up at the time where not in my area. Or I was busy. Then Lodi came around and I was able to squeeze in half a day to check it out. Frank (my Father and Vintage VW autodidactic genius) and I went together (www.trailerfestrally.com). Knowing he might like it and to give me some company. He and I both loved what we seen more than expected. Along with the great stories and good conversations we had with other self fabricators. DIYer's. Hook, line, and sinker. I was going for the bait and it looked good. I wanted to be a part of this community. After showing a few other Aristocrat owners photos of mine and seeing their confusion to what they were seeing, I knew I had something special. But I still didn't know exactly what. Initially all I knew was that it was an Aristocrat. I didn't even know they had a different model name. None of the people I met there could tell me what it was. I was intrigued. With those same folks advice I was able to find info online. Thanks Ya'll. Not much to find. Not even a figure of how many Classics sold any given year, which was something published for most other makes and models. No brochures, just one layout, black and white with a short description. As a kid I collected baseball cards so I knew that if you had something rare it had value. Socially and monetarily. The ladder is temping, but social value can be priceless. Meeting new friends, raising children in good community, being outdoors and much more.
It was also a first for my family to be without Tanya (Mom) on a camping trip. Which also meant it was the first time the boys and I had gone on vacation / camping alone. Tanya was already scheduled for a Spartan Race in Monterey. Championship series. She got a chance to see all the pros race through the obstacle she was volunteering at (sand bag carry). Which is really cool to experience. The boys and I usually race too. But a chance for me to take The Classic to its first rally was on the same weekend. After some diligence we found a way for it to work for us all. Tanya had a great race. The boys and I talked about things men do and made weird noises through dinner too. Guy stuff. Their great campers and have good camp etiquette. The neighboring trailers seemed to appreciate their youthful nature, and good demeanor. The Boys enjoyed the donuts and root beer floats. They're already excited for the next rally. We already have reservations to attend Santa Cruz and Napa rallies.
We have never been to Gibson Ranch Park. Another first. GRP was welcoming and calm. Even with the Burning Man Preamble going on. The place is large and well maintained. The animals there were an added bonus for the boys. They kept wanting to find the peacock. Which they finally did. It was beautiful. The entire weekend was beautiful with just enough cloud cover during show time to keep the trailers cool. The Classic was well received. I am very proud of all the effort we put into it.
Thanks to the attendees for all the great stories and works of art to tour. Thanks to Vintage Camper Trailers Magazine for putting the event on.
1966 Aristocrat Classic 23'