Greg and Lisa Patterson of Mattoon, S.C., were at Antique Week in Texas four years ago when vintage camper trailers first caught their attention.
They noticed that vendors were using the campers as mobile shops, clothes changing rooms, and homes away from home. Greg Patterson said his wife wanted one of her own, so he found a vintage Shasta camper back in Illinois and fixed it up for her, the Journal Gazette/Times Courier reports.
After refurbishing the camper, Patterson said many passersby stopped to inquire if it was for sale during the following weeks. Patterson said he subsequently rebuilt and sold a couple of vintage trailers and got “hooked.”
“It’s very fulfilling,” Patterson said. “You get a lot of satisfaction seeing something that would otherwise be falling apart be rebuilt and put back into service, hopefully for another 50 years.”
His interest in this work has led Patterson and his wife to start a faith-based business, Classy Chassis Vintage Campers. Patterson rebuilds Airstream, Kit Companion, Roadliner, Scotty, and other vintage campers. He also is developing his own line of vintage-style campers.
Patterson said he started using a workshop for his camper projects two years ago and then they bought a building at 93 DeWitt Ave. a year ago. The building is also home to Lisa Patterson’s Junkin4Jewels boutique.
In October, Patterson left his left his job as a union construction superintendent in the Champaign area after 20 years in the construction business so he could focus on Classy Chassis Vintage Campers.
“I decided to do campers full time,” Patterson said. “We did a lot of praying about it and decided we were going to try it.”
Patterson said he rebuilds campers to sell through Classy Chassis and for customers in need of service work. For example, Patterson said he has been repurposing a customer’s 1964 Trotwood camper for use as a vendor trailer.
Classy Chassis can install air conditioning, refrigerators and other modern amenities in vintage campers, but Patterson said he also tries to reuse as much of the original material and components as he can.