The RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum’s newest exhibit features a retrospective on the evolution of the iconic Shasta brand of travel trailers, according to a press release.
The display includes a 1954 Shasta that’s been in the museum’s inventory for years and a 2015 reissue of a 1961 Shasta Airflyte 16sc, courtesy of Mick Ferkey, owner of Greeneway RV, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., and a member of the RV/MH Hall of Fame board of directors.
While the reissue of a 1961 Shasta Airflyte 16sc has the look and style of the 1960s model, it is fully equipped with modern features and appliances, including a full bath.
“Shasta has a rich heritage and is the industry’s longest producer of RVs. The brand has been in continuous product since its founding in 1941,” said Hall President Darryl Searer. “When Californian Robert Gray built the first Shasta ‘house trailer’ to be used as mobile military housing, he had no idea his homes on wheels would play a major role in establishing a billion-dollar industry — or that the little trailers would spark wanderlust in Americans that would carry them across the miles and into the next century.”
The evolution of the Shasta display in the museum actually began when Mark Lucas, president/general manager, Shasta RV, a division of Forest River, noticed a red 1961 Shasta for sale sitting in a front yard, just up the road from his office in Middlebury, Ind.
Lucas said, “I’ve always been a car guy. I’ve restored and customized a bunch of older cars. My wife has a 1960 Cadillac convertible with a white interior. So when I ran across that 1961 Shasta I envisioned towing the restored 1961 Shasta behind my wife’s car. I bought it and brought it to the factory.”
As it turns out, a restoration was not as easy as Lucas first thought. “We started to pull it apart and discovered it had aluminum water tank and aluminum water line, so I said, ‘Pull it out and we’ll replace it.’ They said, “It’s got that old style wiring,” so I said, ‘Pull that out and replace it.’
Lucus’ crew kept pulling it apart until they ended up with a bare frame. He laughed and added, “That wasn’t part of the plan — my wife’s going to be pretty mad. I got with our engineer Mark Dunnison, and we started researching parts and found that about 80% of what we needed was readily available.”
Dunnison suggested to Lucas that they just build a brand new one for him.
But rather than just building one, they came up with the idea of building 1,941 in honor of Shasta’s first year.
Lucus said, “There were some things that were hard to find. We had to get a casting made for the Shasta emblem on the front, and we replicated the door handles. Vendors really stepped up for us. For example, Hehr International, an RV window manufacturer, remade those awning style windows for us.”
Lucus unveiled the 2015 reissue of a 1961 Shasta Airflyte on the opening day of 2014 RV Open House, and by noon the next day, the complete product run was completely sold out.
It was during the RV Open House that board member Mick Ferkey noticed the product and fell in love with it. Ferkey knew the museum already owned 1954 Shasta and thought a display of the 1954 Shasta alongside the reissue of the 1961 could be an exiting and educational exhibit for museum visitors.
The problem was that Shasta limited sales of the new model only to its own dealers, and Ferkey was not a Shasta dealer.
Ferkey talked to Lucas about his idea and ended up convincing him selling him one for display in the museum.
“I think it’s fantastic,” Lucas said. “One thing that I’m honored to do is to direct such an iconic brand such as Shasta. So to have our reissue of the 1961 Shasta Airflyte sit beside a 1954 Shasta at the RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum is exciting, and it’s also humbling.”
Museum visitors will find the new exhibit in the Go RVing Hall and will be able to compare the advances in enhancements to the RV lifestyle between these two historic travel trailers.