Aristocrat Vintage Trailers

Aristocrat Trailer History

See the old flyers, manuals, labels and other original documents in the Photo Gallery Page (link above).

 

Aristocrat Trailers - History

The father of Aristocrat trailers is Irv Perch. Over 170,000 Aristocrats were built and on the road between 1958 and 1970. In 1972, he began manufacturing the American Clipper mini-motor home, eventually closing with the gas crunch of 1980. Irv was elected to the 'RV Hall of Fame' for his lifetime dedication and contributions to the RV industry. 

http://www.rv-news.com/feb1997/news.htm

I. B. "Irv' Perch, founder of three RV businesses in a career spanning more than 40 years in the RV industry, has been selected for induction into the RV Hall of Fame. "After a lifetime in the RV industry, building products that I hoped the public would enjoy, I am honored to be chosen for the Hall of Fame," said Perch. "However, I am not done yet, I've still got just one more for the road."  In the 1990s Irv manufactured a line of hard-sided, folding RVs called the Fold-N-Roll, Perch is best known for founding the Aristocrat trailer line. In 1972, Perch founded and manufactured the American Clipper mini-motor home, until the gas crunch that stretched through the 1970s forced its closure.

 

More About Vintage RVs & Aristocrat Trailers on the Internet

 

Here’s what I found through searching the internet…Tammy

Aristrocrat Lo-Liner Trailer

http://www.rv-news.com/sept1996/newrv.htm -photo

Aristocrat, American Clipper Founder Irv Perch Is Back Making RVs

Irv Perch is best remembered for his line of Aristocrat trailers. Over 170,000 Aristocrats were built and on the road between 1956 and 1970. In 1972, he began manufacturing the Ameri-can Clipper mini-motorhome, eventually closing with the gas crunch of 1980.                          http://americanclipperownersclub.com/perch.htm

It should be noted that Irv has been elected to the 'RV Hall of Fame' for his lifetime dedication and contributions to the RV industry. http://www.rv-news.com/feb1997/news.htm

http://www.grandpatime.itgo.com/photo.html

Mfgr. Irv Perch on right. I'm [Neal Vonada] on left - Aristocrat was the VW of RV's.

FindArticles search for "Airplanes / Design and construction"  - couldn’t get this link to come up

The father of Aristocrat trailers has one more for the road It is 5 a.m., not yet light, when Irv Perch starts his day. He has an innovative design for . ...

www.findarticles.com/p/search?qt=Airplanes+%2F+Design+and+construction&tb=a...

http://www.vintage-vacations.com/trailernames.htm Irv Perch started Aristocrat in 1956 [58 per Vonada]

 

Gilroy Dispatch CA  - Jun 13, 2007
http://www.gilroydispatch.com/news/contentview.asp?c=216791

Before the Dream of the Math Institute, There Was the Flying Lady

 

http://www.rv-coach.com/current_category.1962/Forum.38776/offset.150/forum_thread_full.html

 

http://www.myrvguide.com/current_category.1962/Forum.83636/forum_thread.html

We purchased our 1965 Aristocrat Lo-Liner Trailer in June 2007. Interested to learn more of our vintage camper I searched the internet. Our trailer still has its “Von’s RV - Seattle” sticker on the back. From the web I found the RV business is still going and discovered that the founder is quite a character of interest. Neal Vonada started Von’s RV and created a website with a variety of photos, facts and stories (http://www.grandpatime.itgo.com/photo.html).   ~Tammy, Salem OR

 

 

Tribute to Neal Vonada (1926-2008) & Irv Perch (1928-2008)

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Received the following news from Neal Vonada's son-in-law.

I found this most interesting, the original founder and owner of Aristocrat Travel Trailers passed away in California the day before and less than 24 hours before Neal. They truly were friends and partners to the end.

 

Amazing that these two men who shared a common bond in the trailer world died nearly at the same time. Two big losses for the Aristocrat community. Our sympathies go out to both families.

 

The following death notices were found online for Irving Perlitch:

http://www.rvinews.com/News/tabid/16941/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/878/Travel-trailer-pioneer-remembered.aspx and

http://www.morganhilltimes.com/news/242488-flying-lady-founder-dies

http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_9191182 - Sillicon Valley

 

Glad to know the two men stayed in touch all these years. I remember Neal telling me that he had called Irv and relayed some info from him.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Our sympathies to the Perlitch family. There have been two losses in the Aristocrat community. Long time friend of Irv’s and fellow RV pioneer, Neal Vonada, died on May 1, 2008.  Neal who owned Von’s RV in Seattle documented some trailer history on his website:  http://grandpatime.itgo.com. Neal was practically a daily present on the almost year old Aristocrat forum...offering help, advice and memories – many of his friend, Irv. Thankfully he left us many postings to document information and his wonderful stories. What a legacy these men leave behind!

 

There are still many of these vintage trailers in use – some restored to like-new condition! May our forum and all Aristocrat enthusiasts continue on in memory and appreciation for Irv and Neal and all their accomplishments through the years!

 

Blessings of comfort and peace. ~Tammy & Bob, Salem OR

 

Our sympathies to the Vonada family. What an inspiration Neal ("Von") was to many. We purchased our 1965 Aristocrat Lo-Liner trailer in June 2007. Interested to learn more of our vintage camper I searched the internet. Our trailer still has its “Von’s RV - Seattle” sticker on the back. I found Neal’s website and was intrigued by the history of our little trailer and this man who was so involved in the initial phases of “trailering.” Neal responded quickly to my inquiries and was eager to share his wealth of knowledge. With Neal's encouragement I started the Aristocrat forum. He was practically a daily present on this forum...offering help, advice and memories. He will be greatly missed!  Thankfully he left us many postings to document information and his wonderful stories. What a legacy he leaves behind!

 

May our forum and all Aristocrat enthusiasts continue on in memory and appreciation for Neal and all his accomplishments through Von's RV and beyond!

 

Blessings of comfort and peace. ~Tammy & Bob, Salem OR

http://groups.msn.com/AristocratLo-LinerTravelTrailerForum

 

 

May 7, 2008        Neal, we at the Aristocrat Forum, will miss you and your wisdom greatly.

Always quick witted, special anecdotes to share with all of us, and so much knowledge! He was our glass of wine, we drank from his knowledge, ideas, inspiration.

We will have his posts on our site forever.  Neal was a dear friend to all of us at the site. He was always there to offer advice, share chuckles, or a kind word.

We will miss him greatly, but appreciate that we had this opportunity to know him, and call him friend.

Thank You for sharing the family photos on this site, they are a treasure,
Aristocrat LoLiner Owner    Teresa A.  (Portland, OR)  

 

Irv Perch, 80, perpetual entrepreneur

RAN S. COUNTY RV EMPIRE, FLYING LADY EATERY

By Denis C. Theriault, Mercury News   http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_9191182 - Sillicon Valley

Article Launched: 05/08/2008 01:36:45 AM PDT


<script language="JavaScript"> var requestedWidth = 0; </script><script language="JavaScript"> if(requestedWidth > 0){ document.getElementById('articleViewerGroup').style.width = requestedWidth + "px"; document.getElementById('articleViewerGroup').style.margin = "0px 0px 10px 10px"; } </script>When asked once whether the demise of another of his many business ventures was weighing on him, Irv Perch had a question of his own.

"Why would it bother me?" he told his daughter, Julie Belanger. "There's always something else to do."

Sure enough, until Mr. Perch died last week at age 80, there always was.

First there was the Army, then a furniture store. Later came his several forays into the RV business and the two incarnations of his beloved Flying Lady Restaurant, a South County institution. He also dabbled in the motel business and for a time with a food-cart operation.

"He was a workaholic," Belanger said of her father, a larger-than-life South County figure in ubiquitous white coveralls. "He had a saying: 'The best fertilizer for the soil is the owner's shadow.' "

Mr. Perch, a native of Philadelphia - where his businessman father unofficially shortened the family's name from Perlitch - got an early taste of entrepreneurship in 1956. That was the year he devised one of the first pickup truck camper shells. It was fancy - it came with dinette seating and a sink, refrigerator and stove - but didn't catch on.

Still, that didn't dim Mr. Perch's dream. After a brief stint with another trailer company, he set out on his own in 1958, turning an abandoned Morgan Hill chicken processing plant into the cornerstone of an RV empire.

The company, dubbed Aristocrat, offered camper trailers like nobody had ever seen, hailed for their lavatories, convertible couch-beds and lifetime guarantees. By the early '60s, it became the world's largest RV manufacturer.

Belanger remembers the day a faded Aristocrat trailer hustled past the family's home and her father running out to chase it. He invited the driver to follow him to the factory for a top-to-bottom refurbishing.

"You might be the fourth person to own the trailer, but if something went wrong, he'd fix it for free," Mr. Perch's daughter said. "Every trailer going down the road was an ad for his trailers."

Demand was so high and business so hot that Mr. Perch had to add two factories. He also designed a roomy house in Morgan Hill for his family, which had grown to include three kids looking for a place to play. The family moved there from a house where a door and two sawhorses had served as the kitchen table.

"That's how well and how quickly things changed for my parents," Belanger said.

Eventually, in late 1969, her father sold the company and bought 200 acres in Morgan Hill with his eye on another dream: building a family recreation area that he called Hill Country. There he built the first, smaller version of the Flying Lady (named in honor of his wife, a pilot) a golf course and museums with old-time cars and planes.

Later - after another try at the RV business went bust amid the gas crunch of the late 1970s - he opened a new Flying Lady. With three levels and room for 2,000 patrons, it was one of the world's largest restaurants. He also put his family to work, with Belanger out front as hostess and her brother Michael taking shifts behind the bar.

On Sundays, Dixieland musicians serenaded customers drawn by the hundreds to the Flying Lady's legendary buffet. Overhead, immaculately detailed model airplanes, three to four feet wide, swirled around the dining room on a track.

He also owned life-size planes, including his crown jewel, a 1929 Ford Tri-Motor plane that appeared in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom." It was one of a handful left in the world.

The planes were only one of many collections Mr. Perch had amassed over the years - often in rapid fashion. He was fond of clown paintings and once had the world's largest stash of license plates.

"If he wanted a collection," Belanger said, "he went out and bought someone else's collection."

A tragic incident in 1989 - a walkway collapsed at a memorial service, injuring a dozen or so people - marked the beginning of the end for the Flying Lady. Lawsuits and red tape surrounding inspections kept the restaurant shut for a time and forced the business into bankruptcy. Hill Country is now the home of John Fry's golf course and math institute.

Mr. Perch had one last tryst with RVs, setting up shop at a Gilroy factory and developing the Fold-N-Roll trailer before health concerns forced him to quit in 2002.

As for retirement, "he hated that word," Belanger said. "It was boring."

Indeed, Mr. Perch remained restless, finding yet another passion: baking. He would spend hours crafting recipes for the cookies he'd give to friends. Before he died, he'd only just begun perfecting the apple turnover.

And the cookies? They were passed out at his memorial service.

Irving Perch (Perlitch)  Born: Jan. 13, 1928, in PhiladelphiaDied: April 30 in San Jose.

Survived by: His wife; his son; his son and daughter-in-law; and his daughter and son-in-law. Services: Have been held.  Memorial: Donations in Mr. Perlitch's memory can be made to any Salvation Army branch.

 

 Tribute to Neal Vonada (1926-2008)

 May 6, 2008

To all: Neal was born in Detroit, Michigan on Christmas day 1926. His passing was a sudden event, he was healthy and strong, living a full and independent life. He died peacefully surrounded by his loving family, in Seattle.

During his life, Neal accomplished many wonderful things. At 16, he asked his mother to sign a letter stating that he was 17 so he could join the Merchant Marines. She obliged and set in motion the adult life of an amazing person. Neal saw duty in WWII in both the
Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and was a veteran of world travel by the time he returned to Seattle just before his 18th birthday.

Upon returning home from the war, he went back to Queen Anne High School to try and finish his education. By then he was a “man of the world” and found it difficult to sit in class. He went on to a veteran’s study course, took his GED test and passed it with the highest score ever achieved by anyone at that point in time.

Neal was always an over-achiever. Not because of any desire to be “great”, he just knew how to treat people. Upon graduating from high school, he started selling Fuller Brushes.  He was top Fuller salesman in the nation 4 years in a row.

Later Neal worked at Evergreen –
Washelli Cemetery selling burial plots and helping grieving families with arrangements for loved ones. Something he was very well suited for because of his gentle nature and excellent way with people.

He was a pioneer in the recreational vehicle industry. He was founder and president of VONS Aristocrat Trailer Sales from 1958-72. At the height of his career Neal operated 6 locations. Neal was responsible for starting RV shows as we know them. When the Kingdome was built here in
Seattle, he was instrumental in solidifying the deal by agreeing to lease it every year for 5 days, 10 years in a row for an indoor RV show. He was a past president of the MHRA and helped create many of the associations still operating today in the RV and Mobile Home industry. Some safety features included on modern day RV’s were invented by Neal, such as the “escape windows” found in most all of today’s coaches.

About 1975 he started Airpark one of the first off site parking lots near SeaTac airport. Later in he started A Better Telephone Store, one of the reasons being so that he could then work with his family as they returned from college. He built this into the largest telephone store in the country, and included a national mail order division, all before the Internet came to be.

About 10 years ago, Neal joined MENSA, an international group of individuals with above average IQ’s. He loved being involved with MENSA and eventually founded his own groups. His favorite was Mpositive. This group consisted of people from all over the globe and he communicated with them daily via e-mail and telephone. He was the elder spokesman and many people sought his advice on life’s tribulations. Neal had a profound impact on some of these people and many view him as a second father. When he passed away on Thursday, we received over 50 e-mails from around the world in less than 10 minutes. They continue coming in daily.

Some of you who are reading this may also know Neal as “Grandpa Time,” a name he has earned by offering a free time and temperature service from a machine in the basement of his home (call 206-361-TIME). In the Seattle Times archives is an article telling about this service and what it means for many people.

Neal loved people and always had plenty of stories to share with them. He is survived by two daughters, 
a son , two step-sons, Scot, and a very special woman in his life. He is also survived by nine loving and adoring grandchildren, who knew him as “Grandpa Magic.”       
You are so loved and missed Dad   - Vicky

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