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MailTribune.com
  • Return of 'Model X'

    Harry and David trailer project from '59-'62 still attracts attention
  • After driving from Los Angeles to Southern Oregon with his rare trailer in tow, Bardy Azadmard has grown accustomed to the rubbernecks.
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  • After driving from Los Angeles to Southern Oregon with his rare trailer in tow, Bardy Azadmard has grown accustomed to the rubbernecks.
    "On the freeway, sometimes people drive past, then slow down because they want to see it again," he said during a stop in the Rogue Valley on Monday.
    "Some even try to go around it to see it from every angle," added the Los Angeles architect. "They haven't seen anything like it."
    Looking like something the Jetsons would have towed behind their family spacecraft on a vacation to another galaxy, the trailer is a 1960 Geographic built by Harry and David, the fruit packing firm based in Medford.
    Dubbed the "Model X," the 24-foot trailer is believed to be the first fiberglass trailer ever built.
    "They only made five of them and this was the showroom model," said Azadmard, 53, a luxury home designer who was in Oregon on a maiden trip with the trailer he bought seven years ago.
    "When I got it, I was looking for a storage shed to put on my property," he said of a seven-acre rural Southern California parcel. "When I saw the trailer parked on a dirt road, my first thought was that I could use it for storage."
    A "For Sale" sign had been spray-painted on the side of the trailer, which had been overrun by rats and neglected for years. But there was something about the retro yet futuristic shape that intrigued the architect. He paid $1,500 for the dilapidated vehicle.
    After thumbing through a thick binder containing the history of the trailer, from a sales receipt to brochures listing its features and history, he decided he had more than a tool shed.
    Even before he began restoring it, the University of Oregon graduate was intrigued by the teak walls and cabinets, stainless steel kitchen with double sink, four pull-down gas burners, refrigerator that runs on both propane and electricity, a built-in heater and air conditioner, full bathroom and two sofas that pull out to become two double beds. A recessed lighting panel runs down the center of the 7-foot ceiling, front to back.
    He was also impressed by the table that looks like a 2-inch-thick drawer until it's pulled out to reveal a leaf with folding legs.
    Outside was a wraparound front window and aerodynamic design.
    "The design is amazing," said Azadmard, who stopped by Harry and David's late last week to show the trailer before taking it to an RV rally in Bandon on Sunday.
    The trailers were the brainchild of David H. Holmes, then president of the company named after his uncle and father, respectively. His idea was to build the trailers in the off-season of January through July to provide work for his employees. He hired Chuck Pelly, a renowned designer of racecars, to design the trailers as a freelance project.
    "We feel there is an excellent opportunity to provide ourselves and the Rogue River Valley with further diversification by the local manufacturing and sale of travel trailers over the 11 Western states," Holmes told the Mail Tribune late in 1959 when announcing the project.
    "This will permit the transfer of personnel from one operation to another to maintain a high level of employment and efficiency," he added.
    Known as Holiday House trailers, the firm first built aluminum trailers. By midsummer of that year, Holmes, a World War II bomber pilot, came up with the unique idea of building space-age fiberglass trailers.
    The work on the prototype was in a plant Holmes set up in Van Nuys, Calif., although production of what came to be called the Geographic was in Medford.
    Unfortunately, Holmes' dream of making the unique trailers ended on June 17, 1962, when a fire destroyed the trailer plant. Although the production of aluminum and wood trailers had ceased in January of that year, the fiberglass trailers were still being made, a company official told the Mail Tribune that day.
    Azadmard has spent $23,000 restoring the trailer, whose original showroom price was $8,495. He has painted it a two-tone champagne.
    "Every penny was worth it," he said. "A year ago, I had an offer for $50,000. I said no. Then it was $75,000. I said no again. I have five names ready for me to tell them I'm ready to sell."
    However, if he sells, he said he wants to make sure it goes to an individual or organization who will take care of the historic trailer.
    "It tows so good I forget that when I'm towing I'll get up to 70 miles per hour if I don't watch it," he said. "It tows so smoothly it's scary."
    As for the rubbernecks, Azadmard has placed a sign in the back window advertising his Web site where the curious can find out more about the unique trailer.
    The address is www.1960prototype.com.
    Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 776-4496 or e-mail him at pfattig@mailtribune.com.
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