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All-Steel "Topper" Still Going Strong
Dale Devine has heard it all when it comes to pickup accidents with his topper installed. In 46 years of sales and manufacture of the steel-framed Caravan Camper, customers have told him about end-to-end and side-to-side rollovers. The story is always the same.
"We've never had one camper completely collapse," says Rusk proudly. "The Highway Patrol even told one customer he might not be alive if it hadn't been for our camper top."
People come from as far away as Florida to pick up Caravan toppers from the factory in Reno, Nevada. The company doesn't ship, and it doesn't use distributors or local dealers. If you want one, you have to make the trip and it's been that way ever since the factory opened in the early 1950's. Local sales aren't the only thing that hasn't changed.
"We haven't changed the basic design," says Devine, who is co-owner of Caravan with Wally Rusk, whose father started the business. "The windows change, the paint changes, but the design has stayed the same."
Caravan tops get their strength and durability from the rigid steel frame and steel skin. Devine says many 1955 units are still in use.
"We've had guys put 4,000-lb. loads up there," he says, noting that common sense should be used. "People carry everything from boats to lumber and pipe."
One thing that has changed about the toppers is the price. In 1955 they sold for about $200. Today, the base price is $1,925. Optional equipment can drive the price up to between $2,500 and $3,400. Options include racks for roof top loads, a variety of windows, truck-bed types, hydraulic door lifts, single and double doors and other items. The camper tops are available for any size truck.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Dale Devine, Caravan Camper Mfg., 1875 Dickerson Road, Reno, Nevada 89503.

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2003 - Volume #27, Issue #1