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A Montague man had no idea when he rolled into Charlottetown with his newly-purchased old motor home he’d become an instant tourist attraction.
Monte Gisborne bought the 1964 Dodge Travco in White River, Ont., and made the 2,600-kilometre trek to P.E.I.
According to the research that Gisborne did, it’s the oldest working commercial motor home in Canada and possibly North America. Nothing on this vehicle has been modified. It’s original from front to back.
He stopped by The Guardian on Wednesday to let this reporter have a peek at it. When he pulled over to park on Kent Street, he drew a crowd. No one on the sidewalk walked by, they all stopped to look and chat.
“I think it’s wicked,’’ said Greg McCardle, one of the visitors, his eyes wide open with astonishment. “I love old stuff and I’m a gearhead. This is totally cool in my world.’’
“We were both blown away,’’ said another woman after she and her husband were given a tour of the inside by Gisborne. “When we walked by I knew I had to check it out. I’ve never seen the name Dodge on a motor home.’’
“I’ve been getting the big thumbs up from a lot of people,’’ Gisborne said, describing his journey from Ontario. “I’m just a wacky son of a bitch. I’ve always had such a keen interest in search and rescue (items) or junk as some people call it. You know, things that are iconic, things that are absolutely wonderful and bring joy to people.’’
Gisborne was born in British Columbia and lived most of his life in Ontario. He’s been living in P.E.I. for the past three years.
He also goes by the name Shan Long. He and his wife Luo Dan Ni (Daniela) run a business together called Long Run Enterprises Inc., which operates the red Chinese junk boat sitting at Peakes Quay Marina. They have an eight-year-old daughter, Li Qin Lin (Dominica). Gisborne’s wife and daughter are originally from China but became permanent residents of Canada last year.
Not only was it The Guardian’s first look at the old motor home, it was also the first time Daniela had seen it.
“I always say my husband is a crazy guy,’’ she laughed. “He always does something I can’t imagine.’’
It wasn’t an easy trip on gas. It took him four litres to travel 13 kilometres through the hilly areas of Ontario and 34 litres of fuel to go 161 kilometres between Ottawa and Montreal. The trip cost him about $850 in gas.
“You know what, that’s not bad for an old rig like this,’’ McCardle said.
Gisborne won’t say what he paid for the motor home but did say it would have sold brand new in 1964 for $9,000 U.S.
“Think about the time period this was built in,’’ Gisborne said. “It was just before the Beatles stepped onto the stage to do the Ed Sullivan Show . . . and it was after the October crisis of 1962. The world had lightened up a bit.’’
Gisborne is playing with the idea of putting the motor home in car and truck shows on the Island as well as renting it to tourists this summer.
“It’s all about putting a smile on people’s faces,’’ he said.
Gisborne can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Just the facts: 1964 Dodge Travco
- The motor is a Dodge 318, original powerplant with push-button automatic transmission
- The vehicle had 96,560 kilometres on it when he bought it
- The body is entirely made of fiberglass
- Sleeps six people
- Paint and most fittings are original
- The American Travco Club is searching the vehicle’s serial number to determine exactly how early in the production schedule it was made. No one has seen a single-door model before