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Airstreams are time in a bubble

Staff writer

The interior of the 1970 Silver Streak Airstream trailer is as vibrant as the sheen of the rounded aluminum on its exterior.

The kitchen sink is flanked by a counter featuring a mustardy hue. An adjacent couch is upholstered with an explosion of browns, yellows, oranges, and reds. The furniture could have been the environment for a gathering of men wearing leisure suits, with Donna Summer playing in the background.

“It’s like a time capsule,” Mark Evans said. “You go inside one, and it’s like going back in time.”

Evans sells Airstream and other vintage trailers from a lot in Marion’s industrial park. He has traveled to 47 states purchasing trailers in disrepair. He acts as middleman between seller and eventual owner.

Evans buys the trailer at a modest price and usually makes some improvements once the trailer is in Marion. He contracts with a company in Peabody to work on windows and welding. He polishes the exterior himself. Polishing the domed aluminum can add $4,000 to the trailer’s value, he said.

The time capturing quality of the trailers caught the interest of his family, but Evans holds no illusions about the 1970 trailer. He does not perform many renovations to a trailer’s interior, preferring to let the owner perform customizations. Evans said he would suggest gutting the 1970 to remove the plastic and composite fixtures.

The notion of a trailer as a time capsule is in the eye of the beholder. Originally, Evans wanted nothing to do with trailers.

Denise, his wife, suggested the family purchase a trailer. She was drawn to the silver bullet design of Airstreams. The vision of a shining aluminum trailer brought back memories. Evans recalled a book from her days in elementary school, in which a family traveled cross-county in an Airstream. That was what she wanted for her own family.

Mark Evans thought trailers would be hastily constructed, low quality. He changed his mind when he saw the inside of it.

The 1963 Airstream featured birch trim on the inside. He counted the many rivets on the inside to gauge the strength. Evans knew he wanted it.

He bought it in Georgia in 2002. The 1963 trailer featured a strong air-conditioning unit, which shielded him from stifling southern temperatures. He stayed in the trailer three months before he found a buyer. When he sold it, Evans had tears in his eyes.

The Evans family has filled its own Airstream with time capsule memories. One was taking their young children to Airstream Park in the mountains of Georgia. Other visitors had hid coins under rocks along a trail. Evans remembers his children finding coin after coin, and their eyes lighting up with each discovery.

Evans is devoted to Airstreams. That love led him to sell the trailers full time after he quit his job as a sales manager for a car dealer in 2007.

Evans has operated out of Marion since 2009. He said the reason he chose Marion was because of its location in the direct center of the country. This past week he planned to pick up an air stream in Idaho, take a stop in Marion, then drive it down to Galveston, Texas, and from there the trailer is shipped to Portugal.

Now, Evans is looking to provide that same feeling of devotion to owners across the globe. His top markets are the United Kingdom and Germany. He gains international exposure through his website, airstreamguy.com.

Last modified July 12, 2012

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