Figgatt isn't the only Kanawha County resident with vintage-camper fever. Brian Farkas, executive director of the West Virginia Conservation Agency, and his wife, Adrienne Worthy, executive director of Legal Aid of West Virginia, have also been bitten by the bug.
Originally from northeastern Ohio, the couple now live in Frame, but they regularly travel to Ohio to visit family.
"We saw it for months, maybe years, sitting beside the road at a used-car lot in Perry, Ohio," said Worthy, speaking of the couple's Cadillac motor home. "We'd stop and look -- we wanted it. Every time we were up there, we'd stop and visit.
"So finally I decided, without telling Brian, to buy it. My family up there was in on the plan. They picked it up and parked it at my parents' house.
"We were headed up for Thanksgiving -- the kids were all in on it. We drove by the car lot, Brian looked and said, 'It is gone!'"
When they arrived at their relatives', Farkas was surprised to find his dream camper parked in the driveway. That was more than a decade ago.
Farkas picked up the story from there:
"We bought it and it broke down on the way home and sat in our driveway for about 10 years," he said. "And we decided we were either going to fix it or get rid of it."
They decided now is the time to fix it, and recently engaged Dave Hudson, of Hudson's Auto Service in Marmet, to rebuild the engine.
The Farkas-Worthys are not campers; in fact, they haven't been camping yet. Farkas said they decided to buy a camper when their three boys were younger, but he had always wanted a vintage Cadillac like his grandfather had.
"When this came available, we thought, 'Wow, it is a camper and a Cadillac -- it fits both needs.'" But after the breakdown and subsequent parking of the motor home, the family's dream of getting back to nature was waylaid.
At this point, they aren't even sure they'll like camping. "Who knows? Maybe we'll fix this up and trade it on a vintage sports car," Farkas joked.
Their Cadillac motor home is a rare 1955 model. The origin of these limited-edition motor homes is hotly debated. Farkas and Worthy's research led them to believe that Superior Auto in Ohio built the motor home on a Cadillac chassis, but even experts at the Motor Home/RV Hall of Fame in Indiana cannot agree where or for how long the vehicles were built.
Hudson helped the couple decided to restore, rather than replace, the motor home's original engine. He showed off a plate on the side of the engine block marking this camper as number 449 of 600. So even if where it was built or by whom is debatable, what is not in dispute is that there were few to begin with and even fewer still around.
The couple have chosen to restore their camper as closely as possible to the original production, picking 1950s-style fabric and keeping the original fixtures. They were lucky to find much of camper's interior -- including the cabinets and countertops -- in serviceable condition.
Figgatt, Farkas and Worthy all agree that for people interested in vintage campers and restoration, there is something for everyone, no matter their budget or tastes. For the do-it-yourselfers, the possibilities are endless.
Reach Autumn D.F. Hopkins at autumn.hopk...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1249.