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19 Sep 2007

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CopyrightŪ 2004 American Clipper Owners Club. All rights reserved.



Irv Perch

Here is some background information on how the Clippers were built from the memory of Irv Perch, President/CEO of the American Clipper Corporation and the designer/man behind the product, written down by Mark Smith, ACOC #1077 in a recent conversation:

American Clipper of one of our members somewhere in Washington StateIrv Perch:
The first Clippers were for sale in 1974 and wore a green stripe, and they were fitted with sliding windows. Irv designed the windows used in our American Clippers and they have since been used by other RV manufacturers. They were first used on the 1975 models. In 1976 he added a black rubber seal around the windows. He knew that when it rains, you would be in your Clipper, so they were designed to give ventilation when it rains and keep the rain out. They provided a clear window at each end of the window frame to look out. They were also designed with rounded corners to eliminate a stress riser in the fiberglass from having a sharp corner. Before this, many trailers had the aluminum siding crack at the corners of the windows.

In 1976 Irv painted at least three clippers with red and blue stripes to go along with the bicentennial spirit of the year. This was done at the request of the buyers. The wide stripe was blue and the thin stripe was red. Irv also produced one Clipper with red, white and blue stripes. This Clipper was sold without anything inside. It was just a shell.

Besides building 25 special 24' American Clippers in 1980, he also built 24 trans van American Clippers named "Luxur Van". These Clippers had also a fiberglass body but it was very much unlike the class C version we know. They were about one foot higher than the van cab roof, and looked like an extended Dodge van with a door at the rear. They were low profile, but very plush and cozy. The walls were carpeted to match the floor. They included everything needed for kitchen, dining, and sleeping. A six foot tall person would have to go through them on his knees, for they were little higher inside than a van. Irv said he went to this version motorhome because of the gas shortage at the time. Larger motorhomes were considered gas guzzlers and were difficult to sell. The van style was more appealing to the public of that time.

There is one special model Clipper out there that you may see some day. I think it is in the San Bernardino area. It was built in 1980 on a Chevy chassis. This one was a full size American Clipper built as a delivery truck with a full size door at the rear that rolled up into the roof. It had no windows in the upper front or sides. Irv remarked that this was the most expensive Clipper he ever built because of its special design. It was last seen being used as a delivery truck by a carpet company.

Mark, ACOC# 1077 asked Irv Perch on 1/27/00 how Irv's current (2000)  trailer business is:

His age and health will not permit him to continue working as he has, so he has closed the shop, and has the business for sale. He said the shop is packed in portable trailers ready to go anywhere. He has developed some very promising products that should be big sellers in today's RV market. It should be noted that Irv has been elected to the 'RV Hall of Fame' for his lifetime dedication and contributions to the RV industry. 

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