Enthusiasts' camper van goes the extra mile

Chevrolet fans Lynda and Ian Gillespie with their 1952 Styleline camper van, created by Mr Gillespie on the chassis of a Chevrolet car almost 40 years ago. Photo by David Bruce.
Chevrolet fans Lynda and Ian Gillespie with their 1952 Styleline camper van, created by Mr Gillespie on the chassis of a Chevrolet car almost 40 years ago. Photo by David Bruce.
So impressive is Ian Gillespie's one-off camper van that people ask the Chevrolet fan if it is the genuine article.

Even the badges look like they have come out of an American General Motors plant, but the 1952 Chevrolet Styleline Deluxe camper van with the personalised plate ''Chevan'' was built by the Christchurch man in 1975 on a 1952 Chevrolet sedan body.

It was one of about 70 cars on display on Saturday at the Oamaru Showgrounds for the Oamerican Car Show and Shine County Fair, the conclusion to three days of events in Oamaru.

Ian and his wife, Lynda, were touring at Lake Ohau when they read on Saturday morning about the car show.

''Out came the hose and we came down to see if we could get in,'' Mr Gillespie said.

They did not know about the three-day show, the second to be held, but would

return next year for all the events and possibly bring their children, Matt and Tracy.

''I started the whole disease,'' Mr Gillespie joked as he outlined similar camper vans owned by his children.

Tracy, who had a CF Bedford campervan, had the front cut off and her father replaced it with a Chevrolet Silverado and Matt had a camper van similar to that of his parents built on a 1955 Chevrolet sedan platform

When it was built, the sedan chassis was stretched, prompting Mr Gillespie to add another 900mm to his just behind the cab. The result looked so good, that people believed it was a model produced by Chevrolet.

Mr Gillespie's example started with a 216cu in (3.5-litre) six-cylinder engine but now had a 265 (4.3 litre) V8, with lpg fuel, he said.

When he built it, he was working as a fitter at the Addington railway workshops, and was helped by its coach builders. Now, the family operated an auto services business in Christchurch that included ''muscle motorhomes'', along with general servicing to street hot rods and customs.