A history of the Hunter Compact line of camper trailers
1973 Hunter Compact II
Hunter fiberglass camper trailers were manufactured in California from 1971 until 1974. The Compact Jr. was produced primarily in 1971 and 1972 and the Compact II was manufactured mainly in 1973. The Hunter I was offered for the 1974 model year. By the time Hunter closed its shop in the summer of 1975, an estimated 2000 units had been sold, enough to make a name for itself but too few to establish a well-known history.
In the beginning, the Compact Jr. was not made by Hunter. It was manufactured by Compact Trailers, Inc. located in Buena Park, California under the direction of Lawrence Lynwood “Bud” Jellerson. The company was incorporated December 11, 1969, by Bud Jellerson, Hyman Weiner, Eugene Russell, and Wilfred Morris Roof.
Jellerson, Weiner, and Roof were in the automobile dealership business. By the end of 1971, Compact Trailers had sold more than 600 units and was advertising “choice franchises” to sell their popular trailer which listed for $1,495.
Before it produced the Compact Jr., Compact Trailers, Inc. had a working relationship with a company named Trails West. Trails West was located in Clackamas, Oregon, and in 1969 it was manufacturing a unit called the Campster. In 1970, Compact Trailers displayed the Oregon-made Campster at California trade shows, and even supplied a Campster model for a popular magazine to review and test. The two trailers are similar in appearance, and advertising used for the Campster was later adapted for selling the Compact Jr.
Advertising flyers for Campster and Compact Jr.
It wasn’t long before Jellerson moved production of the Compact Jr. from Buena Park, California to its new home in Chatsworth, California. Advertising and vehicle identification plates identified the manufacturer as Hunter Structures, Inc.
The Compact Jr. was advertised for sale by dealerships all over the country, including Florida, Minnesota, Kansas, Texas, and Utah.
A New Model
In late 1972, the company introduced “the all new version of Compact Jr,” the Hunter Compact II. It was formed from a new fiberglass mold and advertised to dealers for sale in the 1973 model year.
RV Dealer magazine, October and November 1972
The Compact II sold well and was featured in several popular camping magazines.
John Coffield of C & G Fiberglass Products, Inc. apparently performed work for Hunter. His business card is glassed into both the top and bottom molds of this 1973 Compact II.
As previously noted, the manufacturer of Compact Jr. was initially Compact Trailers, Inc. and then Hunter Structures, Inc. The plate on this Compact II, however, indicates the manufacturer is Hunter Industries, Inc.
Hunter Structures and Hunter Industries operated simultaneously and used the same address, 9525 De Soto Avenue, Chatsworth, California. Local classified advertising seeking employees and sales representatives sometimes identified Hunter Industries and other times Hunter Structures.
A New Start
For the 1974 model year, Hunter dropped the “Compact” name and called its new model, the “Hunter I.” The exterior was the same as the Compact II because it used the same fiberglass mold. But the Hunter I was equipped with a larger bed, made possible by eliminating the front dinette cushion and some storage space.
All three models, the Compact Jr., the Hunter Compact II, and the Hunter I could be purchased toward the end of 1973. The Hunter I is most rare.
The Hunter Compact line of camper trailers were always marketed as the camping solution for owners of “economy cars.” Consumer interest in fuel economy probably helped Hunter’s sales and fuel shortages likely forced it out of business. Hunter was one of many RV manufacturers that did not survive after the shortages in petroleum imports America experienced in 1974. The Recreational Vehicle Dealers’ Association reported that an estimated 200 manufacturers closed their businesses due to the Energy Crisis. Hunter Industries’ inventory was sold at auction on August 12, 1975.