1. Modern RV Industry Began in 1910
In the early years of the 20th century, Americans became accustomed to owning cars and traveling around the United States by automobile. The modern RV industry began in 1910 when car maker Pierce-Arrow unveiled the Touring Landau at Madison Square Garden in New York. The vehicle, widely considered by historians as the first motorhome, features a backseat that unfolds into a bed, a sink behind the chauffeur and, remarkably, a chamber pot.
2. First RVers Club
The first RV enthusiast’s club, the Tin Can Tourists was organized at Desoto Park, Tampa, Florida, in 1919, and still exists today. The group known for the soldered tin can on their radiator caps grew rapidly during the ’20s and ’30s.
The group’s stated objective was “To Unite Fraternally All Auto Campers”. Their guiding principles were “clean camps, friendliness among campers, decent behavior, and to secure plenty of clean, wholesome entertainment for those in the camps.”
Members could be inducted by fellow campers through an initiation process that taught the prospective member the secret handshake, sign, and password. After singing the official song “The More We Get Together” the trailerite was an official member of the Tin Can Tourists of the World.
Summer reunions were held at various Midwest locations, with Traverse City, Michigan serving as a primary host city. The club spent winters at Desoto Park until 1924 when they moved the Winter Convention to Arcadia.
3. First Travel Trailers
Built by Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis Superintendent of Construction, Harley Bowlus, the Road Chief had much of the same construction methods of airplanes of the early part of the 20th century when it first debuted in 1934. However, it took Wally Byam to take control of Bowlus’ struggling company, and in 1936 rename the Road Chief the Airstream Clipper, which ultimately put Byam’s Airstream on the map for generations to come.
A lawyer by training, Byam began building trailers out of Masonite in his backyard in Los Angeles during the late ’20s. Byam published a magazine selling “how-to” kits to customers wishing to build their own trailers.
Byam’s 1936 Airstream Clipper was essentially a rebadged 1935 Bowlus with the door relocated from the front to the side. The design cut down on wind resistance and thus improved efficiency. The Clipper slept four, carried its own water supply, was fitted with electric lights, and cost $1,200.
Of more than 400 travel trailer builders operating in 1936, Airstream was the sole survivor of the Great Depression. Part of American culture that transcends time, Airstream, manufacturer of the iconic “silver bullet” travel trailer, is the oldest and most recognized recreational vehicle manufacturer in North America.
4. First Truck Campers
Pickup campers were first created by Walter King in 1945 when he began manufacture of the Sport King camper in Torrance, California. King loved to hunt and fish and came up with the idea while pursuing these hobbies with his buddies.
King was the first to use foam insulation, wallpaper, Formica, and mini-blinds. These materials made his home-away-from-home campers both lightweight, and pleasing to the eye. The lighter weight made them easier to carry on the truck bed, allowing for better braking ability and better gas mileage. He understood that people wanted their recreational vehicles to be comfortable as well as practical.
Though King Manufacturing, Inc., he expanded his product line in the early ’50s by offering small travel trailers and in the ’70s with motorhomes. The cab-over camper remained one of its most popular products until 1987 when the company officially shut down operations.
5. World’s Most Expensive RV Sold For $3 Million
The futuristic Marchi Mobile eleMMent, dubbed the most expensive motorhome in the world, recently sold in sunny Dubai for a staggering $3 million. The eleMMent Palazzo is made by an Austrian company called Marchi Mobile.
The opulent slightly bizarre Palazzo features two floors of entertainment and extravagance, with a giant master suite, multiple bars, and a liftable “flybridge” lounge up top. It also features a pop-up cocktail lounge, a living room complete with a fireplace and a ginormous 40-inch TV set, and a master bedroom with an ensuite bathroom. Another appealing feature is it can even clean itself after a dusty day of motoring through the desert.
The ultra-luxury RV can reach 93 mph despite its 44,000-pound (22-ton) weight.
If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.