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Through the Years – History of Campers and RVs Explained with Photos

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Through the Years – History of Campers and RVs Explained with Photos

The origin of the first official camper or RV in America is unknown but the general concept of a home-on-wheels came from as early as the 1800’s with covered chuck wagons. This covered wagon was used as the pioneers traveled to the West and settled in the newly formed states of the west. As soon as the automobile became mass produced, you began to see a concept similar to the chuck wagon being towed behind these vehicles.

1910’s

The first manufactured motor homes began being produced by many places including Los Angeles Trailer Works and Auto-Kamp Trailers.

1913 Earl Travel Trailer - Carsforsale.com
1913 Earl Travel Trailer - Carsforsale.com

1919

“Tin Can Tourist Club” was formed. This was the first RV club in America and brought camping to new popularity.

1920’s

The Great Depression forced many Americans to become nomadic, often living out of their vehicles. This was more of a necessity based on the financial crisis of the era, rather than for recreation.

1930’s -1950’s

The popularity of motor homes and RV’s slowly grew in popularity over this time. Many American’s began to customize their own creation as well as build-you-own kits. Many of the large manufacturers that we know of today in the camper/RV industry today ban production around this period.

The explosion in popularity didn’t come until after World War II. With the baby boom, families wanted mobility and flexibility to travel and the RV and motorhomes offered just that.

1960’s

Conversion vans and busses begin to be very popular along with the manufactured models. Winnebago begins production in 1967. The 1962 John Steinbeck novel Travels with Charley brings a lot of popularity to the camper world when this story of a camper, named Rocinante, traveling the country in search of adventure.

1960 GMC Camper/Bus - Carsforsale.com

1960 GMC Camper/Bus – Carsforsale.com  |  Shop GMC on Carsforsale.com

1964 Dodge Travco - Carsforsale.com

1964 Dodge Travco – Carsforsale.com  |  Shop Dodge on Carsforsale.com

1970’s

The iconic Airstream models continue to be very popular as well as the conversion vans. There are many different sytles and varies that begin to pop up during this time period.

1971 Airstream Overlander Land Yacht - Carsforsale.com
1971 Airstream Overlander Land Yacht - Carsforsale.com
1973 Volkswagen Vanagon Westphalia - Carsforsale.comWe

1974 Volkswagen Vanagon Westphalia – Carsforsale.com  |  Shop Volkswagen Vanagon on Carsforsale.com

1978 Winnebago Brave - Carsforsale.com

1978 Winnebago Brave – Carsforsale.com  |  Shop Winnebago on Carsforsale.com

1980’s

This is the golden years of the camper where they begin to be extremely affordable to the average consumer.

1985 Suncrest 30' Motorhome 2WD - Carsforsale.com
1985 Suncrest 30' Motorhome 2WD - Carsforsale.com
1988 Ford Travel Master Travel - Carsforsale.com
1988 Ford Travel Master Travel - Carsforsale.com

1990’s

You begin to see a lot of very large motorhomes and RVs. Many of these are now resembling large transport trucks. Designs of these campers and RV’s now allow for all the comforts of home with full kitchens, bathrooms with shower and multiple sleeping areas for the growing families.

1993 Holiday Rambler HR1000 - Carsforsale.com

1993 Holiday Rambler HR1000 – Carsforsale.com  |  Shop Holiday on Carsforsale.com

1997 Fleetwood Bounder - Carsforsale.com

1997 Fleetwood Bounder – Carsforsale.com  |  Shop Fleetwood on Carsforsale.com

1998 Ford Pinnacle 2WD - Carsforsale.com

1998 Ford Pinnacle 2WD – Carsforsale.com  |  Shop Ford Motorhome Chassis on Carsforsale.com

2000’s

The race to be the biggest and best camper is in full force with manufacturers. The idea of the pop-up trailers are now included into the design of RV’s, and the walls now expand for more room. The number of campgrounds in America surges and so do the numbers in campers and RV’s that are on the road.

2004 Georgie Boy M-3525 - Carsforsale.com

2004 Georgie Boy M-3525  – Carsforsale.com  |  Shop Georgie Boy on Carsforsale.com

2007 Thor Industries Vortex 2850 - Carsforsale.com

2007 Thor Industries Vortex 2850  – Carsforsale.com  |  Shop Thor Industries on Carsforsale.com

2010’s

The race to have the biggest camper or RV is now over with the rising price of fuel prices keeping consumers away from the larger models. There is a great rise in popularity for trailer campers rather that the drivable RV’s. People are looking for a use for that Ford F-150 truck and a trailer camper fits that, rather than a RV that you only drive when you are camping. There are also a rise in popularity of the ultra-small trailer. These roughly 10 foot long campers have all the comforts of the larger campers but do not require the large trucks to pull them.

2012 Renegade 2900AM - Carsforsale.com
2012 Renegade 2900AM - Carsforsale.com
2014 Little Guy Silver Shadow 5x10 - Carsforsale.com

2014 Little Guy Silver Shadow 5×10  – Carsforsale.com  |  Shop Little Guy on Carsforsale.com

2015 Excel Limited L36SDM - Carsforsale.com
2015 Excel Limited L36SDM - Carsforsale.com

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Caroline Rex

She's a graphic designer by trade, but loves writing blog posts on the side. As a closet car fanatic, Caroline enjoy sprinkling knowledge about the unique ins and outs of the underdogs of the auto world. #neonsruletheworld

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