• Sep 6th 2010 at 12:29PM
  • 12
100th Anniversary of the RV – Click above for historical high-res image gallery (69 images)

It seems appropriate while we celebrate the last vestiges of summer on this Labor Day weekend that we also acknowledge the 100th anniversary of the recreational vehicle, also known as the RV. The summer season and RVs go hand in hand, and people have motored across America in mobile homes since 1910. RV historians say that year was when just a few companies began building the precursors to what we now know as recreational vehicles, thus marking the birth of the RV industry. Those companies include Pierce-Arrow from New York (above, 1910 Touring Landau), the Los Angeles Trailer Works and Michigan's own Auto-Kamp Trailers of Saginaw.

2011 Sunseeker RVThe RV industry has survived wars, tough economic times and oil crises and still come out no worse for wear. Credit the American spirit of adventure, our love of travel or maybe just the unique freedom one experiences while traveling without a tether to your permanent residence.

If I'm waxing too poetic about what some consider to be just ill-constructed boxes of balsa wood on wheels, know that I am an RV owner myself (right, 2011 Forest River Sunseeker) and have known the joys of sitting around a campfire in the forest roasting s'mores one minute and playing Rock Band in an air-conditioned living room the next. It may sound like sacrilege to hard-core outdoorsmen who like sleeping on the ground, but it makes perfect sense to an RV enthusiast.

So, in honor of the RV's 100th birthday, we've assembled a gallery chronicling its history courtesy of the RV industry's centennial website. Enjoy the trip through time.


Touring Landau, 1910
  • Touring Landau, 1910
  • Touring Landau, 1910
  • Popular Mechanics ad for Pop-Up Camper, circa 1910
  • Popular Mechanics ad for Pop-Up Camper, circa 1910
  • Adams Motor Bungalo, 1917
  • Adams Motor Bungalo, 1917
  • Tampa, FL Campground
  • Tampa, FL Campground
  • Historic Campground
  • Historic Campground
  • Homemade Housecar, circa 1930s
  • Homemade Housecar, circa 1930s
  • Early Towable
  • Early Towable
  • Early trailer and Model T Ford, 1913
  • Early trailer and Model T Ford, 1913
  • Housecar, 1915
  • Housecar, 1915
  • Auto Camper
  • Auto Camper
  • Early Pop-Up Trailer
  • Early Pop-Up Trailer
  • Cozy Camper Tent Trailer, 1916
  • Cozy Camper Tent Trailer, 1916
  • Model T with Telescopes, 1916 (side view)
  • Model T with Telescopes, 1916 (side view)
  • Model T with Telescopes, 1916 (rear view)
  • Model T with Telescopes, 1916 (rear view)
  • Zaglemeyer Kampcar, circa 1920
  • Zaglemeyer Kampcar, circa 1920
  • Homemade RV, circa 1920
  • Homemade RV, circa 1920
  • Florida Campground, circa 1920
  • Florida Campground, circa 1920
  • Warner Prairie Schooner, circa mid-1920s
  • Warner Prairie Schooner, circa mid-1920s
  • Pierce Arrow Fleet Housecar, 1928
  • Pierce Arrow Fleet Housecar, 1928
  • Overland Park Trailer Camp, circa 1925
  • Overland Park Trailer Camp, circa 1925
  • Housecar, circa 1926
  • Housecar, circa 1926
  • Wiedman Camp Body on Stewart Truck Chassis, 1928
  • Wiedman Camp Body on Stewart Truck Chassis, 1928
  • Housecar, circa 1930s
  • Housecar, circa 1930s
  • Curtiss Aerocar, circa 1930
  • Curtiss Aerocar, circa 1930
  • Travel Trailer, circa 1930
  • Travel Trailer, circa 1930
  • Chevrolet Housecar owned by Mae West, 1931
  • Chevrolet Housecar owned by Mae West, 1931
  • Ford Housecar, 1931
  • Ford Housecar, 1931
  • Sportsman Trailer, 1932
  • Sportsman Trailer, 1932
  • Covered Wagon, circa 1932
  • Covered Wagon, circa 1932
  • Airstream, 1933
  • Airstream, 1933
  • Airstream, 1935
  • Airstream, 1935
  • Airstream Clipper, 1936
  • Airstream Clipper, 1936
  • Schult Sportsman, 1936
  • Schult Sportsman, 1936
  • Hunt Housecar, 1937
  • Hunt Housecar, 1937
  • Book Wagon, circa 1938
  • Book Wagon, circa 1938
  • Travel Trailer, circa late 1930s
  • Travel Trailer, circa late 1930s
  • Liberty Towable
  • Liberty Towable
  • Spartan prototype, 1945
  • Spartan prototype, 1945
  • Westcraft Towable, 1949 (exterior)
  • Westcraft Towable, 1949 (exterior)
  • Westcraft Towable, 1949 (interior)
  • Westcraft Towable, 1949 (interior)
  • Truck Camper, circa early 1950s
  • Truck Camper, circa early 1950s
  • Victour Housecar, 1951
  • Victour Housecar, 1951
  • Holiday Rambler, 1954
  • Holiday Rambler, 1954
  • Yellowstone travel trailer, 1954
  • Yellowstone travel trailer, 1954
  • Towable, circa 1957
  • Towable, circa 1957
  • Winnebago Fifth Wheel, 1958
  • Winnebago Fifth Wheel, 1958
  • Pop-up Camper, circa late 1950s
  • Pop-up Camper, circa late 1950s
  • Phoenix Yellowbird Tent Camper, 1961
  • Phoenix Yellowbird Tent Camper, 1961
  • Frank Motorhome, 1961
  • Frank Motorhome, 1961
  • Coachmen Cadet, 1964
  • Coachmen Cadet, 1964
  • Banner Motorhome, circa 1960
  • Banner Motorhome, circa 1960
  • Winnebago Motorhome, circa 1966
  • Winnebago Motorhome, circa 1966
  • Corvair Ultravan, circa 1960
  • Corvair Ultravan, circa 1960
  • Ford Based Chassis Mount Motorhome, 1969
  • Ford Based Chassis Mount Motorhome, 1969
  • Lo-Liner Aristocrat, circa 1960s
  • Lo-Liner Aristocrat, circa 1960s
  • GMC Motorhome, circa 1973 - 1978
  • GMC Motorhome, circa 1973 - 1978
  • Winnebago Winnie Wagon, 1974
  • Winnebago Winnie Wagon, 1974
  • Boles Aero Fifth Wheel, circa 1970
  • Boles Aero Fifth Wheel, circa 1970
  • Bluebird Wanderlodge, 1970
  • Bluebird Wanderlodge, 1970
  • GMC Motorhome, circa 1973 - 1978
  • GMC Motorhome, circa 1973 - 1978
  • Type C Motorhome, circa 1970
  • Type C Motorhome, circa 1970
  • Newell motorhome, 1978
  • Newell motorhome, 1978
  • Winnebago Itasca, 1982
  • Winnebago Itasca, 1982
  • Vixen Motorhome, 1982
  • Vixen Motorhome, 1982
  • Type C Motorhome, circa 1990s
  • Type C Motorhome, circa 1990s
  • Motorhome, circa 1990
  • Motorhome, circa 1990
  • Travel Trailer, circa 1990
  • Travel Trailer, circa 1990
  • Type A Motorhome, circa late 1990s
  • Type A Motorhome, circa late 1990s
  • 2011 Forest River Sunseeker
  • 2011 Forest River Sunseeker


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 12 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      How in Gods blazes in the 100 years of RV/Campers could you not include the VW Microbus/Kombi/Westfalia? The GMC Barbiemobile I could understand but not the Kombi?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Its amazing how far technology(in every way) has progressed in the past 100 years.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Got rid of our 34' quad bunk house trailer 1 1/2 years ago and our family still misses it!

      Great times even in very bad weather with all of the amenities to keep us comfortable and if you got tired of the view, the heat or the cold, latched up the Hensley hitch and away we went.

      Great family time (away from msn/facebook) with great family memories and to this day, we never turn down a campfire invitation!

      • 5 Years Ago
      Good job Neff - I'm glad you haven't tried making a 'it makes financial sense' argument out of your purchase (supercars don't either, we're talking about purchasing products created for the sake of -pleasure/leisure-), too many people these days try to rationalize the unrationable, even myself.

      I wonder how our Fleetwood '92's faring right now, it's been sitting for three years.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Hey John that is a beautiful RV you got there!

      I feel similar, growing up my parents bought an 84 Econoline Tray Teck Conversion Van with a 5.0L V8... it was great it had carpeted ceiling and a table in between the captain seats and rear bench, and you could turn the captain seats around. It had a built in chess board (magnetic) and a card table if you flipped it over. We then traded that in for a 94 Econoline 150 Centaurus with a 351 Windsor which had much more power and a lot more features like a TV and rear AC controls and rear radio and such... my dad did the cash for clunkers sadly...

      here are a few pics of it before it was taken away... still in perfect condition and only 101,000 miles!!! All the wood in there was real too and it even had a build in radar detector

      http://i111.photobucket.com/albums/n127/xMasterKatarnx/P9200075.jpg
      http://i111.photobucket.com/albums/n127/xMasterKatarnx/P9200078.jpg
      http://i111.photobucket.com/albums/n127/xMasterKatarnx/P9200069.jpg
      http://i111.photobucket.com/albums/n127/xMasterKatarnx/P9200071.jpg
      http://i111.photobucket.com/albums/n127/xMasterKatarnx/P9200076.jpg
      • 5 Years Ago
      We bought a Quicksilver 10.0 pop-up this summer to tow behind our Mazda5, and it's just the best thing ever. I absolutely love it. Some day I want a restored 1972 Winnebago Brave. They're so mean looking!
      • 5 Years Ago
      It would be great to save 3-4 weeks of vacation, rent one of these bad boys and drive across the country.
      • 5 Years Ago
      John - you seem way too young to have an RV but good for you. Maybe you can rent it to automotive journalists visiting Autoblog World HQ!
      • 5 Years Ago
      I like the recent models that allow hauling motorcycles on the inside, and still has sleeping and galley areas. Good for bringing the fun toys and keep the g/f happy.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Happy Anniversary RV. All the best for the next 100 years.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Hopefully there will be.
      • 5 Years Ago
      We can assume you are speaking of the newer ones and not the 1910 version?
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