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Vintage Travel Trailers, Motor Homes and Truck Campers

Summer is almost upon us, and one of the favorite activities of many with a “wanderlust” is to hit the road on a camping trip, escape everyday life and enjoy the scenery and nature. has a large assortment of motorized camping photos, and that will be shared here in a few posts.

The lead photo is one of a number that has survived of yearly organized trips for well-to-do travelers and their Airstream trailers in various parts of the world. The tow vehicles all appear to be large American cars with the majority of them being Cadillacs. On this trip the lead car was a VW “Beetle” and the background was very mountainous indicating the caravan may have been in Northern Europe at the time.

1920s House Cars on Truck Chassis'

  • Three “house cars” as they were referred to at the time, two from Minnesota and one from the Dakotas and the travelers posed for this photo. The first and the third units appear to be professionally built.


  • The Bowlus “Road Chief” was first produced in 1934 by Hawley Bowlus, an aircraft designer, who constructed Charles Lindbergh’s “Spirit of St. Louis”. The “Road Chief” is being reproduced and sold again today.

Mystery Vintage Traveling Trailers 1

  • This attractive trailer that appears to be professionally built is by an unknown maker and is towed by what looks to be a postwar Pontiac.

Model T Ford Camper

  • This 1915 or ’16 Model “T” Ford has been fitted with an interesting camper attachment complete with a draw like slide-out section  serving as both a kitchen and table.

11 responses to “Vintage Travel Trailers, Motor Homes and Truck Campers

  1. I saw a “homemade” RV in Pioneer Village in Minden, Nebraska a few years ago. It was built by its owner in 1939 on top of a Ford chassis and looked like a house on wheels even down to the siding.

    • Pioneer Village is definitely worth a visit: plenty of old and enjoyable automotive and other mechanical stuff!

  2. Loved the pictures of the early RVs & caravans. The June 1957 issue of National Geographic has a (mostly) color spread on the 1956 Airstream Caravan trip through Europe. These tours were organized by Airstream inventor Wally Byam.
    All cars & trailers were shipped to Rotterdam , tuned-up and prepared for their journey. Not all were Caddys-Byam’s was a Coupe deVille but others were everything from Buick to Studebaker.
    A really fascinating pictorial……along with the rest of the magazine.
    Check it out.

  3. In the photo of the RV Caravan ( first photo ) the trailers look more like Avions rather than Air Streams. Although the setting does look European and the first tow car is a ’56.
    Where is the ‘Road Chief’ being reproduced ?

    • Roy, Thanks for bringing that up, I did notice the different pattern of the exterior panels on the roof and thought that the tour might have been for both brands?

      The “Road Chief” is being made in Canada.

      • Up until about 1957 Airstream used 13-panels to make up the end caps. Then as manufacturing technology improved, they switched to 7-panels as seen in the lead trailer (fewer seams=fewer leaks!). Those 13-panel trailers could be mistaken for Avions.

  4. I believe that the mystery trailer being towed by the 1942 Chevrolet Aero is a Aero Flite Falcon, manufactured at Van Nuys Airport north of Los Angeles in the immediate postwar period.

    I encountered one of these trailers at a vintage trailer show in Hemet, California in April and to say it was stunning would be an understatement. The one I viewed is owned by Dick and Shirley Thomas of Leander, Texas and Dick was involved in its restoration along with Robert Mills.

  5. As a point of interest a close look at the plate on the lead car in the caravan photo shows an Ohio plate number of 965 VR which is a Shelby county,Ohio plate.I live in Jackson Center,Ohio which is in Shelby County and is the hometown of the Airstream factory.Other towns in the county had similar plates like VN,VS,ect.In those days every town had their own local registrar for obtaining their annual plates and you could literally tel where someone lived by what the suffix was on their tag.

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