This place has been a bucket list item of mine (added when I first dipped my toe into this RV lifestyle, obviously) and I finally made the check mark! And I’m OH SO GLAD I did! 😀
This museum has RV’s on display from the 20’s and 30’s which I find to be incredible! You are even allowed to walk inside them… (I wasn’t sure which part was more unbelievable – the fact that they have RV’s that old or that you could actually walk around inside of them…)
The RV Founders Hall presents the RV’s in chronological order from before WW1 to present day. However, when you first walk in you see Airstream Drive to the right dating back to 1958 – which I was completely okay with! 😀
Then it takes you on ride back in time. You get to see the progression of these trailers and motorhomes through the years. I kept wondering if Grandpa had seen some of these on the road growing up.
By the time I was finished going through this time capsule, I realized I forgot to take photos like I wanted to. I got so carried away with this glimpse of history that photos didn’t even cross my mind. I did go back through to capture a few of them that stuck out to me.
But, first thing’s first… the Airstream! ( I know I’m biased – but this is my blog and I can do what I want 😉 )
1958 Airstream Flying Cloud
This 1958 beauty was built in California. It was equipped with a gas heater, refrigerator, a cooking stove, a pressurized water system and a 110 volt electrical system! 1958 was also the first full year Airstream implemented a significant body change, going from 13 to 7 panels on the end shells. This particular vintage trailer is widely sought-after for restorations because of it’s floorplan… apparently. 😉
1913 “Earl” Travel Trailer and Model T Ford
“Earl” is the oldest travel trailer in the world – custom made for a Cal Tech professor by a Los Angeles carriage maker. The trailer was restored in 1980, the Model T was restored in 1990. This was the last year for choice of colors on the Model T. Following this year, they were produced only in black. This blue and black paint scheme is authentic. The trailer has a dining table that seats four, then converts into a double bed. The khaki colored upholstery is the original style. Storage is provided under both benches and in two cabinets on either side of the rear doors. Could you imagine having just that much storage?! Good god!!!!
1916 Telescoping Apartment (on a 1915 Ford Model T)
MADE IN SAN FRANSISCO – SOLD FOR $100! These “Telescoping Apartments” were built on the west coast as aftermarket camping accessories for early trucks ( the original truck camper 😉 ) To travel, both side-cabinets slide in and the rear section then “telescopes” into the main compartment and is secure for travel. Warm water for the shower is produced by the radiator heat from the engine.
1928 Pierce Arrow Fleet Housecar
One of only 3 housecars built by the Pierce Arrow Company of Buffalo, New York, before the crash of 1929 ended their manufacture of luxury housecars. These were considered very high end. 😉
1929 Wiedman Housecar
These camper bodies (which were made in upstate New York) were available as either accessories (shipped directly to you for installation) or mounted on by the factory on a chassis of the buyers choice.
1937 Hunt Housecar
This was one of the several vehicles built in the 1930’s by Hollywood movie cinematographer and producer Roy Hunt. This unit, designated “The Star” because of it’s hood ornament, has an identical sister vehicle “The Turtle” in another collection in a California museum, which differs only in it’s hood emblem.
1954 Spartan Imperial Mansion
This sucker was 42 feet long (longer than our 2019 Momentum)!! The Spartan Aircraft Company built these homes in Tulsa, Oklahoma beginning after the end of WWII to utilize the surplus production capacity that had been built up to meet wartime airplane demands. They were recognized as the finest mobile homes available in the late 40’s and early 50’s. The exterior is all aluminum, assembled using “aircraft technology” – aluminum wall studs and roof rafters. The wrap around front window was a Spartan trademark.
1954 Yellowstone Travel Trailer
This was one of the higher end travel trails made in the early 1950’s. The kitchen range and refrigerator are residential apartment style units.
1966 Mustang Travel Trailer
This was built before Ford Motor Company started using the name. Bathing and toilet facilities were rarely included in “camper” trailers before this time but this one had a wet bath, toilet and a sink! She fancy! 😛
1973 Airstream Excella 500 – My “Sweet Caroline”
I told you this was my blog and I could do what I want! 😉 Somewhere in between these other two RV’s, my sweet girl was made! She was the first year Airstream put both a gray and a black tank into these trailers. She is 31′ long and had a rear bath (which now will be replaced with our bedroom – she will be a mid-bath Airstream from now on). She will be a classic on the outside and modern on the inside. She will not live in a museum with her peers… she will travel the roads like she did in her heyday! 😀
1985 Fleetwood Bounder
This is the final working prototype for the Bounder Motor Home that was released in 1987. It was the first motorhome to have basement storage in the Class A motorhomes.
1988 Star Streak II
Built in 1988 using a 1976 Cadillac Eldorado Chassis and a 1976 Olds Toronado 455 cu. engine (for those who care). It was designed and specifically built to fit in a standard residential garage door. I don’t believe many were made or that it went into production. I could be wrong….