Due to the wonders of modern technology, today’s motor homes are the best they’ve ever been. A quality motor home is safe, convenient, and has all the comforts you could ever need. However, it wasn’t always like this. The motor homes of yesteryear were quite different from what you may be used to, and it can be fun – and educational – to take a look back at how motor home technology has changed over the years.
Before Motor Homes
Perhaps unsurprisingly, motor homes share a common history with other motorized vehicles, such as cars and trucks. The very roots of motor homes can be found in the times before combustible engines, when people travelled by horse-drawn caravans. This was before air conditioning, pull-out beds, and potable water tanks. While the buggies of old are far removed from today’s luxury motor homes, you can draw one major similarity: the old wagons provided a safe home for people making long journeys. Sound familiar?
The First Motor Homes
It’s a little difficult to declare the first motor home, as that term didn’t really catch on until the mid-20th century, but the vehicle that many point to as the first modern ancestor was the Pierce-Arrow Touring Landau. The Touring Landau, which was first shown at Madison Square Garden in 1910, didn’t look like what you would consider a modern motor home: it was small, a little cramped, and in all honesty, nearly indistinguishable from the other vehicles of that era.
However, there were some important differences that set it apart from the Model T. It had a chamber pot toilet, pressurized sink, and fold-down bed, marketed specifically for the traveler. While the Touring Landau was clearly a vehicle of its time with some added amenities built in, it sowed the seeds for today’s motor homes.
Motor Homes Hit Their Stride
The early 20th century was a tough time for motor homes. First, there was the Great Depression, and then there were two World Wars. People simply didn’t have the time or the money for any motor home fun. But during the post-war boom of the 1950s, motor homes faced a reversal of fortune. People now had disposable income and time to vacation with their families.
Winnebago launched in 1958 and within 10 years they were mass producing motor homes that were much more affordable. The motor home company helped pitch their motor homes by selling the idea of “Thermo-Panel” walls, which kept heat inside the home. So, instead of setting up a tent outside, motor home families were encouraged to make their camp indoors, which was an important distinction. Other manufacturers of the time, such as Travco, pushed other innovations, such as the use of fiberglass in motor homes.
Massive Technological Advancements
Since the boom of the mid-1900s, motor home manufacturers have slowly and steadily introduced new technologies to their products, in line with technological advancements in other industries. With the invention of radio and television came sound systems and TVs in motor homes, and so on and so forth.
But these new technologies aren’t just for interior comforts. Throughout the years, engineers have pioneered new aerodynamic designs that make motor homes easier to drive and safer on the roads. And with the rise of computers and the internet in the past few decades, we’re seeing some exciting new applications, including the ability to wirelessly control some features via smartphone.
It’s been a long road from the horse-drawn buggies and Touring Landaus of the past. While today’s motor homes are a far cry from their ancestors, understanding their history allows for a greater appreciation of how good we have it now. Be glad for the technologies we have, but also be excited for the new ones to come.