Big Rick Stuart
Vintage campers and trailers: How “bread loaves,” “tin cans,” and “teardrops” shaped leisure travel
Great photos and info in this Hemmings story
The next time you go to a big swap meet, look around at the vehicles that vendors bring to the show— chances are you'll see more than a few vintage campers and trailers. It's a growing part of the old-car hobby. Most vendors are old-car people (I count myself among their ranks) and many have decided that, since they need some sort of a camper/trailer to haul their stuff, as well as to sleep in overnight, they might as well make it a vintage camper. It's a lot more fun that way.Of course, lots of people just prefer to go camping in a vintage camper rather than a modern one. There are several clubs devoted to vintage camping.
As far as history, it's doubtful anyone can pinpoint exactly when the first camper was introduced, though people have tried. Some claim the first camper was built in 1904 by a horseless carriage company and was specifically designed to be pulled by a Ford Model T. That's a little hard to believe, since the Model T didn't come out until 1908.
Other people point to the 1910 Pierce-Arrow Touring Landau "camper car" that debuted at Madison Square Garden. The Landau boasted a fold-down rear roof section so passengers could enjoy fresh air while touring. It was factory equipped with a back seat that folded into a bed, a chamber pot toilet, and a sink that folded down from the back of the driver's seat. The driver was connected to his passengers via telephone!
It was a handy vehicle to have in the days when "motor hotels" were rare.
stock Wix photo