Thursday, October 20, 2016

RV/Motor Home Museum/Hall of Fame

Vicki and I have owned recreational vehicles of one sort or another since 1970. Before that we traveled and camped in tents. (And we have done some time tenting since then too). Two VW campers, 3 class Bs, 2 class Cs, a big truck camper, a pop-up truck camper, and a tear-drop trailer. We've also rented a few in travels abroad. So it was natural for us to put Elkhart's RV/Motorhome Museum and Hall of Fame on our agenda for driving through the Great Lakes area. The Museum is by no means comprehensive--like any museum, it depends largely on donations to its collection--but the collection is no less impressive. We were most impressed with the older parts of the collection, before RVs and motorhomes became an "industry" (about 400,000 new units will be sold this year), and my post here will focus on those older, sometimes trail-blazing or otherwise historic rigs. Our first rig was a 1968 Dodge class B, very basic, and at the museum we didn't look at anything much younger than that.
This is just the entry hall, temporary exhibits, gift shoppe, etc;
behind it are some thousands of square feet of the permanent
collection, with the hall of fame, library, meeting rooms, and
auditorium elsewhere in the building

A smidgeon of the permanent collection

One of the older rigs, a 1913 Earl trailer towed by a Model T


1958 22' Airstream, mid-evolution of the classic trailer

The Tennessee Traveler--1931 Model AA "Housecar"

Found in an Alabama barn in 1999 and beautifully restored

Cab view,  pretty Spartan

Just one specimen of the period decor found in all
these vehicles, some of it more interesting than
the vehicles themselves

1955 Ranger "Crank-Up" Tent Trailer

Best in show, we thought: the 1937 Hunt Housecar, built for
Hollywood producer Roy Hunt; but then we like Art Deco

Interior of the Hunt Housecar


Dorsal view; note boat-tail

1939 Lindbergh Travel Trailer--custom-built for the famous/
infamous aviator/fascist scoundrel

1935 Bowlus Road Chief; design bought by Airstream in 1936;
and the rest is history (except the boat-tail)

1931 Mae West Housecar; Paramount Studios had this built
to entice the vaudeville star into the talkies; she mostly rode
in it from house or hotel to studio or location

Ugliest in show, the 1988 Star Streak II; based on a Cadillac
Eldorado with an Oldsmobile Toronado engine; but it would
fit in your garage; built in Coral Park, FL, Carole

1928 Pierce Arrow Fleet Housecar

1929 Covered Wagon, first production travel trailer in the US

Early plumbing fixture; some of our smaller
rigs were not much more advanced

1933 Ford Kamp Kar 

One wing of the 2nd floor Hall of Fame ("Industry" Hall of Fame)

In the library/research center

Many interesting representations in the museum; here, the
Airstream Ranch, near Tampa, FL

1970s RV owners; if history is cyclical, I ask, why haven't leisure
suits come back?

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