Who built the first RV?

Who made what? Who made who?

In the early 1900s, the first “recreational vehicles” versions began to appear and were custom built. By “recreational vehicle,” we mean a car with a simple wooden trailer attached to the back. Not really what we think of when we hear the word “RV,” right? Well, we had to start somewhere! Until the first “RVs” came out, automobile lovers began to expand on these “homes on wheels” ideas and improve them. One of the first, most popular RVs was the “Pierce-Arrow Touring Landau.”


Shortly after RVs began to appear, the first “motorhome” arrived on the scene. In 1910, the first “motorhome,” made from a Packard truck weighing approximately three tons, made its debut. The vehicle was twenty-eight feet long, six and a half feet wide, and could sleep around eleven people, which was impressive considering how early it was made! It also boasted a start of art ice box, a toilet, and a “salon,” making it the very first bonafide “motorhome.”

As camping became more popular throughout the next decade (1911-1920), so did RVs. More and more people began adapting their cars and trucks to their lifestyle, mostly wood, and tents. Most of these automobiles had refrigerators, kitchenettes, showers, baths, and other typical features we’d expect to see on modern RVs. Some were even equipped with telegraphs and electric lights! Considering the people who came up with these designs were primarily not mechanics or engineers, these advancements were ingenious and just improving.


One of the most impressive vehicles of this time was “The Gypsy Van,” which boasted two remarkable stories, weighed eight tons, and had an interior like an English manor house. Then, in 1917, the first Fifth Wheel camping trailer was invented, which changed the RV game. Throughout the 1920s, custom RVs just kept coming and were often built on the most popular car, which was none other than the Ford model. Eventually known as the “Ford House Car.”