Shortly after Henry Ford made automobiles affordable for the common man, American ingenuity began to devise a new motor home known as the house car. This development was aided by one of the first major road projects instituted by President Woodrow Wilson. The Federal Roads Act was designed to improve rutted, mud filled treacherous roads that were all but impassable in the new automobile.
At almost the same time European travel was all but impossible due to the outbreak of World War One. However many wealthy Americans still yearned to travel and there were a number of industrious builders who were ready to provide the perfect vehicle to accommodate these would be autocampers. The early motor homes varied from Model T Fords equipped with canvas panels which when erected provided shelter to huge boxes mounted on truck frames that came to be know as house cars.
As much as Americans loved to travel there were always a large segment of the population that had no desire to rough it. These would be road warriors were determined to take as many of the comforts of home along as possible. Although these house cars and their modern counterpart, the RV, were built to provide the same service, and comfort while motoring, it would be the exceptional modern day traveler that would consider beginning a journey in an early model house car. Many of the early models were most likely produced by handy men and not manufacturing companies.
Although they possessed vision and an entrepreneurial spirit in their efforts, most of the early models were only boxes on truck frames and poorly constructed. One can only imagine the toll that would be taken on the traveler as he or she bounced over rutted roads with hard rubber tires while choking over dust and being entertained by the rattle and shake of their wooden motor home.
While the motor home pioneers most likely enjoyed the rather rough and crude amenities their vehicle provided one can only imagine what they would feel if they stepped inside a modern fully equipped RV. The top line models certainly would feel naked without a walkin shower, air conditioning, satellite radio, television and internet. The kitchen would include every convenience found in a five star restaurant. Hydraulic leveling jacks, tow bar, enough storage to hold supplies for a month or more.
Diesel generator of course. Captain seats, gps, automatic drive, power steering and other gadgets that would task the electric power supply of a medium apartment. All aluminum construction so well insulated that traffic noise and anything Mother Nature can throw at it would not be able to penetrate the interior. A ride so smooth that a drop of coffee would never venture from a forgotten cup left on a counter.
Without much doubt the pioneer house car owner of the twenties and thirties would be lost for words if they could only venture into one of these modern Mansions on Wheels. Ice chests, gas camping stoves and kerosene lanterns have given way to comforts that the modern traveler enjoy when they visit far away places enclosed in the luxury of the modern motor home.