To be clear, motorhomes weren’t really a thing in 1914. Hell, cars were barely a thing in 1914. Be that as it may, this 1914 Ford Model T Motor Caravan exists, and it is the oldest one known to exist. More than it being the oldest RV, it’s also one of the craziest ones we’ve ever seen.
What is the oldest RV in the world?
This: The 1914 Ford Model T Motor Caravan – at least, it’s the oldest surviving motorhome. Silodrome notes that while it’s hard to say who built the first motorhome, the first production RV was almost certainly the Touring Landau, made by Pierce-Arrow in 1910.
The Touring Landau existed in a time before the interstate and before most roads were paved in America. This means a cross-country trip would nearly require a motorhome. While RVs quickly attracted many customers, between WWI, the Great Depression, and then WWII, the industry didn’t get a chance to get off the ground until the early 1950s when Winnebago hit the scene.
What is going on with this Model T motorhome?
According to Silodrome, this historical treat got commissioned by a wealthy English family just before the beginning of the first World War. While the Motor Caravan was built on the Ford Model T chassis, it isn’t exactly a standard production vehicle. The family needed the chassis longer and stronger to accommodate the length and weight of the motorhome. Baico was tapped to do the frame and chassis work while its aforementioned caravan body was designed and built by Dunton.
If the body reminds you of an old-timey train car, it isn’t just you. Although it’s a bit smaller than a standard rail car, it is completely made of wood and very much styled similarly.
Today, luxury cars will be described as “more comfortable than a living room,” well, this here is an actual living room. Hell, the driver’s seat is a literal Chesterfield leather sofa. What’s really wild is that the sofa can spin 180 degrees to face the rest of the cabin.
Speaking of the rest of the cabin, the oldest motorhome in the world didn’t worry about space-saving, weight, or anything like that. This thing has full-blown house furniture; wooden bookshelves, a wardrobe, bunk beds, a wood-burning stove, and rafters in the ceiling. This motorhome is insane.
Where was the early Ford Model T motorhome found?
According to Silodrome, the early life of this prehistoric (excuse my taking of liberties with the definition of this term) motorhome is largely lost. Still, we know it was rediscovered in the 1970s by Leo Smith, who restored it alongside his friend (and talented cabinetmaker) Robin Tanner.
What’s really wild about this piece is that it is not very expensive. Yes, the oldest known motorhome heads to auction with Bonhams on September 10thwho estimates a $20,000-$35,000 value. This is the oldest example of a monumental automotive category, and its price is reasonable. If you want to own a significant piece of automotive history, maybe the Motor Caravan will be your next summer vacation mobile.