What is a “house car”?

There is no formal definition of a house car but in the early 1900’s, Americans want to take to the roads and explore. Some creative Tin Can Tourists decided that they’d rather bring their home with them rather than have the tent attachments on the sides of their Model T’s, so they built larger structures that resembled houses onto the frames and off they went. It really is the earliest example of what we commonly call a Motorhome. Here are some examples:

2008 Tin Can Tourist 11th Annual Spring Gathering – the 1925 GM House Car on it’s way home. This was the first event it attended after being restored. The restoration was completed two days before the rally and the TCT was excited to be the destination of it’s maiden voyage.



1909 motor home

Once the car was a familiar sight on the American roads, it did not take long for someone to create a motorhome. This photograph of a happy family in their home on wheels was published in 1909.

Source: Motor Magazine, 1909

1915 Lamsteed Kampkar

1915 Lamsteed Kampkar – an early recreational vehicle manufactured by Anheuser-Busch. The vehicles were mounted on a Model T Ford chassis and sold for $535. This example is owned by Peter Kable in Australia.

Photo: Model T Ford Club of America (MTFCA)

1915 Conklin 'gypsy van'

Roland and Mary Conklin of Huntington, N.Y., made house-car travel a family experience. Their bus factory built the Gypsy Van, shown above, and in the summer of 1915, the Conklin family set out to see America.

Photo & caption courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution,
the Huntington Historical Society (New York),
and Home on the Road: The Motor Home in America,
a book by Roger White

1920 Ford Model TT motorhome

A cottage on wheels, this 1920 Ford Model TT motorhome conversion has a sunroom and a back porch.

Photo courtesy Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village

1921 Ford Model T camper

1921 Ford Model T camper conversion.

Photo courtesy Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village

1921 Ford mobile chapel

1921 Ford Model T converted to a mobile chapel – a motorhome of God, so to speak.

Photo courtesy Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village

1922 Ford motorhome

A 1922 family photo with a Ford Model TT that was converted to a motorhome by the owner, Carl Headlee.

Thanks to Gloria Taylor and BrainardDispatch.com (Minnesota, USA)

Josephine - Rolls-Royce motorhome

Josephine – a vintage Rolls-Royce home on wheels in Northern Scotland.

Picture courtesy of the Rolls-Royce Bulletin, Jan 1956
and DITTO’s Rolls-Royce Pages

1928 Nomad house-car

1928 Nomad house-car on display at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

Photo courtesy Mary & David’s RV Adventures

pre-1930's Ford house car with expanding sections

A a late 1920’s Ford truck provides the base for this innovative two-story expanding housecar.

Source: Ford Treasury of Station Wagon Living, Volume 2
a book compiled by Franklin Reck & William Moss

1931 Ford Traveller 1931 Ford Traveller

1931 Ford Model A Traveler was an early camper derived from the Ford Natural Wood Panel Special Delivery, similar to their successful station wagon.

Thanks & a tip of the hat to Chet Garner

1937 Ford House Car

1937 Ford House Car was produced in very limited numbers at the Ford Plant in St. Paul, Minnesota. The body is framed and paneled in wood, with sheet steel clading.

Photo and information courtesy of a previous owner, Graeme Thickins

Forties Ford beach buggy

A Cape Cod, Massachusetts 1940’s Ford wooden beach buggy with a pop-up shelter and additional storage compartments.

Source: Ford Treasury of Station Wagon Living, Volume 2
a book compiled by Franklin Reck & William Moss

1946 Chevrolet motorhome

A fascinating 1946 Chevrolet motor home featured in the September 1989 issue of Motorhome Magazine. This vehicle was owner-built from a new chassis over a period of several years soon after WW1. It attracted so much attention on the road that vacation travel was hampered by all of the people gawking and asking questions.

Thanks to Whitney Haist’s Art Deco Trucks, a site for 1941-1946 GM trucks

Citroen 2CV camper

This rustic French-built Citroën 2CV woodie camper is reminiscent of Northern California hippie campers.

You know your'e a redneck if...

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