Canadians, and North Americans in general, have long valued the freedom of the open road, going to great lengths to explore the expansive scenery the land has to offer. The move to the use of recreational vehicles, beginning as early as 1915, started with a desire to be able to travel and discover as much as possible without leaving the comforts of home behind. The back to nature movement, popularized in the US in the early 20th century, expressed a desire for people to be able to escape the city and take advantage of the thrill of independence the great outdoors had to offer. Developments in technology merged with this desire to create something that could house passengers for weekend getaways and road trips, and the recreational vehicle was born.
There are two types of recreational vehicles: the RV and the truck camper. Truck campers are a form of demountable RV that can be loaded on to the bed of a pickup truck. They are convenient for weekend trips and are popular among a variety of people, as they can accommodate the towing of trailers, horse trailers, and boats. The RV is distinguished by the fact that its living quarters are included in the design of the motor vehicle itself, rather than attached. Read on to learn more about the history of these vehicles and how they gained popularity throughout North America.
A History of RVs for Those with Automotive Training
While the first kind of recreational vehicle was actually a horse-drawn wagon, those with auto careers may already know that with the rise of affordable automobiles in the early 20th century, the use of the car was well-established. By 1910, car sales were increasing and so were the vacations people were taking with their cars. In 1915, the Conklin family took a cross country camping trip in a vehicle that would later become the template for motorhomes to come.
Built by the Conklin’s Gas Electric Motor Bus Company and known as the “Gypsy Van,” the vehicle’s journey received wide media coverage, regarded as a technological wonder. The van was equipped with a full kitchen, an electrical generator, sleeping berths, a phonograph, a folding table, and various other handy appliances. By the 1920s, many average families possessed a similar vehicle, and the use of the RV became widespread.
After generations of improvements and additions, the RV has evolved to embrace its full potential today with the Class A motorhome, which can include multiple bathrooms, TVs, and even a king bed in some models. The vehicle itself may have changed, but the desire to access the freedom of the outdoors without sacrificing modern comforts hasn’t.
The Rise of Truck Campers
If you’re interested in automotive training, you may already be familiar with the many benefits of pickup trucks, but you might not know that it was because of the rise in their popularity that truck campers began to be widely used. In the 1950s, truck campers began to grow in popularity as an alternative to motorhomes or trailers when pickup trucks started to be seen as modes of family transportation rather than just commercial vehicles. Manufacturers jumped on the opportunity to attach a camper body to truck beds so families could enjoy the advantages of a motorhome while using a pickup truck.
Truck campers began as a box which covered the bed of the truck, and later evolved to include the cab over bed concept, giving the campers more space. Since these campers were originally an American concept, there are many manufacturers in the US and Canada today offering many different options, such as the hard side model, the pop-up model, and adventurer campers.
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