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The History of the Campervan

The History of the Campervan

The idea of a campervan popped up in the early 1900s. The designs had a regular RV look, but the idea didn’t go too far. For some reason, a car-pulled caravan took off.

People wanted to have their cars and a place to stay, which makes sense. This way, wherever they go, folks can drive around without lugging a motor home around. By the 1920s, the idea for the campervan disappeared. This is not to say that concepts weren’t built, but they were just that, concept campervans and nothing more.

The Campervan’s Resurgence

It took a few years for the campervan to get new life, which happened in the 1950s. Two factors led to the resurgence of the campervan. One factor was the pressed steel van and the other was the VW Microbus.

Both van types got folks thinking differently about campervans. Out of these two types of vans, the VW Microbus took the crown. In 1952, a caravan maker in Germany saw an opportunity with the popularity of the Microbus. The caravan maker decided to sell conversion kits to folks who owned this type of van, and people liked it.

One cool thing about the kit was that it was removable. If the owner wanted to sell their VW for some reason, they could just remove the kit and sell the vehicle as it was originally sold.

Addressing the Dormobile

Dormobile is one of the biggest names in campervans, and it made its appearance around the resurgence of the campervan. The first one was introduced in 1956.

This company’s standard campervan had a simple bed. It was marketed as a vehicle for exploring areas far away from society and hotels. The Dormobile was pretty simple, but it was also very accommodating.

People were able to modify it in several ways. Some people added kitchens, seating, tables, and much more. One of the famous things to come from Dormobile was the extending roof. People were able to add up to two extra beds up there, and that means it was easier for small families to travel in a campervan.

Other competitors sprung up around the time like the Bedford CA, the Kenex, and the Calthorpe, but none of them were as successful as the Dormobile. Dormobile bought Kenex at some point, and the Kenex name changed.

Getting into the 60s

When you think about the 60s and 70s, sometimes, you think about campervans. You might think about some little van with a sleeper and much more. You think about friends relaxing in the van, maybe having a drink or two. That’s because the campervan started taking off around this time for several reasons.

A lot of brands got into the game, so there were a lot of choices for folks. At this point, a big fight sprung up. It was a legal fight to ensure that folks who owned a campervan weren’t restricted. For a long time, these vehicles were classified as commercial vans. This means there were restrictions placed on those owners, including some very strict speed limits.

The company Pitt Conversions led the protest against this classification. The company wanted to make sure campervan owners had the same rights as regular car owner. The company won that fight, and it created a bigger boom for the campervan industry.

More people took an interest in the campervan now. They knew they didn’t have to worry about strange laws restricting the way they could use the campervans.

The reason you see all those old movies and shows with campervans is that all of this happened around the time. People fell in love with the idea of owning a campervan or converting a van into a campervan, especially since restrictions were changing.

The Dip in Sales

The industry took a big hit in the late 70s when there was an oil crisis. These vans were great, but they also burned up a lot of fuel, so when the prices skyrocketed, people stopped buying them because they couldn’t afford them.

Traveling across the country was hard when the gas prices spiked. Some companies fell apart during that crisis though some remained strong. It took a few years before the campervan came back. It was in the 1980s when campervan sales began to pick up but nothing close to what it was a few years back.

The next big campervan moment happened in the 2000s, and that’s because people couldn’t afford the high price of housing. A small number of folks started to look at campervans as an alternative, and that trend grew over the years.

The rise of remote workers gave the campervan industry another jolt. The remote worker could pretty much work from anywhere, including a campervan they could use to go anywhere they wanted and continue working.

Travel was something people could never do unless they asked for a vacation, but that changed because of the internet and video conferencing tools.

The pandemic changed things for the caravan industry as well. Some people were using these mobile homes to protect their families, while others were using them as a place to live since they lost their jobs. There’s no doubt this is a tragic moment in human history, but there’s no denying it affected the industry.

Now, you know much more about the history of the campervan and how it got to where it is now. The campervan is a useful vehicle, and seeing its use throughout history is pretty interesting. Who knows where things will go from here?

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