THE AMERICAN RV

Along with Airstreams, ARC also specialise in RV restoration, although here in the UK we usually call them motorhomes or campervans. In the US - where an estimated 8 million people own one - RV stands for Recreational Vehicle.

winnebago

The first motorised camper vehicles originated in 1910, when the Pierce-Arrow motor company introduced the Touring Landau model at the Madison Square Garden Auto Show. Following the introduction of this concept, many of the first RVs were one-offs developed by enthusiasts. In 1938 a company called Jennings began commercial motorhome production, mounting a caravan body onto a car chassis, but production was halted following the onset of World War Two.

After the war, during the 1950s and 60s, RVs as we know them today began to emerge. Winnebago is one such brand, which has become synonymous with the term motorhome - and is commonly used as a generic trademark for this kind of vehicle, whether they are the genuine article or not. After shaky beginnings in 1958, the firm produced their first commercially successful RV in 1966. These motorhomes were sold at around half the price of their competitor's products, leading to a great deal of popularity in the RV community and widespread distribution throughout the US.

Airstream also produced their own shiny Airstream motorhomes, based on the caravan design, but motorised. These were narrower than the traditional Winnebago and are constructed from polished aluminium, retaining a lot of the iconic Airstream features, which Airstream devotees know and love.

You can check our some of our recent American RV renovation and Airstream motorhome restoration projects on our RV page.

RVS AND POP CULTURE

Like the Airstream, RVs are entwined with popular culture in the US - both in front of and behind the camera. Many RVs many are used on film sets - as production offices or as a living space for actors, directors and other crew members.

RVS ON TV AND FILM

In recent years vintage RVs have become cultural icons - featuring in movies such as RV (Runaway Vacation) - with Robin Williams, where the RV was the star of the show - and many other popular films and road movies including Meet the Fockers and Paul, as well as TV shows including The Walking Dead, which featured a 1973 Winnebago Chieftain quite prominently during the first two seasons.

chieftan

One of the most iconic uses of an RV in a TV series in recent years of course has to have been in Breaking Bad where hapless Jesse Pinkman and his cancer-stricken former chemistry teacher, Walter White turn a vintage RV into a mobile meth lab - the model used in this popular drama series was a 1986 Fleetwood Bounder.