Historically, the first motorhome was allegedly created in 1910. It was a Touring Lundau from the Pierce-Arrow company from Buffalo, USA. The second is apparently this very Ford Model T Motor Caravan that we see in the pictures. Today, it is considered to be the oldest surviving motorhome in the world, and thus has considerable historical value.
This rustic dwelling, which in some ways really resembles a mobile home, was built on the very brink of the outbreak of World War 1 in 1914 on the basis of an ordinary Ford Model T for a wealthy British family. The steel ladder frame was then extended and reinforced by the Baico company, and the residential superstructure was then taken care of by the renowned company Dunton from Reading, UK.
This Ford Model T in the Motor Caravan version is not only unique from today’s point of view as (probably) the oldest surviving camper of its time. Thanks to custom production, it was very unique even more than a hundred years ago when it saw the light of day – we would have searched in vain for another, completely identical Ford Model T Motor Caravan.
The first owners were the wealthy British Bentall family, who at one time owned an important chain of department stores specializing in drapery based in Kingston upon Thames. Surprisingly, Bentalls still works today.
It was powered by a standard 2.9-liter four-cylinder engine with a laughable 20 horsepower for today’s time, but the regular Ford Model T was able to run a respectable 45 miles per hour with it for its time, i.e. some 72 km/h. However, in this case, the maximum speed will be slightly lower due to the additional weight.
Now the best is probably waiting for us – an inside look at honest craftsmanship and, in a way, a transfer back in time. The driver’s “seat” is actually a sofa, precisely upholstered in leather. When the car stops, the sofa can be turned 180 degrees and becomes one of the dominant features of the living area of the car.
However, no less attention can be drawn to the beautiful stove, which is located directly behind the driver. In addition to heating, it also serves as a cooking plate. There is also a folding dining table, an additional stool (again covered in leather) and other furniture such as a sideboard, chest of drawers and the like.
There is a bunk bed in the back of the car, which offers a smaller space above and a more spacious one below, next to it there is a wardrobe. There’s even a mailbox outside!
The history of the car after ownership by the Bentall family is unknown – it was found by a gentleman named Leo Smith sometime in the 1970s. The car was unsurprisingly in a deplorable state, so it went through a restoration straight away – this was done by a certain Robin Tanner, supposedly a famous cabinet maker.
The car is currently in the National Technical Museum in Beale, UK, and is headed for auction on September 10. The Bonhams auction house estimated it at 20 to 30 thousand pounds (574 to 862 thousand crowns), which is actually quite a decent price considering the historical importance of the vehicle.