What Is The World’s Oldest Surviving Motorhome?

When someone wants to go on a caravan holiday, there are two main approaches they can take.

The first is the free and flexible approach; they choose their caravan, their tow car, their caravan supplies, and make sure that everything they want to bring fits in the back, the caravan is suitable for towing and the tow car is comfortable to drive when laden.

However, there is another approach using the all-in-one concept of the motorhome, and this concept has a surprisingly lengthy history dating over a century.

In 1908, the Ford Motor Company produced one of the longest lasting, most influential and highest-selling cards of its era: The Model T.

After a few decades of evolutions, competing technologies and dead ends, the Ford Model T became the first massively successful car and its simplicity meant that it was a capable platform for modification.

As a result, in 1914, a unique motorised caravan was commissioned by the Bentall family, who owned a chain of department stores that are now a part of Fenwick.

The all-timber caravan body was built by traditional coachbuilder Dunton of Reading, whilst Baico helped to strengthen and lengthen the Model T chassis to fit the new caravan on top.

After the First World War, the caravan is believed to have been sold and then sadly abandoned, only to be found in Shepperton in the 1970s by Leo Smith, who subsequently commissioned his cabinet-making friend Robin Tanner to help restore it.

What helped here is that by some miracle, only 5 per cent of the original timber that made up the body needed to be replaced, and after four years of restoration work, the vehicle was completed winning a Concours award in 1976.

Whilst this one-of-a-kind Model T is the oldest surviving motorhome and perhaps the first full-sized motorhome, the Pierce-Arrow Touring Landau was a seven-seater car with seats that could fold down to become a bed, alongside a fold-down sink and chamber pot.