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Monday, 21 October 2019 14:38

On the Lighter Side: Could the 1929 Studebaker ‘House Car’ Be the First Motor Home?

Written by Greg Zyla, More Content Now
This 1929 Studebaker House Car could well be the first ever fully self-contained motor home ever built. It was a “one-off” order and built by Advance Auto Body Works in Los Angeles. It is shown here in 2016 in its un-restored condition. This 1929 Studebaker House Car could well be the first ever fully self-contained motor home ever built. It was a “one-off” order and built by Advance Auto Body Works in Los Angeles. It is shown here in 2016 in its un-restored condition. Hemmings Motor News

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Although motor homes didn't really take off until the 1970s, the first motor home that we know of was built by Raymond Frank back in 1958.

It rode on a Dodge chassis and included everything needed for self-containment. Frank went on to build seven more for customers, expanded his newly named Travco business and the commercial motor home business was off and running. In 1959, Winnebago began its motor home wizardry, and before you knew it many others joined the fray. Even after a slowdown in the 1970s due to the gas crisis, many motor homes were built and they average about 50,000 a year in sales nowadays.

 

But it's that 1929 Studebaker House Car you ask about that may well be the first self-contained motor home ever built. However, it was not mass-produced and was a one-off manufacturing marvel built on a Studebaker truck and bus commercial chassis and cab.

 

The House Car you speak of started life as one of the 2,225 stretched heavy-duty commercial vehicle chassis that Studebaker began assembling in 1925. This Studebaker cab and chassis units came in either 158, 184 and later 220-inch wheelbase lengths powered initially by a six-cylinder engine. By December 1928, Studebaker replaced the six with a straight eight-cylinder for more power for its truck/bus chassis.

 

Many coachbuilders of the day were either hired directly by Studebaker for finishing, or if an owner desired they could decide what coach builder they wanted to finish the job. Although you mention 200 House Cars were built, it turns out there was only the one we discuss here.

 

The '29 Studebaker House Car in question rode on a 184-inch wheelbase and utilized the straight-eight for power. And what's truly amazing is that this 1929 Studebaker House Car is still around today in un-restored condition, a real gem for those who might get to see it.

 

Little is known of the person who commissioned the build, other than that it was a wealthy family from the Los Angeles community of San Marino. It was given the name "Dulce Domum," which is Latin for the words "Sweet Home."


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