The term RV (recreational vehicle) covers both trailer caravans and motor caravans, although the latter accounts for the majority (56%) of sales and a far bigger proportion of revenue. America really is a nation that loves RVs, with an estimated 23 million folk expected to take at least one tour during the next 12 months.
Here, I’m taking a look at some of the different RVs you can expect to see in America, but if you’re looking for a way to keep yours in tip-top condition, be sure to check out our best RV cleaner and our best RV wax guides to see our top picks on the market.
When you’re thinking about the different RVs of America, you’re bound to think of Airstream, a brand that is iconic for its riveted aluminium aircraft-style caravans and motorhomes that have been winning design awards since the 1930s. Founder Wally Byam probably ‘borrowed’ the method of construction from his former employer, WG Bowlus of Road Chief! Pictured below is a 1979 Excella, as offered for sale recently.
Previously, the Airstream Excella 280 featured in our Hall of Fame too, with the 8.53m long ‘van coming with a domestic-sized gas cooker with grill and oven, plus a mega-sized microwave and fridge-freezer.
Panel van conversions
This Boho panel van conversion is on a Ford Transit. David Sodemann and Brett Ellenson offer spectacularly good bespoke conversions, using natural materials. In 2018, they wanted to build just one, to hire out. In the past few years, they have expanded massively, and have a full order book of those wishing to buy.
These are unique among RVs in that they have no wheels… of their own! This Alaskan solid-sided telescopic-body camper offers comfort on site, plus super stability on the road. It also provides fuel economy, something that is important when looking to maximise your motorhome fuel consumption.
RD Hall named his company Alaskan because his very first camper was built for his own trip to Alaska. Price: $42,090 (£33,400).
Extremely large motorhomes, such as the Tiffin Allegro shown above, are affectionately known as big bus ‘pushers’ because the entrance door is positioned far forward (often ahead of the front axle); there are highline ladder-chassis rails above the wheels, and the engine is at the far rear, ‘pushing’ the whole rig along. Tiffin is based in Red Bay, Alabama.
There are enormous numbers of DIY motorhomes in the USA, especially among full-timers, the early retired and millennials. The instantly recognisable yellow school bus is a very popular base when sold out-of-service, although smaller mini-coaches, previously common in rural areas, are also used, some from the late 1950s.
The one pictured here suggests a truly idyllic lifestyle.
That’s big kid’s ‘toys’ – such as jet-skis, quad bikes, small cars and a Harley Davidson motorcycle… or two. A cavernous ‘garage’ occupies all of the space behind the rear wheels.
Access is via a pedestrian door (under the roll-out awning), or the massive ramp that hinges upwards to form the back wall. Shown here is a Thor Motor Coach Outlaw, priced at $298,000 (£236,000).
Full-wall slide outs
These are a natural development of the smaller slide-out, but it takes real engineering skill to do it well, as can be seen on this Forester 3271S by Indiana-based Forest River RV.
This might look like an A-class motorhome at first glance, but it is actually a Luton overcab coachbuilt on a Ford DSO twin rear-wheel-drive chassis-cab.
Airstream changes direction
We’ve now come full circle and are back with Airstream. It still produces the classic ‘silver palace’ trailer caravans, but has also developed its motorhome offer to include a new range of highly desirable off-grid, go-anywhere Touring Coaches (panel van conversions), based on the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.
Proof positive that the thriving American RV industry continues to evolve.
Another part of your RV that is important to maintain is the roof – check out our best RV roof cleaner guide to see our top picks if you’re in need of a cleaning product to get it back to its former glory.
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