50 Years of MotorHome: Pages From the Past

Retracing MotorHome’s January/February issues over the years

After beginning life as an annual buyers guide in 1968 and in response to popular demand, MotorHome Life increased its frequency to bimonthly in 1971, the same year that Apollo 14 landed on the moon. And the magazine hasn’t looked back since.

The months of January and February represent new beginnings to many. Just after Richard M. Nixon was sworn in for a second term, the February ’73 issue saw an advertisement for the brand-new Minnie Winnie, billed as “the first mini motor home good enough to wear the Flying W.” That same issue included a feature on “Motorhome and the Single Girl,” dispelling (and sometimes, unfortunately, reinforcing) many of the outdated beliefs of the time. February ’74 included a commentary by publisher Art Rouse on the ongoing oil crisis, encouraging shorter trips and doubling up with other motorhome owners to conserve gas. This sentiment would continue, as the January ’78 issue examined fuel-economy tips and tricks, while an Airstream advertisement in the January 1981 issue flaunted the 15-mpg Airstream Diesel Class A.

MotorHome dropped the “Life” from its name in January ‘82, and in the same issue offered a look at the effects of consumerism on the quality of motorhome manufacturing. The magazine achieved monthly status in ‘83.

Technology was at the forefront in January ’85, as two events — the introduction of Apple computers and the beginning of the “Domain Name System” to be used by something called the Internet — set the tech world ablaze. Following suit, the February ’85 issue offered a look at “High-Tech TV,” including clunky satellite dishes exponentially larger than those of today.

As we moved into the 1990s, MotorHome tested the first production coach to offer slideouts, the Newmar London Aire 37’, in the February ’91 issue, just following the declaration — and subsequent cease fire — of the Gulf War with Iraq.

At the turn of the century, things were looking up. Vehicle tests in the February 2003 issue featured a pair of upscale motorhomes — the Chinook Glacier and Georgie Boy Cruise Master 36’ — while anticipation for the magazine’s successful annual gathering, The Rally, began to build, headed that year for the Daytona Speedway in Florida. MotorHome would undergo another facelift in February ’08, while features on RVing in New Zealand and Super C motorhomes reflected a strong economy … just before the bubble burst and the stock market nosedived due to the sub-prime market crisis.

The next decade would usher in the concept of “greener living,” and Senior VP/Group Publisher Bob Livingston used the On-Ramp column in February 2011 to prove that RVing was much more environmentally conscious than thought. A Walkthrough of the fuel-efficient Pleasure-Way Plateau TS on the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis was further proof of his claim.

Which brings us to today: fuel-efficient vehicles, such as easy-to-handle Class B’s and Class C’s, are now the talk of the town, and a January 2017 test on the new Hymer Aktiv proved that the economy and versatility generally reserved for overseas travelers has cemented its hold stateside. Even longtime Class A builders such as Tiffin have downsized their offerings to match the trend; the new Wayfarer Class C shown in the January 2018 test is based on the fuel-sipping Sprinter chassis as well.


 

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