Past Forward

Activating The Henry Ford Archive of Innovation

The evolution of auto touring in America

August 28, 2012 Think THF

If you’ve ever been to the Old Car Festival at Greenfield Village, you might be familiar with the 1920s Auto Touring exhibit. Since 2002, the exhibit has been a staple for the country’s longest-running antique car show, reminding guests what an event a “road trip” was in the early days of automobiles. To celebrate the exhibit’s 10th anniversary, roadside historian Daniel Hershberger has given the event a new twist, this time focusing on the evolution of auto touring in the early years of the 20th century, from 1914 to 1930.

1927 Auto-Kamp trailer with plate

I had a chance to talk to Dan last week about next weekend’s activities and there are some great features in store. Overall, the exhibit has expanded in its offerings. For some of the regular guests Dan sees year after year, he thinks they’ll really like what this year has to offer. An exhibit like this provides a different angle to Old Car Festival, because just as automobiles evolved, so did the motor camping industry.

For 2012, the exhibit is broken into four vignettes:

Model T Touring with tent

The Early Years

Take a look at a circa 1915 Model T five-passenger touring car outfitted with a lean-to tent.

Advent of the Trailer Era

A fully restored model of the Clare Trailer Company’s earliest offerings will not only be set up but guests can actually enter the trailer and take a look inside.

1927 Auto-Kamp trailer with Gear

The Matured Fold-Out Tent Trailer

Historians and experts believe the golden age of motor camping to be the 1920s, with the peak being reached in 1927. Guests will be able to take a look at a restored 1927 Auto-Kamp fold-out tent trailer, made in Saginaw, Mich.

1929 Covered Wagon Trailer

The End of an Era and the Birth of an Industry

A special addition this year to the exhibit, a Covered Wagon Company travel trailer prototype will be on loan from the Detroit Historical Society. The trailer, which hasn’t been on display in decades, is an important part in the evolution of auto touring as it essentially launched the modern trailer industry that we know today. Guests will learn about Arthur Sherman, the creator of the trailer, and his desire to create a camper that was easier to use for motorists.

If you’re curious to learn more about the evolution of auto touring, join us at Old Car Festival Sept. 8-9. The event is free with village admission.

Lish Dorset is Social Media Manager at The Henry Ford.

antique cars, camping

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