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January 14, 2021

1917 Adams Motor Bungalo Deluxe

Here’s a photo of the Adams Motor Bungalo purported to be the “original 5th wheel” dating back to 1917, developed by Glenn H. Curtiss and his brother-in-law, G. Carl Adams.

Built in 1917, this piece of history was considered a luxury RV back in the day. People with money to spare used this mobile home to enjoy nature. It provides plenty of shade and interior space to make your vacation pleasant and memorable.  People back then must have had a lovely time in this classic RV.

Glenn H. Curtiss (1878–1930) is best remembered today for his numerous accomplishments in the field of aviation, however he was a multifaceted inventor and engineer who had a hand in numerous transportation-related businesses. His prior success in the fields of self-powered 2-wheeled vehicles (bicycle & motorcycle) had a major influence on his aeronautical success, and after his early retirement he joined Carl G. Fisher in the development of South Florida real estate and manufacturing.

Although he was never directly involved in auto manufacturing, he held multiple automobile dealerships (Ford, Frayer-Miller and Orient Buckboard) in his hometown of Hammondsport during the early 20th century. He experimented with a propeller-driven wind car in 1905 and in 1917 introduced the nation’s first flying automobile, the Curtiss Autoplane. He fitted several cars with his 90 h. p. Curtiss OX-5 V-8 engines and owned numerous custom-built automobiles for which he either designed or commissioned unusual streamlined features and coachwork.

Curtiss was also a proponent of motor travel, and developed one of the nation’s first travel trailers which was followed by his famous luxury fifth-wheel Aerocar trailers constructed along aeroframe principles. His final project was a modular fwd automobile constructed using a pneumatic suspension he had developed for use as a fifth-wheel trailer hitch.

Curtiss enjoyed his trailer so much that he established a small trailer manufacturing outfit to manufacturer them installing his half-brother, G. Carl Adams (1897– 1963) to head the operation which was headquartered in Garden City, Long Island although the trailers were actually manufactured in his hometown of Hammondsport.

George Carl Adams adored his much older half-brother and upon graduation from high school, went to work for him - eventually becoming his most trusted business partner. After Glen relocated his household to Garden City, Long Island, George Carl made frequent trips between Long Island, Buffalo and Hammondsport tending to pressing business issues, and shortly after his brother ‘retired’ from the airplane business, Glenn installed him as president of a start-up firm formed to manufacture a line of travel trailers based on his recently-constructed travel-trailer.

A complete line of trailers was advertised; 5 camping and 10 commercial, all of which were built using a standard rectangular single axle bed and integral triangular prow whose single spike dropped into a receiver located at the rear of the tow vehicle.

The top-of-the-line Motor Bungalo Deluxe, which retailed at $1,200, had a rigid top and sides and measured 12 ft. 6 in. long, 5 ft. 8 in. wide and 6 ft. 4 in. tall. Next in line was the significantly shorter Motor Bungalo Junior a four model line of traditional folding canvas-topped camp trailers that were priced from $485 to $655.

The commercial trailers all shared the same unique 5-sided trailer bed as the Bungalo Jr., but were equipped with far less equipment. The basic open-bed Model A, priced at $195, could be outfitted with numerous options such as a basic rack; a flared rack; a deluxe cattle rack; a double deck; an express top with rigid roof and ‘Tufhyde’ (nitirite-coated fabric) sides; and a standard top with rigid roof and rigid sides. Other commercial units included the $215 dumping trailer and the top-of-the-line $370 trailer with solid delivery body.


A Deluxe Motor Bungalo was featured in the June 1921 issue of Popular Science:

“Hitch a Bungalo to Your Car

“’Stop at the Glenmore!’ At regular intervals you see this sign as you tour through the country; you decided to stop there. But when you arrive, weary and worn, you find that the Glenmore is in the heart of the city on a noisy main street, or else that it is full.

“Glenn H. Curtiss and his brother-in-law, G. Carl Adams, have solved this problem by inventing a bungalow on wheels that is attached to the automobile, trailer fashion. It is well-equipped, and yet not heavy enough to cause excessive strain. When you wish to sleep, eat, or rest, you stop the car in some convenient place and move into the bungalow. There you will find a kitchen, pantry, a bathroom, clothes and bedding lockers, a table, chairs and berths that will accommodate six people. The bungalow even has electric lights and running water. The windows are all properly screened and they are also provided with water-proof curtains.

“The bungalo is coupled to the automobile by a bar.”

A display ad in the June 25, 1921 of the Trenton Evening Times:

“Make Your Vacation Worth While. Take One of Our Motor Bungalows Behind Your Car to the Mountains or Seashore. Come and visit our Camp at River Road and Trenton Junction Road (near Riverside Inn).

”Adams Trailer Corporation Garden City, Long Island, N.Y.”


F. E. Brimmer’s ‘Autocamping’ (pub. 1923) included a thorough review of the Deluxe and Junior versions:

“We have found the Adams Motorbungalo a deluxe camping trailer outfit, with: two double spring beds and mattresses; a complete kitchenette including ice box refrigerator, folding kitchen table, shelf, holders for utensils and dishes, water tank, gasoline stove, and plenty of room to carry all bulk food; roomy wardrobe with hanger rod; screened and curtained windows to the number of five; and an absolutely water-tight roof. Speaking of the roof, this is a frame of light wood over which is placed 10-ounce heavy oil duck, and topped with Fabrikoid, much like the automobile tops of the best cars. From each side of the top extend leatherette curtains, or flies, this giving double protection of canvas and leatherette over your head.

“The beds counterbalance with the roof of this outfit, so that when opening the double spring beds their weight lifts up the roof; and vice versa, when shutting up this camp the weight of the roof in settling down helps close the beds. Although there are small adjustable braces that may be let down at each corner of the extended camp, still this is not necessary under ordinary conditions, so substantial is this outfit. It is braced in place securely by a foot extending down from the draw-pull and by the rear step. This camp can be unhitched and completely set up in five minutes anywhere. It is automatic simplicity itself. Just step inside, push out on the upright beds, and as they easily swing to horizontal your camp is automatically made entire.

“The 3-foot-square door that opens the kitchenette and wardrobe, slips off its hinges and becomes a camp table of regular height. The kitchenette may be opened from inside or out, whether you are trailing this outfit on the road and need to put in provisions, or have it erected in camp. Over the kitchenette and wardrobe there is a triangular-shaped shelf three feet on a side. The sides of this trailer are steel and the bottom is matched wood. The rear door has two panels, a screened window, and may be locked from inside or out.

“The hitch of the Motorbungalo is instantaneous ball and socket of the best type. Wheels are 30 x 3 ½ inches, the bearings are roller type, and there are excellent steel springs. This outfit attaches to the frame of your car, being secured by a rear bumper bolted by two braces to your car frame. The body is 84 inches wide and the sides 13 inches. The complete camp erected makes a shelter 9x12 feet. The complete bungalow weighs about 850 pounds.

“When on the road this outfit rides almost as high as the top of your automobile, but the front end is V-shaped and hence does not necessarily give more wind resistance than a trailer packing down lower. It is a camp that you may depend upon as dust-proof, bug-proof, and dry. Recently the author and his family, including the two small children, slept in this outfit during a period of rainy weather that lasted over a month and all but took the joy out of autocamping. However, day and night, we ate, lived, and slept in a bone-dry place inside this outfit.

“The Motorbungalo Junior is a lighter model made by the Adams firm, folding down flat and compact, but having only a canvas roofing over your head, as do all other standard trailers. It has the kitchenette, wardrobe space, screened windows, and two comfortable double spring beds. There is a curtain arrangement so that you can divide camp into two bedchambers if you like. The basic trailer is the same as for the regular Motorbungalo, which was originally designed by Glenn H. Curtiss and is today manufactured in the original airplane factories of the inventor. Both styles of Motorbungalo trailers may be stripped of their camping outfits and used as a commercial trailer the year round when you don't want to camp. The body has a drop tail gate.”

Adams Trailer Corp. offered at least 15 models: the top-of-the-line Motor Bungalo, at $1200; four ‘Camp Trailers’, ranging from $485 to $655; and ten ‘commercial trailers’ starting at $215 (with ‘dumping attachment’) and rising to $370 (with ‘solid delivery body’).

40 dealers, distributors and agencies offered Adams Trailers in Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Ontario and Quebec.





2 comments:

  1. Re: Adams Motor Bungalo
    Did you notice the UFO above the second tree on the left???

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am amazed by the features offered by this line of RV's. The tent trailers are very much, in every way, the same as offered by the Coleman tent trailer company in the late late 50s. The fold out beds are exactly the same. The same for the 5th wheel trailer. VERY futuristic for 1920. Cleon

    ReplyDelete



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