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February 10, 2021

Vintage Photos of Winnebago Motorhomes From the 1960s

Winnebago has been around since 1958, but the company’s popularity dramatically increased when they started mass-producing motorhomes in 1967, thus making them more affordable. Winnebagos are recognizable thanks to their “W” logo, and many of these motorhomes have been featured in movies, such as About Schmidt and Escape to Witch Mountain.

Winnebago began as a civic project. It was in the late 1950s, and Forest City, Iowa needed jobs.  Local businessman John K. Hanson loved vacations in his family’s Aljo travel trailer, and had an idea: Lure the RV’s California manufacturer to open a local factory.

It worked. Backed by local investors, Modernistic Industries began production with 17 employees on February 12, 1958, and produced its first 15-foot towable weeks later. Its sticker price $895.

Soon, Hanson bought out the other investors, and kicked off a series of innovations in design, quality, and safety. The company made 50 improvements to the Aljo, including a choice of 15-foot, 17-foot, and 19-foot models.

The 1960s were a decade of phenomenal growth, and American prosperity drove an RV boom. Winnebago deliveries would soar from $1 million in all of 1961 to $1 million a day by September 1968. In 1961, 102 RV dealers came to the company’s first Dealer Days for tours of the now-legendary plant.

With a name change to Winnebago Industries (after the county of its locale), Winnebago pioneered game-changers in quality, manufacturing.

In 1966, Winnebago rolled out its first self-contained motorhomes: the F-19, built on a Ford chassis, and in 1967, the famous D22, built on a Dodge chassis. It was the first of many times Winnebago would set the pace for an entire industry.

Soon, an avid community was born. What is now the Winnebago International Travelers (WIT) club drew 155 trailers to the first Grand National Rally in 1966.

Winnebago managed all of this during recovery from a 1964 fire, and construction of three new plants.
By the end of the 1960s, the once-small Iowa company was the No. 1 manufacturer of travel trailers and motorhomes. And the Winnebago name had become synonymous with all RV’s.

For several decades, Winnebago focused on motorhomes and raised the bar with living amenities that have become industry standard. But a surge in camping among young people and active adults is driving a big revival in towables. A generation that values experiences over stuff wants affordable, compact models that help them unplug while keeping modern conveniences and digital connections.

So, while staying strong in motorhomes, Winnebago has returned to its roots, putting smart design and manufacturing into a full line of feature packed travel trailers. After six decades, the RV pioneer is still a leading innovator, giving the new RVer extraordinary options for work, play, and travel.

(via US Adventure RV)


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