Sometimes the artifacts in our collection introduce us to a world we never knew existed. A series of photos from the Kingston Peninsula, circa 1920, included the following image:
Yup, that’s right. It’s a car tent.
As cars grew in popularity – and in number – touring became the fashionable pass time of anyone with wheels. Manufacturers jumped on this new opportunity and created touring solutions for their car models that included fold-out tables and camping stoves, and even full tent extensions that converted the car into a mobile inn. The tent solution was touted as not only convenient, but more cost effective than staying in a hotel.
We found this image for a “Schilling Auto Tent” solution on the Model T Ford Forum (a fascinating spot where early car enthusiasts celebrate the best – and strangest – details of early motoring). The 60-pound solution provided sleeping space for two and folded conveniently away on the running board when not in use.
This same website directed us to a 1923 publication, Motor Camping written by J.C. Long and John D. Long. The book explores a series of ‘great American trips” to take by motor car. It also provides a series of trip comparisons to illustrate the cost-effectiveness of auto tent solutions. In one comparison, a family of five travelling with an auto-tent solution take a month-long journey for just $101.03; a similar journey by rail with hotel stays is tallied at $921.93. That’s a cost savings of over $800!!! How could you afford NOT to purchase an Auto Tent solution?!