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Blast From the Past: The 1933 Ford Kamp Kar Was One of the First V8-Powered RVs

When Ford introduced the Flathead V8 for the 1932 model year, it ushered in a new era of affordable motoring – one that we’re celebrating throughout the month of September as the V8 swansong. This Ford-based RV known as the Kamp Kar deserves its place in our unofficial V8 hall of fame.
The 1933 Ford Kamp Kar by Walter Runkle is one of the first ever to use the V8 engine 7 photos
The 1933 Ford Kamp Kar by Walter Runkle is one of the first ever to use the V8 engineThe 1933 Ford Kamp Kar by Walter Runkle is one of the first ever to use the V8 engineThe 1933 Ford Kamp Kar by Walter Runkle is one of the first ever to use the V8 engineThe 1933 Ford Kamp Kar by Walter Runkle is one of the first ever to use the V8 engineThe 1933 Ford Kamp Kar by Walter Runkle is one of the first ever to use the V8 engineThe 1933 Ford Kamp Kar by Walter Runkle is one of the first ever to use the V8 engine
September is V8 Month here on autoevolution: a month-long celebration of the iconic engine, as it’s preparing for its curtain call after a glorious run. Today’s episode of Blast From the Past brings a V8-powered RV, which also happens to be one of the first with this powerplant produced, an impeccable time capsule, and a slice of RV history.

It’s called the Ford Kamp Kar or the 1933 Ford Runkle Housecar, with the latter name offering some insight into its origin, and the former erroneously leading you to think it had some kind of connection with the Kardashian family, aka the world’s most famous klan for their love of names and words that start with the letter K. Jokes aside, this self-sufficient housecar is on permanent display at the famous Recreational Vehicle / Motor Home (RV/MH) Hall of Fame Museum in Elkhart, Indiana, which also hosts Ford’s first production-series RV and the first-ever motorhomes built.

Walter Runkle of Macomb, Illinois, was a house builder but, for about ten years of his life, he did low-volume production of custom motorhomes. People would bring him automobiles and he’d convert them into tiny houses on wheels using his experience in construction. This unit is a good example in this sense, if not the best, since it was for his personal use: a converted Ford V8 that he’d use between 1933 and 1947 for his yearly winter trips to Florida.

The Museum doesn’t offer too many specifics of said use, but it does say that this is probably one of the first motorhomes to use the V8, which had been introduced just shortly before Runkle took the RV on the road. Photos show that it’s on display in camp mode, with the awning and the side kitchen deployed. The kitchen includes a stove and a pantry, and there’s even a picnic table with seating, but whether it would have been housed inside the Kamp Kar is anyone’s guess.

The interior of the motorhome is basic at most, but it still offered sleeping for three in a double bed and a bunk, some space to move about, and minimal storage. The passenger seat could swivel to face the other way, thus creating the feeling of a proper lounge, of sorts. From the looks of it, the Kamp Kar was made for shorter trips or, at the very least, with less creature comforts than many other custom motorhomes at the time.

Then again, the importance of a housecar like this one isn’t in the way it made traveling more luxurious, but more affordable and convenient. We’re talking about the early years of the automotive industry and about the specific milestone when Ford introduced the V8 engine, which the Kamp Kar also used. The Kamp Kar sits where the early automotive industry and the start of the RV industry intersect and is, because of this, a most priceless time capsule.

Editor's note: This article was not sponsored or supported by a third-party.

 
 
 
 
 

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