autoevolution
Car video reviews:
 
Remembering the 1910 Pierce-Arrow Touring Landau, the First-Ever Production RV
What could possibly constitute the appeal of a luxury RV that is priced more than a brick-and-mortar house, costs a fortune to run and maintain, and has serious limitations as to where it can travel due to size? Among other things, it’s the promise of full-size home comforts within a space that is not the home.

Remembering the 1910 Pierce-Arrow Touring Landau, the First-Ever Production RV

The 1910 Pierce-Arrow Special Touring Landau is considered the first production RV, the father of luxury RVsThe 1910 Pierce-Arrow Special Touring Landau is considered the first production RV, the father of luxury RVsThe 1910 Pierce-Arrow Special Touring Landau is considered the first production RV, the father of luxury RVsThe 1910 Pierce-Arrow Special Touring Landau is considered the first production RV, the father of luxury RVsThe 1910 Pierce-Arrow Special Touring Landau is considered the first production RV, the father of luxury RVsThe 1910 Pierce-Arrow Special Touring Landau is considered the first production RV, the father of luxury RVs
The appeal of luxury RVs is not the possibility to show off to the rest of the world, though they do help with that. They may look incredibly big and unnecessarily flashy for a trip into the great outdoors, but they represent a market niche with many (well-off) clients. Celebrity, public figures and private individuals consider them solid options for family vacations, business ventures, or means of transport, and if these people have the money to afford them, who are we to say they’re wrong?

All modern luxury RVs have the 1910 Touring Landau to thank for introducing to the world the idea of home-like comforts on the road. Historians widely consider its introduction the birth of the luxury RV industry, and the Touring Landau the first-ever production RV. It was more like a Class-B camper by today’s standards, but back in 1910, it was the height of luxury.

The Touring Landau was built by Pierce-Arrow, a luxury automobile maker that was part of the “three Ps of Luxury” in the first decades of the century: Pierce, Peerless, and Packard. As part of autoevolution’s RV Month theme, we actually covered a later Pierce-Arrow RV, the 1928 Fleet Housecar, also known as the Privateer. The Touring Landau is the older sibling the Housecar took after.

Also known as the Pierce-Arrow 66 Touring Landau or the Pierce-Arrow Special Touring Landau, this was the first-ever vehicle to come with a toilet onboard – technically a chamber pot at the time. When it debuted at the Madison Square Garden in 1910, Pierce-Arrow had made the transition from bicycles to cars for a decade and had already established itself as the go-to luxury carmaker, building hundreds of units out of Buffalo, New York.

The Special Touring Landau was based on the 66 Landau, the largest and most expensive of the three chassis Pierce-Arrow had introduced that same year. Power came from a massive six-cylinder engine, but the interior was modified. The Landau could seat seven passengers, and so did the Special Touring Landau. In the latter case, though, the rear seats could fold down to become a bed at night, and there was the aforementioned chamber pot and, get this, a fold-down sink with a pressurized tank hidden under the coachwork.

Passengers had the option to drop the top at the rear to experience the clean air in the countryside and would communicate with the driver via a telephone. Because the Special Touring Landau was based on the limo Landau, the front side with the driver was separated from the rest of the car by a partition. Of course, whoever could afford such an RV back then could also afford a professional chauffeur, and they clearly didn’t want to have to mix with the help.

There was a roof rack and a trunk that could hold up to five suitcases in total, and special storage compartments throughout. A fold-down step automatically came out when you opened either rear door, and the interior was all genuine leather. The reason Pierce-Arrow was one of the most popular carmakers with the elite was the fact that it made high-quality, reliable, duly-tested and exquisitely-fabricated autos. This RV was no exception – and it was priced to match at $8,250 and more than $1,000 over the 66 Landau. In today’s money, that’s almost $260,000 for the Special Touring Landau, while the 66 Landau was the equivalent of $225,000.

According to a Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal story in 1910, the Special Touring Landau was an upgraded version of a model that’d been used by an American to tour Europe. However, while it could “meet every possible exigency of the road and give the passengers the maximum of comfort,” it was not meant to replace on-the-road accommodations. Instead, it was conceived to offer sleeping and the basics “in districts where accommodations were not plentiful and the car itself [became] practically the only habitation.” The 1910 Pierce-Arrow Touring Landau was the precursor of motoring hotels or motels as we know them today.

Pierce-Arrow produced 1,250 Model 66 Landaus between 1910 and 1918, and only 14 of them are known to survive today. The Special Touring Landau was even rarer, since it seems only three such units were ever built, including one for Pierce-Arrow president George K. Birge. If one still exists, its whereabouts are unknown.

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

 
 
 
 
 

Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories