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Pages From the Past: 50 Years of MotorHome Magazine

Originally Published in MotorHome Magazine

Retracing MotorHome’s August issues over the years

The emergence of MotorHome Life in the summer of 1968 marked the beginning of a new era in recreational vehicles. Though motorized RVs had been popular for years among certain segments, the debut issue acted as a declaration that a new culture had truly arrived. So, it’s only fitting that the following year, when MotorHome Life would be upgraded to a quarterly publication, a similar breakthrough would occur within society’s counterculture movement. In August 1969, more than 300,000 people – many in buses that were a precursor to motorhomes of the future – descended upon Yasgur’s field in Bethel, New York, for the music festival known as Woodstock. And, although the three-day event would become a symbol of a much more social-conscious movement on a grander scale than the introduction of our favorite RV magazine, both events would prove that these previously ignored populations could no longer be denied.

With such notoriety comes public notice. As MotorHome Life gained traction, it began attracting celebrities to share their stories, including Graham Kerr, TV’s famous “Galloping Gourmet,” who in the August 1971 issue discussed cooking in a motorhome and offered tips on maximizing the small galley in an RV. More well-known personalities would follow in subsequent years, from John Wayne to Gale Sayers to Andy Griffith.

But MotorHome has always been about much more than celebrity chefs and TV actors subscribing to the lifestyle we so love; the magazine has always prided itself on providing focused content for motorhome enthusiasts.

The August ’73 issue shares a list of bad habits to avoid while driving. See if any of these still apply: overusage of brakes, neglecting proper tire inflation, ignoring electrical problems and issues with campground power supplies. Throw in texting while driving, and that list could just as easily have appeared today.

What could not have appeared today: an “extensive” Buyers Guide of 39 Class A motorhomes as trumpeted on the cover of the 1979 edition. (The 2018 RV Buyers Guide features almost twice that amount, in addition to nearly 500 additional RVs of all types).
In 1984, rocker Sammy Hagar declared “I Can’t Drive 55,” a sentiment MotorHome agreed with the following year, opening up a discussion on whether the national speed limit of 55 mph should be reconsidered. In ’86, a motorhome makeover featuring a Dodge Travco was highlighted; “The Classic Ride” follows the same premise each month.

The 1990s would become the decade of the RV slideout, and the ’97 issue included the Jayco Designer 3230S, which was that company’s first motorhome so equipped.

The turn of the century continued MotorHome’s close examinations of fuel costs, with an August 2001 headline screaming “Pump Prices Skyrocket!” The story would compare costs based on prices of $2, $2.50 and $3 per gallon; keep in mind those were considered exorbitant figures at the time.

The 2003 issue would see a test on a Fleetwood Discovery Class A. Turn to page 36 in this issue for a look at the new Discovery. And, with the rig’s luxury appointments and room for entertaining guests, we imagine those who attended Woodstock back in ’69 would have had an even more memorable experience had they stayed in the Discovery … provided they remember it at all.


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