I don’t know what it is about vintage mobile homes, and manufactured homes, that appeal to me so much.
Perhaps it’s the important role that mobile homes have played in our country - providing housing to millions of families that otherwise wouldn’t have had a home at all. Maybe it’s their fall from grace – mobile homes were once so respected, those that lived in a mobile home were considered the ultimate American patriots, but now mobile home owners are stigmatized. Perhaps it’s the wonderful business lessons that the industry has taught us – to change when you need to, but not too much that you lose yourself, and always treat the customer right.
It wouldn’t matter what subject you wanted to study in detail. Whether it be history, psychology, sociology, or business – mobile and manufactured homes covers them all!
I’ve been meaning to bring back the vintage ads for a while now and I’m happy to announce that Throwback Thursdays will become a weekly event. I had suspended posting vintage mobile home ads and literature because I wanted to make sure all eras of manufactured housing was represented equally. I hoped the site would be recognized as a resource for manufactured home remodels and decor, not just vintage mobile home ads. I think we’re at a place now where we can enjoy the best of both worlds!
1953 – The Year of the Mobile Home
I chose 1953 for this first Throwback Thursday post because it was such a pivotal point for mobile homes. The Trailer Coach Manufacturers Association was renamed the The Mobile Home Manufacturers Association because the industry was heading toward providing larger, year-round housing, as opposed to the smaller travel and vacation trailers.
Facts About Mobile Homes in 1953
The following photo shows a page from an early spring issue of a 1953 mobile home magazine. It states the following facts:
- There are approximately 150 different manufacturers producing around 75,000 units. It was later determined that in 1953 there were 76,900 trailers and mobile homes shipped to new owners. Sales went up $2 million dollars from the previous year. It was definitely a great year for both the industry and the consumers!
- Mobile home manufacturing was an essential industry and 90% of all trailer coaches were sold to men and women in the armed services or to workers in the defense and allied industries. Army, Navy, and Air Force personnel, pipeline workers, builders of atomic energy plants engineers and other groups of essential workers had found trailer living as a way to keep their families together as they moved from job to job and post to post. Living in a trailer or mobile home in 1953 was a very patriotic act that was well respected.
- The average price of a mobile home was $2,800 to $6,300. The average mobile home owner was making about $1,000 more than the national income average. It goes on to state that mobile home dwellers bring prosperity to the communities they live in, bringing a combined purchasing power of over $8,000,000,000 (yes, $8 billion!) each year.
1953 Basic Construction Standards
Below is a list from the 1953 Mobile Home Yearbook that shows basic construction standards endorsed by the Trailer Coach Manufacturers Association(TCMA):
- Fully insulated in the walls, roof and floor with a minimum approved one inch flame retardant insulation, or equal.
- Effectively sealed for the prevention of moisture transmission with an approved asphalt vapor barrier, or equal.
- Have the necessary road lights to conform to highway safety.
- Have an all-metal chassis frame, coupler and safety chains, and have running gear location, hitch weight, interior arrangement properly balanced so as to insure, with proper load distribution and at normal highway speeds, highway performances free of weave and sidesway.
- Have tires, axle, springs, wheels, hubs, and bearings adequate to carry its own weight plus the usual personal effects of the occupants, and be properly equipped with service fittings.
- Be equipped, when in excess of 1500 pounds, with brakes adequate under normal driving conditions to insure safe, effective performance.
- Have a minimum width of 7′ and a maximum width of 8′, and a minimum interior height of 6’2″ on all trailers in excess of 17 feet body length. Interior arrangements shall include a proper ratio of living room, kitchenette, and bedroom equipment and facilities, such as wardrobe, linen closets, storage cabinets and refrigerator.
- Have 2 exterior exits on all trailers in excess of 17 feet body length. Adequate ventilation devices, proportionately distributed throughout the interior, shall be included.
- Be supported by a warranty, to be visibly displayed, guaranteeing materials and workmanship.
Below is an ad in the yearbook for a 1953 Glider Mobile Home:
The TenWide by Marshfield Homes – A New Era Begins
1953 was the year of the TenWide (or TenWyde) by Marshfield Homes. Trailers and mobile homes were stuck at 8′ wide because the national highway authority wouldn’t allow anything wider to be transported on the roads, it was a way for them to legally discriminate against the ‘Gypsy’s’ of the road.
Floor plans on homes 8′ wide or less required owners to walk through one room to get to the next. This made for little privacy, but with the introduction of the 10′ wide a hallway could be utilized. Elmer Frey, as president of Marshfield Homes, went to work to get the 10′ wide home legalized for transport. The ‘wide load’ classification is still in use today, but now the homes can be 18′ wide!
Great Mobile Home Designs of 1953
Buyers had so many wonderful new designs to choose from! Budger’s Expando home was introduced. The first model measured 24′x7’6″ and when you got the home to the site, you folded down 3 sides and lifted the roof up which doubled the homes living space. It was an engineering feat that made the folding box homes of the era seem like a cardboard box (and they were close because they leaked terribly). The industry was showing the world what it could do, and it could do so much!
Here is the 27′ Budger Expando Home:
The 1953 Pontiac Chief, a gorgeous home that had several different floor plans you could chose from:
The 1953 Vagabond was 41′ long:
Below is a page out of the Mobile Home Living magazine’s December 1953 issue. It shows the models available for 1954, another great year for mobile homes.
As always, thank you so much for reading Mobile and Manufactured Home Living!