Vintage Mobile Homes of 1953

Vintage Mobile Homes of 1953

I don’t know what it is about a vintage mobile home, 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. Looks like we are 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 in mobile homes. The Trailer Coach Manufacturers Association was renamed 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 homeowner 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.
  • Must 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 ensure, 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 ensure 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 the 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!

Marshfield Homes 10 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 closed 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:

Budger Expando Home

The 1953 Pontiac Chief, a gorgeous home that had several different floor plans you could choose from:

The 1953 Vagabond was 41′ long:

Vagabond 1953 mobile home ad

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 Home Living! 

Crystal Adkins
Hello! I'm Crystal and I created Mobile Home Living® in 2011.I hope Mobile Home Living is an inspiring and informative resource for you. Please consider letting me feature your mobile home remodels, DIY projects, and makeovers. There aren't enough resources for us mobile home owners online and I want to change that! Thank you!

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10 Comments

  • Jenn conant April 17, 2019 12:13 pm

    Hi is the angelus 1950 model is there any pictures of how it looked. Where can I find out some info on it?

    • Crystal Adkins August 1, 2019 10:26 pm

      Hi Jenn,

      You may be able to find some old brochures on the model you are looking for. Angelus was all over the old mobile home magazines I’ve seen. There are a few sellers on Ebay that offer CD’s of old mobile home magazines from the 1950s – one of those magazines may have an advertisement or featured story.

      best of luck!

  • Ron Fidge January 11, 2018 11:53 pm

    I have a 1952 Budger Expando Home that a friend says he wants badly, it has a 2 inch foam roof covered with aluminum. hand crank cable closing, all in good shape, what are these things worth? and thanks for this site.

    • Crystal Adkins February 11, 2018 3:16 pm

      Hi Ron,

      It’s impossible to tell. There’s not a huge market for trailers that cannot be towed easily – us vintage mobile home lovers a small niche.

      Best of luck!

  • james lockwood February 11, 2016 11:55 pm

    I have a nice color photograph taken about 10 years ago of a trailer with the information on the logo : Albatross by Glider Mfg. Los Angeles CA. It has since disappeared from it’s former location on the shore of the Salton Sea. It’s either been scrapped for the aluminum or perhaps re-built.
    Do you have any background on the company and their models ? Thank You

    • Crystal Adkins February 17, 2016 12:34 pm

      Hi James!

      I used to try to research builders for readers but it became very time-consuming. I have seen a lot of Glider advertisements through the years but I know nothing about the company personally. Sorry! You may have better luck on Facebook, there’s a few vintage mobile home groups and some of the members really know their stuff (they don’t even have to research they just know that much about mobile homes). Search for vintage mobile home groups on FB and ask to join.

      Best of luck! Sorry!

  • Holly January 25, 2016 12:53 am

    Hi There. I have a 1953 Trail-ette. I believe it’s 8×50. It has a tiny bathroom w/a bedroom in the back and a single bed in the middle area (between the bathroom & kitchen). The living room is in the front. It has a small fold-down built-in table. What I’m wondering is if the Trail-ette is related to the Spartan? I’ve read something about it being part of the company or something, but do you know? Thanks.

    • Crystal Adkins January 29, 2016 1:33 pm

      Hi Holly!

      As far as I know Spartan was not associated with any other models or companies though they did use other companies as ‘inspiration’ before they decided to build trailers. I read where one of their managers traveled to Indiana (the trailer capital of the world at the time) and toured a couple of factories in an effort to convince the executives that they could successfully turn the aircraft factory into a trailer factory and use all the remaining inventory after the war.

      Based on vintage ads that I found, Trail-ettes were built by the Universal Trailer and MFG Company out of Missouri. Spartans were manufactured in Tulsa.

      The Trail-ettes seemed to have similar paneling as a Spartan but their framing was wood instead of aluminum. Click this link to see a 1947 restoration: http://www.crussenclassics.com/vintage-campers/1947-trailette/)

      Here’s an ad for a 1954: http://www.allmanufacturedhomes.com/html/1954_trail-ette.htm

  • Becky Vallely June 19, 2014 8:56 am

    I have a 1954 Southwestern Mobile home 8×28 that was built in Grand Saline,TX . I believe that this was a division of Stewart Coach Industries, from Bristol, IN, as it was Stewart F. Gardner that opened the manufacturing plant in 1954 . I have learned that they produced two story models in 1955 and 1956 . I think that a fire destroyed the plant in 1956. Do you know how I can find additional information? I have tried everything I can think of on the internet
    Thank you

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