One of the best-known camp cars was the Lamsteed Kampcar, designed by Samuel Lambert of St. Louis, Missouri. Lambert is best known because of his namesake, the Lambert Pharmaceutical Company, which manufactured, among other things, Listerine Mouthwash.
Lambert was an avid outdoorsman and saw a need for a camp car that was accessible to the general public. His creation sold for $535, and the advertising claimed that it could be attached to the Model T frame in six hours. Amenities of the Kampcar included seating for six, sleeping for four adults, a folding table, two-burner stove, eight-gallon water tank and ample storage lockers. Also included was a complete camping set with camping supplies and eating utensils.
Apparently Lambert needed to attend to other duties and when it became time to put his camp car into full production and on the market, he turned his creation over to another company based in St. Louis, Anheuser-Busch, whose beer production had been halted by Prohibition.
Anheuser-Busch had turned to manufacturing vehicles, including wagons, truck bodies and now the Lamsteed Kampcar. Records are a bit sketchy, but it is said that the Kampcar was produced from 1915 to 1933, and that Anheuser-Busch manufactured units from 1921 to 1931. The Kampcar’s long run may be due to its advertising literature, which celebrated the romance of the road and the virtues of the outdoor lifestyle:
“Make this the kind of a vacation you’ve always dreamed about—enjoy the splendor of Yellowstone, the majesty of the Grand Canyon, visit balmy Palm Beach or the great North Woods. Go anywhere you wish—on your own schedule, over your own railroad system in your own private car, stopping at your own hotel, eating your own cooking at your own table—all in great comfort and at a price you can easily afford.”
Only two intact, complete Lamsteed Kampcars are known to exist. This one, mounted on a 1921 Ford Model T, was photographed at the National Automobile Museum in Reno, Nevada.
Douglas Keister’s new book, Mobile Mansions, will be published by Gibbs Smith Publisher in the spring of 2006. If you have a unique motorhome, e-mail a photo to firstname.lastname@example.org. Doug is also the author of Ready to Roll: A Celebration of the Classic American Travel Trailer and Silver Palaces: America’s Streamline Trailers. Personalized autographed copies are available from Doug. You can reach him at the e-mail address above.