Airstream Alternative: 1936 Pierce-Arrow Travelodge

At one point in its history, with sales of its expensive touring cars slowing, the Pierce-Arrow company began to manufacture the Travelodge Travel Trailer. Meant to be a home away from home, it was not the savior the company hoped for and just 450 were made. This example has been home to (I’m not kidding) a gypsy lounge of sorts but is now available here on eBay with bidding approaching $3K and the reserve unmet. If you own an original Pierce-Arrow automobile, I sure hope you’re bidding. 

I say that because this is effectively the ultimate accessory. Built like only a company like Pierce-Arrow could build, the Travelodge featured all-steel framework, double-seam riveted 18-gauge aluminum skin, full insulation, and independent suspension, all purported to be built to the “…latest methods of airplane construction.” Perhaps that’s why this Travelodge has survived so well despite being made into a home for gypsies belonging to a traveling roadshow. The cargo compartment added to the rear was not a factory feature.

Inside, you can see the remnants of its past inhabitants, but it’s actually not as terrifying as I’d expect. The original design featured plywood paneling throughout; hard to tell if any of that is left. I’m also not sure whether the benches are standard equipment or added later, but they at least appear to be useful. There’s so many ways to convert a travel trailer like this, but I do hope it returns to the original specifications as designed by Pierce-Arrow; with so few left, a sympathetic restoration is a must.

Image courtesy of TheOldMotor.com

This photo shows the ultimate configuration for the aspiring Pierce-Arrow owner in 1937: a V12 limousine pulling a fully-restored Travelodge. Seriously, that is one of the most beautiful arrangements of a car and trailer I have ever seen. Undoubtedly, there are some P/A enthusiasts bidding on this Travelodge and I hope it ultimately ends up in an arrangement such as this. What’s a target price for something like this? While Airstreams are easy to put a number on, this Travelodge is a far more exclusive option for the camping enthusiast who has everything.

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Comments

  1. Rodney

    “The Aluminum Twinkie”
    (A failed marketing campaign…)

  2. Beatnik Bedouin

    Now that’s cool, Jeff! Just sent the link to a buddy of mine who’s looking for a vintage trailer.

  3. JW

    I see a conversion to a traveling strip club, even already has a pole for dancing. Just kidding, these must be rare as I’ve never seen one before but I’ve always been told to avoid the gypsy crowd and hippie communes.

    • CanuckCarGuy

      I must admit @JW, I had the same thought when I saw the pole and the leather chair…a traveling Gentlemen’s club, touring mobile parks.

    • glen

      What’s a strip club?

      • Al

        That’s where they sand, prime then paint old rust. You should know that!

      • JW

        @glen if you have to ask it’s better you don’t know.

      • glen

        JW, I’m kidding! Good one Al.

  4. Ken Carney

    Correct me if I’m mistaken, but hasn’t this camper been on YouTube? Whether or not it has is not as important as the cool factor that’s just
    oozing out of it. Were it mine, I would indeed restore it back to livable
    condition while adding ammenities such as electricity and a solar generator
    to make said current, and AC for those hot summer days here in Florida.
    What mobile man cave this would make when finished!

  5. Pa Tina

    Were these built in Buffalo? The main building is still standing and there is a great Pierce-Arrow museum in downtown Buffalo. Next time you are in town, check them out.The museum has a replica of a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed gas station on exhibit.

    • Michael S

      Yes. Last dire effort of Buffalo production of the fabled Pierce-Arrow.

  6. LAWRENCE

    This one’s been “Fer Sale” in Texas for awhile now…..think it was in Houston the last time it was on CL.

  7. glen

    A limo pulling a trailer, that’s a first. I wonder how many people that are chauffeur-driven, go camping?

    1
    • RingLing-A-Trailer

      I did see a Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud pulling a U-Haul trailer once, and I used to have a 1956 Bentley Radford – from the outside it looked like any other Bentley but the seats folded down to make a bed, a picnic table folded out from the trunk over the rear bumper, and stools for sitting snapped into the bumper over-riders. A water container and wash basin finished the camping accouterments of my car.

      • Michael S

        Please educate all about Harold Radford; both his efforts during WWII for Britian, as well as his post war accessories for the “landed gentry” set owners of Proper Motor Cars and little Mini Travelers. Did yours also have the electric shaver?

    • Dghberkley

      Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and Harvey Firestone often went camping. May not have been chauffeured, but had an entourage.

  8. Coventrycat

    That pic with the V12 and trailer is car porn. Thanks!

    • JimmyinTEXAS

      Looks like the trailer has been blued. It is pretty hot.

  9. Mike B

    You can see a great example at the Nethercutt Museum in Sylmar, CA.

    • Michael S

      The restored example pictured, with the “PA” vanity plate, is the very same. I fell in awe of the Pierce Arrow Model A Travelodge at the Nethercutt Museum. It is truly a shame all the glorious woodwork and detailed interior is gone. The detailed reminded me of a Private Train Car. True luxury as Americans took to the highways.

    • Mark J. Soderberg

      Yes, it had all the comforts of home. In a strange configuration. Also liked the PT boat motor just down from this!

  10. Mike

    Gut the shabby chic DIY interior and start over with something closer to 30’s vintage. Not sure what to do with the bustle.

  11. Roach Cleatus Sargum

    I am noticing the front frame and connection seems thin.. This seems to need reinforcements as when this was created cars were not driving 75 and up in speed.

    Just would hate to this break free and get plowed on a interstate ☹️

  12. Rex Kahrs Member

    I wonder if the roof leaks on that Frank Lloyd Wright gas station replica.

    • Classic Steel

      Cool seel fixes everything ✅

      Where can one get asbestos to fix insulation to original specs? 😂😂😂🤣

    • Pa Tina

      Seeing how it is inside the museum that could be a major issue!

    • Bill McCoskey

      If he designed the Gas Station, then it most certainly would be logical & expected to leak, as ALL FLW homes had leaking roofs.

      • Pa Tina

        True. A childhood friend lived in the Darwin Martin House in Buffalo in the early 1960’s. The house was a mess back then. It has been fully restored and is incredible to visit.

  13. leiniedude Member

    Bordello is right. All the way to that cool tin ceiling tile, still see them in old saloons around here. Love that blinker on the left.

  14. Rube Goldberg Member

    Additional research shows, this appears to be a model “C” Travelodge. Doesn’t look like much now, but these were high class. They cost $510 dollars new, or almost $9,000 bucks today. A lot of money considering the cost of a new home in 1936 was $4,100 dollars. The trunk was added at some point, can’t find any images with that on, and clearly, this thing wasn’t pulled far, and must have sat, maybe even inside. Neat find, for sure.

    • Michael S

      I think you mean the biggest, Model A. http://theoldmotor.com/?p=147078

    • Matt A.

      It’s not. It’s a Model B, the middle size, and the biggest seller, apparently, based on the surviving examples. Only a few of the Model C and the Model A still exist, but there are something like 40-45 Model Bs. The Model C was little more than a mobile camping shack, while the Model A actually had a sliding door you could use to close off the back sleeping compartment.

  15. Whippeteer

    None of that interior is original. It probably had mahogany paneling originally.

    • Matt A.

      Gumwood interior veneer over bent plywood for the Model B and Model A. Spruce interior for the Model C, if I recall correctly.

  16. Brad

    Here’s what an original interior looks like, all cleaned up.

    https://www.360cities.net/image/pierce-arrow-trailer-back-1

    • glen

      Fantastic!

  17. Alan

    We call them caravans, and everyone who drives in the U.K. seems to have been stuck behind one, but Top Gear found another use for them, do you have two of them? https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ZtztZz7A4xA

  18. Carguy

    Clive Cussler’s museum in Golden, Colorado, has a Pierce Arrow Car and matching trailer. Beautifully restored.

  19. Alfred

    Nice

  20. Rex Kahrs Member

    Thanks for the picture Brad. That wood looks like Walnut in places, Mahogany in others.

  21. Michael S
    • Matt A.

      You can make long URLs short at bit.ly or tinyurl.com, by the way.

  22. Merrill

    A Travelodge sets abandoned at the extreme northeast corner of Arriba, Colorado in front of the long closed public school, easy to find. It is unaltered externally (still has the “Pierce Arrow Travelodge ” nameplate) but the entire interior is missing. It was probably used for storage in its later years.

    I have been unable to locate an owner; it may be free for the hauling. Check with Arriba town government. I am moving out of state and can no longer pursue. Someone please rescue this jewel!

    Arriba is a very small town about twenty miles east of Limon, Colorado on I-70. Good Luck!

    • M.C.S.

      Do you know the address of the old school? I’m trying to see if I can find the trailer on Google Earth.

      Living in Upstate New York, unfortunately this project is probably too far out of reach for me to consider.

      What a great, rare find! Thanks for sharing!

      • Merrill

        Just focus on the extreme northwest edge of Arriba. The Travelodge is literally at the corner of the last north/south street and the northernmost ease west street.

        The school is a two story brick building surrounded by brush. The Truth sits at the right front of the building.

    • M.C.S.

      Thanks! I think I can see the top of the Travelodge from the “Satellite” view (it doesn’t seem to be present on the “Street View”, which has a 2008 timestamp).

      It seems strange that they would leave such a rare (and potentially valuable) piece of history out in the open like that, so close to the road.

      From what I can see, Arriba looks like a very interesting little town. Lots of neat old vehicles (cars, trucks, tractors, etc.) and buildings can be seen from the Street View.

      Thanks for sharing that information!

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