Today in 1958, the Washington Post reported on a way to transform a Ford station wagon into a full-service campsite with the push of a button!

Decades before hipsters with Instagram accounts started outfitting cargo vans with mattresses, teams at Ford were imagining the possibilities of a Country Squire station wagon in an age when outdoor recreation was a big deal.

This was the year that the owner of a trailer manufacturer, Raymond C. Frank, introduced the term “motorhome” to the world.

The Ford project took a slightly different approach.

Rather than building a car that you could live in, the “pushbutton camper” could transform from standard station wagon into a campsite mode.

The roof was home to a boat, which could be automatically lowered over the side of the car.

And underneath that was a shower head and curtain, plus a tent with a double bed.

There was space inside the car for two more people to sleep (I guess a family of five or six would have to take turns resting?).

The tailgate had room for a small but pretty functional kitchen, which included a fridge, a stove, counters and a sink.

There was even a button you could push to put a sunshade up over the kitchenette on really hot and bright days.

This was only ever a concept car; it never went up on the market.

Ford tried it out, showed it off to the world, and suggested maybe if there was enough demand they could partner with independent companies, which would outfit their wagons with the pushbutton equipment.

But that’s as far as it went.

RVs and motorhomes wound up filling that consumer demand.

But the Transformers franchise is really missing an opportunity here.

Why isn’t there an Autobot that can turn into a campsite for their human pals?

This weekend in Congham, Norfolk, England, the World Snail Racing Championships.

Participants start in a small inner circle on top of a round table, and they have to move a couple feet away to a larger outer circle that’s been “greased” with cucumber, to attract them.

But because they’re snails, it takes them like three or four minutes to get there!

The 1959 Ford Country Squire Camper, the Pushbutton Dream Camper That Never Was (Auto Evolution)


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Photo by Thomas Hawk via Flickr/Creative Commons