Lloyd Bridges Traveland Family History
It’s no surprise that the birthplace of the Motor Home was engineered right down the road from the Motor City, Detroit Michigan. What might be a surprise is that Lloyd Bridges had a big hand in that development
Our father Lloyd Bridges was a large Dodge car and truck dealer in the early 1960’s, located in Walled Lake Michigan. Lloyd Bridges Traveland was founded in May of 1966 also at the same location. At that time we sold Holiday Rambler Travel Trailers and Mackinaw slide in truck campers. We remember our father telling us in ’66 you could purchase a new 3/4 ton Dodge truck with a 10′ Mackinaw truck camper hooked up and ready to go for $4,900.
The Birth of the House Car
In 1967, Ray Frank, a farmer/engineer, from Brown City, Michigan wanted to provide a better way for his family to travel. Travel trailers carried a generic name of “House Cars”. By early 1967 Ray Frank had engineered and incorporated a “House Car” on a large Dodge Truck chassis in his barn in Brown City, Michigan. Afterward he went to Chrysler Corporation and explained how he engineered a “House Car” on a Dodge chassis and wanted to buy 100 truck chassis to build the worlds first production Motor Home. At that time Chrysler Corporation did not have what they called pools, where a manufacturer delivers large amounts of raw chassis to a RV manufacturer for bodies to be built on. They told Mr. Frank they could not sell him Dodge chassis direct and that he had to go through truck dealer. Ray Frank asked the people at Chrysler Corporation who the largest truck dealer was in the area and they said to go see Lloyd Bridges in Walled Lake. So he went and talked to our dad about who he was and what he wanted to do. Our father sold him 100 truck chassis to build the world’s first production motor home; it was called the Dodge Motor Home, Lloyd Bridges bought some and the rest is motorhome history.
Lloyd Bridges Traveland picked up speed in the late 60’s when the Dodge Motorhome became the Travco Motorhome, designed by Ray Frank, a molded fiberglass body 27 feet long powered by a Dodge 318 v8 engine. Travco’s were considered the most luxurious motor home of the times and sold for $13,000. Ray Frank also designed the Explorer motor home which our father sold. This was a 21′ aero dynamic fiberglass, self contained motor home built on a 1 ton Dodge van. It was designed to sleep up to 4 people and sold for $6,900. Our father also sold Champion Motorhomes that sold for $6,599. In 1969, our father was one of the top 10 Dodge truck dealers in the United States and the number 1 Travco and Champion Motorhome dealer in the U.S. In 1972, we moved our operation from Walled Lake to our current location in Chelsea, Michigan where we developed a Chevrolet franchise and continued to sell motor homes and trailers.
In 1980, Jerry Bridges joined the business and in 1982 his brother Charlie joined as well. In 1986 Lloyd Bridges Traveland took on a Cobra Motorhome franchise, we remained Cobra’s #1 dealer until they sold out in 1995.
A Big Dealer doing Business in a Small Town Way
Today after over 40 years of helping thousands of people’s dreams come true, we represent 7 of the top 10 manufacturers, with over 26 brand names on 10 acres and over 300 motorhomes, travel trailer, fifth wheel, truck campers and tent campers to choose from new and used. We are a big dealer that enjoys doing business in a small town way. We feel strongly about service being the back bone of our business that Charlie Bridges spends every day of his working life overseeing the parts and service departments, while Jerry Bridges oversees the sales and administration. This way if needed our customers can always speak to one of the owner and we’ll keep you a happy camper.