LIKE MANY fairy tales, this story begins with a 1947 Tatra T87 automobile. In 2000, tech entrepreneurs John Long and Helena Mitchell took his Czech-built, Streamline Moderne automobile on a circumnavigation of North America, starting in Toronto. “As one does,” he said with a laugh.
Upon returning home, Ms. Mitchell noted that next time she would like to have a travel trailer. Apparently, you don’t say these things to Mr. Long without consequences. Three months later, he announced he had found the perfect travel trailer to pull behind a Tatra.
And he did: A 1935 Bowlus Road Chief, #149, built in San Fernando, Calif., by the company and family of William Hawley Bowlus. The designer of record for Charles Lindbergh’s “Spirit of St. Louis,” Mr. Bowlus sold about 80 trailers of his own design—rivet-skinned and mirror-bright, sleek with American optimism—before the Depression took its toll. Though later eclipsed in reputation by Airstream, Bowlus was the first aluminum-skinned travel-trailer company. About half of those made survive today.