The ‘Eyebrow’ Winnebago
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Few RV enthusiasts today know that Winnebago — the exclusively motorized brand that has become so firmly lodged into the lexicon that it’s used to generically describe recreational vehicles in general — actually began life as a travel trailer manufacturer. It wasn’t until 1966 that the first Winnebago to move under its own power left the assembly line.
By January 1967, Winnebago was advertising “America’s first family of motorhomes” — five boxy models from 16 to 27 feet, all of which sported the distinctive “eyebrow” vee above the slightly canted, split front windshield. The eyebrow was actually a necessary addition to the motorhome’s design — it was home to a foldaway crosstop bunk when not in use — but came to be one of the early Winnebago’s most familiar features.
Other Winnebago lines, from the Renegade and the Indian through the Chieftain and Brave, would continue those same familiar lines. Newer coaches would soften the “eyebrow” and the grille would finally become more refined, but the squared-off, snub-nosed silhouette became the most recognizable shape in the industry. By 1970, Winnebago claimed that its D-22 Indian model outsold — by itself — the entire production of any other motorhome brand. As noted in a test of a D-24 in the November 1970 issue of Trailer Life, “If you fall down in a motorhome park, chances are you’ll hit a Winnebago.”