‘Barthers’ Marking 50th Anniversary with Rally

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May 27, 2014 by   Comments Off on ‘Barthers’ Marking 50th Anniversary with Rally

Vintage Barth motorhome

Vintage Barth motorhome

Final preparations are underway by the Barth RV owners club, which is welcoming 40-some “Barthers” to a 50th anniversary rally May 29-June 1 at the Elkhart County Fairgrounds in Goshen, Ind.

First launched in 1964 as a travel trailer company, Barth motorhomes were built and marketed from 1969 to 1998 by Barth Motor Co. in Milford, Ind., which became known as one of the nation’s leading motorized RV builders under the guiding hand of Hoosier entrepreneur Mike Umbaugh.

Assembled on Chevrolet and Regency chassis and prized for their clean exterior styling, Barths retailed for $45,000 to $260,000 in 1986, and cultivated a loyal audience of owners over the years. 

“They started out building travel trailers in 1964, so 50 years later we’re ready for a 50th anniversary rally, get-together and celebration,” said Lou Thierwechter, a Barther from Allegan, Mich., noting that more than 40 Barth owners had signed up for the event.

“We have comments on the website coming in from Barth owners and friends all the time stating how much they’re looking forward to this get-together,” said rally organizer Steve VanWestenburg. “It’s shaping up to be an exciting event and we want family members and former employees to share the moment.”

Anyone living in Milford or the surrounding area who worked at the Barth factory, or is directly related to someone who did, is invited to pay a visit to the Elkhart County Fairgrounds on May 31 at noon, so Barthers can welcome them to the event. A barbecue lunch will be provided. People are encouraged to bring original pictures or literature that they may have of the factory or the various Barths models produced.

Thierwechter said at a previous rally, a former Barth employee showed up and stole the show. The former welder toured the Barth RVs and pointed out which welds he had applied on the assembly line.

“They are well respected for their structural integrity,” Thierwechter said. “I have a 1993 Barth. It was built on a steel frame made by Spartan, a 230-hp Cummins engine and a six-speed Allison transmission. So, even though there are no more Barths being made, they’re made of parts that are still in production so they’re very easily maintained – not necessarily financially, but it’s easy enough to find someone to work on them.”

Anyone wishing to attend should contact Thierwechter (269-673-2874;, who will compile contact information in order to send each registrant a personal invitation and to make sure they receive any updated information about the get-together.

For more information, visit the Barthers’ website.

— Submitted by Rick Kessler exclusive to




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