I am so charmed by the often whimsical designs of both vintage and modern bowtop wagons, or more romantically, vardos.
A vardo, according to Wikipedia, is:
“A vardo is a traditional horse-drawn wagon used by British Romani people as their home. Possessing a chimney, it is commonly thought of as being highly decorated, intricately carved, brightly painted, and even gilded. The British Romani tradition of the vardo is seen as a high cultural point of both artistic design and a masterpiece of woodcrafters art. The heyday of the living wagon lasted for roughly 70 years, from the mid-1800s through the first two decades of the twentieth century.”
The design of Vardos, and their rich, layered history as the chosen home of gypsies is just a little more interesting than that of the double wides of the Okefenokee Swamp Trailer (um, RV) Park.
‘One half of it…was carpeted, and so partitioned off at the further end as to accommodate a sleeping-place, constructed after the fashion of a berth on board ship, which was shaded, like the windows, with fair white curtains… The other half served for a kitchen, and was fitted up with a stove whose small chimney passed through the roof. It also held a closet or larder, several chests, a great pitcher of water, and a few cooking-utensils and articles of crockery. These latter necessaries hung upon the walls, which in that portion of the establishment devoted to the lady of the caravan, were ornamented with such gayer and lighter decorations as a triangle and a couple of well-thumbed tambourines.”
If you poke around the web, you’ll find many references to manufacturers and DIY instructions. My favorites are currently made in the UK, by Greg’s Gypsy Bowtop Caravans – his site is where I found “Whoppie Wagons” – so he gets bonus point for that.
I was considering parking a teardrop Airstream in the backyard to use as a guest room, but now I’m thinking something like this might be more interesting and perhaps just a bit more irritating for our pink flamingo hating neighbors. Not you, you’re cool, and have the good sense to read our blog.