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While our editors traverse the country to find the best content for those magazines, we find other oddities related to the old-car hobby that we really had no place for - until now. With this blog, we're giving you a behind-the-scenes look at what we see and what we do during the course of putting out some of the finest automotive magazines you'll ever read.

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The Accommodator Put a Space-Age Spin on Piggyback Campers, But Where is it Now?

Posted September 23, 2021 5:00 AM by dstrohl
Pathfinder Tags: chevrolet Kingswood

The Accommodator was not a ground-breaking idea. At least a few piggyback campers built for station wagons (in a vein similar to the pickup bed insert campers) had come before it, in their own attempts to revolutionize the outdoor recreation industry. Nor was it completely without its merits, and likely could have succeeded in getting siblings to ceaselessly fight over who got to sleep where on camping trips. However, the reason it didn't succeed - and who originated it - remain mysteries 50 years after it was conceived.

Reader Bryce Frey recently sent us an Accommodator brochure - really just a two-sided glossy handout - extolling the virtues of the camper, dated 1970. Offered by Mann-Made Enterprises out of Addison, Illinois, the Accommodator was 270-pound fiberglass unit that rested on a station wagon's open tailgate and clamped to the rain gutters. The brochure shows it painted and trimmed to match a 1970 Chevrolet Kingswood Estate, but Mann-Made claimed it could be made to fit most station wagons and painted any color.

The claims in the brochure were numerous: "Very slight or no additional gas consumption is noticed" thanks to the Accommodator's "very low wind resistance which enables (it) to be driven at high speeds;" it "will outlast any station wagon;" and its mounting system "seals weather tight." Mann-Made pointed out that, unlike a camper, the Accommodator could be easily detached for car-only roaming, but at the same time the Accommodator didn't require the hassle and added costs of a separate trailer. It could even come with a portable toilet, propane-fired hot plate, wash basin for all the necessities, and a trailer hitch should one need to bring along a canned ham.

Given that it looks like a giant fin from the side view, and what little weight there is to it almost entirely hangs aft of the rear axle, I don't know about driving it at high speeds in any sort of crosswind. The offset rear door probably helps in packaging - no interior photos were included, so we can't be sure on that - but it also would restrict rearward visibility. That said, it has those late Sixties sci-fi looks and would certainly be more comfortable than sleeping in a tent.

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#1

Re: The Accommodator Put a Space-Age Spin on Piggyback Campers, But Where is it Now?

09/23/2021 3:31 PM

And no doubt there was a suspension upgrade to suit the add weight, as once loaded that suspension would be bottoming out on every bump, when moving. But clever thinking.

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#2

Re: The Accommodator Put a Space-Age Spin on Piggyback Campers, But Where is it Now?

09/23/2021 4:33 PM

Wow. I missed this one. Just as well.

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Re: The Accommodator Put a Space-Age Spin on Piggyback Campers, But Where is it Now?

09/23/2021 8:09 PM

. . . and apparently Clark missed it too.

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#4

Re: The Accommodator Put a Space-Age Spin on Piggyback Campers, But Where is it Now?

09/25/2021 5:37 AM

Probably could pull wheelies in that....

Prototype...

Just get a van.....

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Re: The Accommodator Put a Space-Age Spin on Piggyback Campers, But Where is it Now?

09/25/2021 6:28 AM

If you get a van someone will redesign the roof and make it pop up and that could become the new rage. It could be known as a 'car-a-van'. How cool would that be?

I had better upgrade my Bajaj with a tow hook.

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#6

Re: The Accommodator Put a Space-Age Spin on Piggyback Campers, But Where is it Now?

09/25/2021 11:27 AM

Everything was fine until I pulled into the garage...

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