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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The meaning of "fifth wheel" in the 1950s

Admit it. You've always wondered why a trailer with two or four wheels of its own is called a "fifth wheel", right? Still, we know what it means. It's an RV travel trailer that is towed from the bed of a pickup truck or a truck tractor, allowing for more driving stability and interior space. But there was a time when the term "fifth wheel" was relatively unheard of and much more literal.

Check this out. And then you might be wondering why what seems like a great idea didn't go into mass production.


  1. Made a trip to the RV museum in Elkhart earlier this year. There they said the term 5th wheel originated early in the 20th century. The spare tire (or the fifth wheel) was stored on a pin on the outside rear of the car. A towable camper was developed that attached to the pin where the spare tire was hung. The trailer thus replaced the fifth wheel (spare) of the car and acquired the name fifth wheel.

  2. I've gotta agree with George....this has nothing to do with a Fifth Wheel RV....and I like his response better. they may want to call it a Fifth Wheel, but it's sure not RV related!

    Still, a very interesting attachment to a car, and there were other videos that showed the same thing on smaller French cars too.


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