History of Lazy Daze
In the early 50's, two Pomona High School shop teachers, Paul Newton and Harold Hamm, started building truck campers for themselves and soon friends were asking them to build more for them. Thus was born Newham Industries. They built their first campers at home in the evenings and on week-ends. Eventually they quit teaching and started building campers full time.
Harold Hamm died suddenly, probably in the early 60's. After this, Paul asked his brother Ed Newton to join the company. Ed was already a successful businessman selling produce in the southland. Ed brought needed business capability into the company (Paul was the camping member of the family). Thus the birth of Lazy Daze as we know it. Paul was the creative genius behind the many LD features: coach appearance/design, paint scheme, floor plans, large windows; Ed, with his degree in economics, developed a business plan. He said they would never finance; never have RV companies sell LDs and never build a slide out.
For the first few years LD produced slide-in truck campers. In 1964 they advanced the pickup truck concept by building “house cars” on pickup truck chassis with the truck bed removed.
A couple years later Ed gets the credit for the idea of cutting down a standard van and building a camper body on that. This is generally considered to be the birth of the Class C. In those days the Newtons had to literally cut-away the body of the van from behind the seats rearward. (I wonder how they disposed of all that scrap metal?) The second Class C they built in 1966 is on display in the LD showroom today. It seems pretty tiny by today’s standards, measuring only 16 feet in length.
At one point there was a falling out in the company, Ed left and begin building Robin Hood motor homes (some where around 1975). Current LD’er Dave Nordstrom recalls commenting to Paul about the similarities of Lazy Daze to Robin Hood coaches when he was researching/buying his first Lazy Daze from the factory. Paul pretty much dismissed them out of hand as lacking in quality and design. Eventually the brothers got back together (at least by 1989 when Dave bought his second LD from them). On this '75 Robin Hood, one can see the same type of aluminum siding that is used on LD's.
A few years later the Robin Hood's over-cab area had been redesigned, resulting in a cleaner look.
In 1985-1986 the Newton’s decided to tackle the Class A market. They constructed a motorhome with the goal of producing a Class A (below) that would sell for under $50,000. This effort was not fruitful from the financial point of view and only one was built.
In subsequent years, the Newtons tried twice to develop a motorhome on a heavier chassis for full-timers: in 2003-2004 they built a prototype motorhome on the Ford E-550 chassis. About the time they finished it, Ford discontinued production of the chassis.
Trying again in 2008-2009 they built three 32’ rigs on the Kodiak chassis. Again they got burned when Kodiak went out of production.
The Lazy Daze Caravan Club
Back in the 1950’s a group of 8 LD’ers got together for a weekend in the desert of southern California. Sitting around the campfire the idea of forming a group to promote the camaraderie of camping and LD ownership was bandied about. Some time later a group of about 20 LD owners met to form the Lazy Daze Caravan Club, with Paul Newton as the first Wagonmaster. The group is still going strong and in 2006 hosted the massive 50th anniversary Get Together in Cheyenne, WY, attended by over 300 Lazy Daze owners. To learn more about the Caravan Club, visit its web site at: http://lazydazecaravanclub.org/index.html
An interesting part of the LD history is the slow, incremental changes and improvements to the product. The Newtons have historically been slow to adapt to newer technologies, although that is changing a bit under Steve’s stewardship. We’ve seen the incorporation of LED exterior lights and AGM batteries, for example.
But we've never seen a slide-out model from the Mothership; however, that did not stop one LD owner who wanted a slide and had one custom made for his/her 23.5 LD.
Andy Baird has compiled a great list of LD changes by model year, which can be found at:
Some sidelights to the Lazy Daze story:
Back in the 1950’s there was another slide-in camper, the Dreamer, being built just a few blocks down the street from the Lazy Daze factory. There has been some speculation whether Dreamer was a Lazy Daze product, but the answer is no. The Dreamer company was founded by Robert Coons. On the left is an old photo of a Dreamer; on the right is a more recent picture of someone adapting a Dreamer camper to an old International truck chassis.
Here’s another interesting story - the Dale Housecar. In the early 60’s Dale Wasinger began building house-cars on the chassis of regular automobiles. He’d cut the auto chassis behind the driver’s seat and weld the front portion to the rear two-thirds of a Chevy ¾ ton pickup chassis. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 52 to 56 of the Great Dale Housecars were built between 1961 and 1966. Might the Newton’s have been inspired by Wasinger’s vehicles (if they even knew about them)? WxToad spotted this one at Wells SP in MA in 2010.
Here’s a link to some great photos of early RV’s:
For more history on RV’s, a visit to the RV Museum and Hall Fame in Elkhart IN is highly recommended.
Here's an interesting article about Ed Newton and his Lazy Daze philosophy that appeared in the Summer 2005 issue of La Verne magazine.
If anyone has any additions or corrections to this article, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org
Compiled by WxToad
Contributors: Dick, Joan Taylor, Linda Hylton, Steve S., Larry Wade, Gene in Sanford, Gale, Dave, Art, Betty Jean, Chris Horst, WxToad, Andy Baird, Dave Nordstrom
Revised 23 Sep 2012