Motorhome Classic: 1952 Mid-States Executive Flagship – Livin’ Large in the Fifties…

CC readers may remember Robin Leach and his 80’s TV program “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”.  If Robin had been around a few decades earlier he no doubt would have profiled Mid-States Corporation President William B. McDonald.  In the 1950’s, Chicago-based Mid-States was the largest manufacturer of mobile homes in the US, marketing them under brand names such as Duo, Elcar, Star, Kozy, National, Pan-American, and Terra Crusier.  As company President, McDonald had both the authority and leeway to design a mobile home that best suited his somewhat elevated needs – while at the same time serving as a demonstrator and concept vehicle, similar to the “dream” cars so popular during that era.  Thus was born the Executive Flagship.

And it’s clear McDonald certainly had lofty ambitions.  His Executive Flagship was gargantuan – even by today’s standards.  Sixty-five feet in length, composed of a large prime mover and a separate mobile home, permanently connected by a fifth wheel.  Total weight was eighteen tons.  It required special road permits to travel in most states.  Its construction was similar to motor homes of the day – a steel frame enclosed in aluminum.

Engine information is limited, but one article did say it had a “128 hp International”, which would likely make it a version of the company’s Super Red Diamond gas OHV inline six, perhaps a 406 or 450.  Transmission was a five-speed manual with a two-speed rear end.  One would imagine the driver needed all ten of those gears.

Upper Patio Deck Looking Forward


Main Living/Work Area Looking Rearward


The twenty-six foot wheelbase tractor had bunk beds for the driver(s), a bathroom, and a kitchen.

The thirty-two foot wheelbase living section had a separate bathroom, a bar, a dining area/patio on the roof, and a large living/work area below with rail-car observation-type windows.  The semi-circular couch could turn into beds for sleeping.

The long upper roof could serve as a sun deck/outdoor patio, but was also strong enough to act as a light helicopter landing pad.  A six foot deep semi-rigid pool was also included that could be erected at the rear for those executive pool parties.  A diving board pulled out of the roof.  Lifestyles of the rich and famous indeed.

So, what ever happened to this super-sized land yacht?  Unfortunately it appears to have disappeared…the Mid-States Corp went out of business decades ago and no one knows what became of the Flagship or if it still exists.  What a loss, just like GM’s turbine Firebirds, Ford’s Mystere, or Chrysler’s Ghia Specials, it deserves preservation in a museum for those of us today to marvel at and enjoy.