EDITOR’S NOTE: For all the “firsts” Liberty brought to the Prevost conversion industry over the decades, the introduction of slideout wasn’t one of them – and for good reason. Read more in this post on the dawn of the slide era.
Slideouts first started appearing in Class A RVs in the 1990s, but the technology had been around much, much longer. According to this article in RV Travel magazine, the first trailer slideout arrived way back in 1915, when San Francisco camper builder Gustav Bretteville introduced his wonderfully named “Automobile Telescoping Apartment.”
The first power slideouts came in the ‘90s, first to fifth wheel trailers, then to Class A motorhomes. The new feature proved immediately popular and soon manufacturers were rushing their own versions to market, including inevitably a number of Prevost convertors.
Why wasn’t Liberty Coach among them? Frank Konigseder Jr. explains:
“The first convertors to introduce slide rooms were using third party companies to do their installations, and there were major issues, primarily with weight distribution. In some cases, the problem was so severe that you literally couldn’t turn the steering wheel while the coach was parked.”
The issues became so prevalent that Prevost ended warranty coverage for coaches with third-party slide installations while working to finalize their own slideout design. Liberty opted to wait for the finished product, which Prevost released in time for the 2001 model year.
It proved well worth the wait.
The first Liberty slide model, Coach #487, was built on a Prevost XLII equipped with a factory-installed slide room that added nearly 3 feet to the width of the main living area. The single-slide configuration would dominate production over the next two years as customers responded overwhelmingly to the new roomier layout.
Interestingly, Liberty’s approach to interior design was largely unaffected by the new configuration. “We made very few changes, since the slide really didn’t add any more useable space to the furniture footprint,” interior designer Kim Konigseder recalls. “We used the same size couches as well as dinette and galley designs.” They did begin to incorporate lighter weight materials in many furnishings, Kim notes; and when a second slide was introduced a little more than a year later, the rear bedroom area was entirely reconfigured.
But there’s no question that the introduction of the slide room marked a major step forward in the evolution of coach design, for Prevost convertors in general and Liberty Coach in particular.