Car and Driver Takes a Tour of Newell Coach
The following is an overview of Miami, Okla.-based high-end motorhome builder Newell Coach Corp. authored by John Phillips of Car and Driver.
Makes sense that the world’s fanciest motorhomes would be constructed in Miami, right? Miami it is, only this Miami is in Oklahoma, where, as Keke Rosberg once observed, “the beaches are not so good.” Still, celebrities and pro drivers flock here in scores, dropping $50 million annually at the 120,000-square-foot Newell Coach factory, founded in 1967 by L.K. Newell.
The plant abuts a statue of the region’s most famous son, Mickey Charles Mantle. “A great teammate,” the inscription reads. If the Mick had kept every dime he was paid to swing bats professionally for his 18-year career, he’d have possessed $1,123,000. Today, the cheapest Newell fetches $1,355,000.
The company produces 24 coaches annually—20 for customers, four as demonstrators. The average transaction price is $1.6 million, but a heavily optioned version—such as Roger Penske’s—can easily bang hard against $2 mil. Each 45-foot-long Newell requires six months to construct, assembled by 165 workers who fabricate nearly everything in-house, save the engines and transmissions.
In the preceding 44 years, Newell has built 1341 coaches, no two identical. “One thousand are certainly still on the road,” says company president Karl Blade, who has subscribed to C/D for 55 years. “I can’t prove this,” he adds, “but I think a Newell coach represents the lowest-unit-production, road-legal vehicle in the world.” Maybe, maybe not. What we do know is that every 12 inches of an average Newell costs more than a Nissan 370Z.
Newell owners have won 27 Indianapolis 500s—more than a quarter of all such races run. That’s a lot of spilled milk. Random owners whose surnames you’ll recognize: Penske, Kenseth, Johnson, Ganassi, Speed, Waltrip (two of them), Rutherford, Spencer, Unser (three of them), Rahal, Montoya, Villeneuve, Button, Barrichello, Andretti, Scheckter, Franchitti, Tracy, Earnhardt (two of them). And lots more.
A Newell was even ordered by Dodi Fayed, who hoped to drive it to North American movie sets, but then he and the princess came a cropper in Paris. Blade thus shipped Fayed’s coach, left-hand drive and all, to London, where it presumably still collects British dust in Harrods’ fleet.
One Newell customer owns a pet cheetah. “When he shows up to have his rig serviced, he often walks the thing,” says Blade. “So I call the neighbors and say, ‘Now’d be a good time to bring in your dog.’ ” Click here to view the entire article.