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From the mid-1960s until the oil embargo of 1973-’74, the motorhome industry was riding an unprecedented wave of popularity. And, with a few notable exceptions, all vehicles boasted the aerodynamics of a brick.
Then a couple of “car guys” got involved.
The son of William S. Knudsen, president of General Motors in the late ‘30s, Semon “Bunkie” Knudsen seemed destined to follow in his father’s footsteps. However, after stints as general manager for GM’s Pontiac and Chevrolet divisions, the car company he ran as president wasn’t GM. It was Ford. But it was during his time at GM that Knudsen became acquainted with Larry Shinoda, the legendary designer best known for his work on the 1963 Corvette split-window coupe; later at Ford, the duo worked together on the Boss 302 Mustang. When Knudsen was replaced by Lee Iacocca in 1970, the executive and designer collaborated on one more project: the Discoverer 25.
While the sleek vehicle incorporated the Dodge front cab normally seen on a contemporary Class C coach, it also sported new streamlined nose and body panels which eliminated the front doors. From the front door pillars, the fiberglass design flared out and up, integrating tinted window panels to create an airy interior. The first Discoverer coaches, with an MSRP of $13,880, went into production in 1970, built under the Rectrans nameplate, a division of the venerable White Motor Corp. Rectrans only survived a handful of years before it was absorbed by White, which itself went into bankruptcy in 1980.