Editor’s Note: The following article, authored by RVing Examiner reporter Julian Gothard, details the history and cult-like status of the GMC motorhome. For the full story click here.
It’s been over four decades since the first Michael Lathers designed GMC motorhome rolled off the General Motors Truck and Coach Division production line in Pontiac, Mich., but in the intervening period the venerable steel, fiberglass and aluminum-bodied 6-wheeler, with the Toronado powertrain, has assumed something approaching cult status among the RVing fraternity.
Interestingly, although GM had a long history of building coaches and specialist vehicles — like Loewy and Gegoux’s GMC Scenicruiser and Harley Earl’s Futurliner — this was the first time that Alfred P. Sloan’s automotive colossus had ventured into the manufacture, though not the upfitting, of motorhomes. A first not only for GM but for any global automotive manufacturer and a feat that wasn’t emulated by an automaker until Volkswagen began manufacturing its California camper van range — upfitted by Westfalia — in 1988. GM, too, opted to outsource the upfitting of its new motorhome and selected PRF Industries, manufacturer of Travco and Sightseer motorhomes, as its partner in the Gemini facility. In fact, it wasn’t until 1975 that GM, just like VW in 2003, opted to bring the upfitting of its GMC motorhomes in house.
Manufactured in both 23-foot ($13,569) and 26-foot lengths ($14,569), and offered with a choice of six exterior colors, four interior color schemes and fifteen different floor plans, the GMC MotorHome, dubbed the “pie wagon” by the GMC development team, was well-received by RVers when it hit the sales floor of a select handful of GM dealerships in February, 1973. Although other major RV industry manufacturers gave this new “Cadillac of motorhomes” a more muted response, it wasn’t long before industry luminaries like Coachmen, Winnebago and Foretravel — and even the Coca-Cola Company with a special edition GadAbout GMC MotorHome — joined the party.
For the full story click here.
In 1978, the Coca-Cola Co. sponsored a contest and gave away five Coke-themed GMC motorhomes. The owner of one of those collector’s items brought it to the History Channel’s “Pawn Stars” and offered to sell it.
Go to http://youtu.be/udXXg9Z2mnQ to watch a recent episode featuring that unique item.*
* Note: the entire video lasts more than 20 minutes. The intro briefly references the GMC motorhome. Fast-forward to the 2 minute, 53-second mark to watch a 2 minute and 27-second segment on the GMC.
“RV Buddies,” the Internet-based adventure-lifestyle show, has announced the launching of “Project RV,” a series of “webisodes” that will follow the bumper-to-bumper restoration of a classic 1977 GMC 26-foot Royale.
“We’re really excited about this,” said show host Mark Summers in a news release. “Restoring, repairing or upgrading an RV is something most of the 8.2 million RV-owning households have either done, wanted to do or dreamed about doing over the course of their RV ownership. ‘RV Buddies’ wanted to show them how we’d do it — in a way that maintains the integrity of a coach’s original design but updates it to supply the owner with the modern amenities that he or she wants.”
“RV Buddies” selected a very used 1977 GMC 26-foot Royale because it is a true classic with unique design, detailing and engineering features. It is one of 12,921 models GMC built from 1973 to 1978 before deciding to discontinue producing luxury motorhomes to focus on their truck operations.
“It’s a great example of a coach that has good bones but its fine points have suffered from the ravages of time,” Summers said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun for our audience to follow the process.”
Over the next nine months, “RV Buddies” will film and report on Project RV through four phases – demolition, chassis and drive train, interior, and exterior body and paint. Audience members will be able to follow the process through a combination of video and written reports and even email their questions to Summers.
“That’s the beauty of the Internet,” Summers said, “Our audience will be able to interact with us during the project and apply what they learn to their own projects.”
Episodes will air on a weekly basis starting the second week of June.