Motorhome Dateline Articles


>> Motorhome Dateline | October 1971

DETROIT, PONTIAC, MICHIGAN: As reported here last issue, GM is building motorhomes; coaches will roll in 1973. As first rumor firmed up, still more cropped on interesting changes in coaches now in prototype, including some to make driving easier. Watch MHL for developments. . . .

Note: Motorhome Dateline was a column found in the publication, Motorhome Life. (MHL) This magazine later became Motorhome which exists today.


>> Motorhome Dateline | February 1972

DEARBORN, MICH.: GMC Truck and Coach Div. still mum on what or when re their new motorhome.  But sources keep stating that there are prototypes in full shape at the facility.  Meanwhile Dodge Truck General Manager J. W. James, while admitting a motorhome would be a natural for GMC, claims Dodge will stick to supplying chassis.  They delivered 28,000 of these to 50 coach builders in ’71, will say only they are “going to work at keeping lead in this field.”


>> Motorhome Dateline | July 1972

6Chelsea, Mich.: General Motors is bringing out a Motorhome (it’s in prototype as of now, not to be revealed to anyone before a press conference set still some weeks ahead of this writing.) But Dodge has announced that it will NOT produce either a Motorhome or a camper body. Announcement came from George F. Butts, general sales manager of Dodge Trucks, who told a Dodge dealer advisory committee that “the role of Dodge Truck in the RV market is to produce the best Motorhome chassis, vans and pickup trucks available.” The company will extend RV service; they’ve established an RV branch of their truck service department, will have close to 300 service centers around the country by the end of the year, have also begun operating a fleet of mobile RV service vans.

Photo to right…GM called these A-Scale which was 1”= 8”, or 1/8 scale. This Clay Model was one of the first renderings of the future GMC Motorhome. Check out the other renderings on the board behind the model. A full size front-end view can be seen on the back wall.


>> Motorhome Dateline | August 1972

TWO NEW MOTORHOMES
GMC Unveils Motorhome Prototype

Long awaited front wheel drive coaches from automotive giant available in 1973.

By Ken Kelly

With the introduction of the all-new 26-foot Motorhome prototype late in May, GMC Truck and Coach Division of General Motors became the first major automotive manufacturer with plans to market a motorhome with their name attached to it.

The motorhomes will be built on a specialized multi-purpose chassis, which has a pair of axles in the rear and features front wheel drive. The body is fiber glass and aluminum and displays wide expanses of glass and aerodynamic styling.

GMC is starting with two models: a 23-footer and a 26-footer in the 10,500-pound g.v.w. class. The prototype 26-footer was first shown to the public at the International Transportation Exposition in Washington.

Martin J. Caserio, GMC general manager, has said that the division’s goal is to offer medium priced motorhomes at $12,000-$14,000 for fully self-contained unit.

2

GMC Truck and Coach Division of General Motors recently unveiled its 26-foot motorhome prototype to be marketed by early 1973 through GM car and truck dealers who will provide single-stop service and warranty responsibility for the complete vehicle.

GMC will make most of the motorhome and handle all sales and service functions. But interiors will be produced by a company with deep roots in the RV field. Once the motorhome bodies have been installed on the chassis at the GMC plant in Pontiac, Mich., they will be sent to the Gemini Corp., Mount Clemens, Mich., for installation of interiors. Gemini is a subsidiary of PRF Industries which makes the Travco motorhome. (on a Dodge chassis) and the Mini-Home (in a Ford compact van) among others.

A selection of interiors floor plans will be available. Interior features will include vinyl faced paneling, a thermostatically controlled LP-gas furnace, air-conditioning and a passenger seat in the front to accommodate two persons.

The motorhome prototype is powered by a 455-cubic-inch V-8, 4-barrel carburetor which develops 265 net h.p. This power package is currently used in the Toronado, a luxury auto with front wheel drive produced by GM’s Oldsmobile Division.

In addition, the GMC motorhome offers a 3-speed automatic transmission and a 6-wheel braking system with disc brakes on the front and drum brakes on all four rear wheels. The rear wheels have independent air suspensions. Such axles offer greater stability and weight carrying ability than single rear axles.

3

Development is continuing for possible application of new motorhome for use by the physically handicapped.

The low multi-purpose chassis has been under development for some time now. Initially is was seen as a chassis for a small city bus. Besides the motorhome, there are no immediate plans to use the chassis in any other vehicle but the division has considered offering it under a small bus, an ambulance or rescue vehicle, a mobile showroom or vehicle for physically handicapped riders.

The best in after-the-sale service will be the number one goal of this motorhome merchandising program, according to Robert C. Stelter, general manager at GMC. “We will offer one-stop service for everything from transmission to toilets,” he said.

GMC’s current truck dealers will get first crack at the new line but “there will be no mass franchising campaign.”

Dealers handling Chevrolet and possibly other General Motors products may get the new motorhome in locations where a dealer is needed and where there is no qualified GMC dealer. All GMC motorhome dealers will have space in which customers can store their vehicles – something like the marinas in boating. And GMC dealers who handle the motorhome will have warranty responsibility for the entire vehicle, including appliances in the living area. MHL

Full Size Clay Model

Full size clay model of the GMC Motorhome. This one was labeled “RV-26.”

Pontiac, Mich., San Jose, Calif.: General Motors finally takes wraps off long-awaited front-wheel drive motorhome prototype at end of May, unveiling 26-footer at Transpo ‘72 in Washington, D.C., promising 23-footer soon. Turn to page 50 for all facts and pictures at MHL press time. Simultaneously, in Northern Calif. more secrets are unveiled, exclusively to MHL, as FMC (Food Machinery Co. conglomerate now in many other kinds of production as well) announces coming steel-chassis, rear-engine motorhome. See our cover for full color rendition of new 29-foot fiber glass coach to cost $20,000-plus.


>> Motorhome Dateline | October 1972

PIlot Model #2 Group

Photo of early pilot model at body drop.

GM to Halt Production of Luxury Motorhomes
The Detroit News, November 1977
By Ted Goozkowski, News Staff Writer

General Motors plans to discontinue production of luxury motor homes and convert its facilities in Pontiac to truck production. The switch isn’t expected to cost any jobs. A GM spokesman said the 325 persons currently involved in motor home production will be transferred to other positions at the GMC Truck & Coach Operations.

No date has been set for the end of luxury motor home production at GMC. The plant currently has about three to four weeks of orders on hand and dealers will continue to take orders, a spokesman said.

“It will be a gradual phase-out,” the spokesman said. “It’s really up to the customers. It’s possible that people who have deferred the purchase of this ‘Cadillac’ of the motor homes will enter the market now to get one before they go out of production.”

Parts, service and warranty provisions also will continue through existing GMC motor home dealerships.

Although rising gasoline prices have moved a number of customers from the large, low-mileage Class A motor homes toward the Class C mini-motor homes, the spokesman said this isn’t the “prime” reason for GMC getting out of the luxury motor home market. Instead, GMC believes it makes better business sense to increase its capacity for the booming truck market.

“There are a number of factors involved and energy is one of them,” the spokesman said. “But we aren’t saying that the big motor home market is dead. “We have 230,000 square feet of space in the motor home plant and with the truck market growing as it is, we feel we can use that floor space better.” We build 100 trucks for every luxury motor home and that ratio would have increased over the coming year.”

At the same time, GMC is increasing its production of vans which continue to grow in popularity as recreation vehicles. A “high percentage” of the GMC vans are supplied to independent companies which install special bodies for use as mini-motor homes.

GMC began building motor homes in Pontiac early 1973. In the 1977 model year, the company produced 1,694 motor homes plus 708 “transmodes,” which are motor homes with unfinished interiors. GMC’s transmodes come in 23 and 26 foot lengths, and the motor homes are 26 footers. All GMC motor homes were in the top luxury class, generally selling for $35,000 to $40,000. The luxury motor homes, which resemble buses on the outside, have all the comforts of home inside. Most include furniture, sleeping quarters, a kitchen, dinning area, bath facilities, and air conditioning.

A GMC spokesman said GM did about 25 percent of the business in this motor home class. Most of the other manufacturers of this type of vehicles are in California.