The Sexy Allure of Vintage RVs

Saturday, July 30, 2016

There's a '70s or '80s Coachmen for sale that I drive past every weekday twice on my way to and from work. One of my recurring fantasies is that I win the lottery, buy it, the pack up and hit the road in it for some ol' American sightseeing.

I don't know too much about RVs and caravans or how they differ by manufacturer but I do know this: if it's in great shape, I'd prefer to take the wheel of a vintage model. I recently looked up what modern RVs look like and in my opinion, they seem rather overdone both inside and out (not to mention pricey: a new Winnebago Adventurer will set you back about $200,000.) A lot of them look indistinguishable from coach buses, and the interiors have become a little too luxurious looking for my taste. Nope, give me a RV with an orange and brown and faux wood paneling inside any day like the one below...

I would, however, make an exception for a 2017 Airstream trailer. That company has done a nice job keeping their trademark silver trailer designs classic, while keeping the decor contemporary but still kind of retro (lots of wood available, but in a darker tone which looks nice.)

From what I understand, the very first RV was made by the Pierce Arrow Motor Company and introduced to the pubic in 1910. The Touring Landau as it was called had many "modern" luxuries such as a kitchen basket, privy, storage boxes, and a phone that allowed passengers to communicate with their driver (it was considered a chauffeur operated vehicle for the wealthy during that time.)

If you're lucky enough to own a vintage land yacht or RV, more power to you. The rest of us will just have to fantasize about the glamour of RV traveling with this collection of brochure photos and advertisements I've dug up.

I think the GMC motorhome is my favorite design of all of the vintage RVs I've seen -- nice proportion of windows and love the sunny yellow color...although the Dodge one below is pretty cool looking, too.

I think Kermit got it wrong: it's easy being green.

OK, I cheated: this is a van. But it's a conversation pit. In. A. Van!

And...that's one way to sell a Winnebago. Look at the suggested retail price! Today they want ten times as much.

A cozy, romantic dinner for two somewhere along Route 66. I told you RVs had sex appeal!

Are they admiring the yellow shag carpeting?

A fondue pot in a motorhome -- now we're talking!
I always liked the VW Bus and Camper. I think the company should consider bringing it back.

Here's a neat promotional video for the GMC Motorhome -- the suspension rocks! It definitely looks like it had some desirable features for its time. No mobile phone problem.

There's a lot more ads and photos where these came from, but this should satisfy for now -- perhaps I should do a part two post at some point.


  1. One of those dreams I've always had, taking a Winnebago across the country. I probably will never have the money to do it but I still think about it sometimes.

    1. Never say never, Jeff. I've been focusing a lot on the feeling of having more than enough money and doing money affirmations...and it is starting to work!

    2. Buy in Canada. Vintage motorhomes built in the US or Canada are free to import. The Canadian motorhomes are cleaner (by a LOT), cheaper (by a LOT) and have lower gas mileage (by the hundreds of thousands) than older US motorhomes. I just bought a 1979 Bendix Citation (GMC) with 22,000 miles on it. It's pristine. $3,000 USD. Stop dreaming and go snag a deal off of Canadian craigslist.

  2. Pam, you've sold me! Wire the money to my bank account and I'll buy one immediately.
    That's travelling in style. I've never even seen the inside of one of these things. Our family vacations were done in a car, a Dodge of some sort, and four kids packed in there resulted in a breeding ground for psychopathy.
    That's a word, I looked it up.
    Yes, unless you want your summer vacation to turn into something out of The Shining or Lord of the Flies, better invest in one of these bad boys.
    Humans need space. I have two older sisters. Nuff said.
    M.P. (suffering from mild PTSD)

    1. I looked at some from the '70s for sale online. The great thing about used RVs, even the old ones, is they have low mileage on them. Think about it...a cross country trip from coast to coast is approximately 3,000 miles. Most owners probably don't take them that far annually.

  3. Wow, the lime green interior is a real show stopper! Why does the ad show a lady vaccuuming? Did it have central vac?

    I love that video.

    1. My 1979 Bendix Citation (GMC in the US) has a central vacuum, central air... it's mega luxury.

  4. Wow there sure are some bright colors there. I always thought it would be fun to RV around, but I wonder if it's really as much fun as I imagine.

  5. My vote goes to the green Dodge Motorhome. I love that it looks like a driveable pull trailer, which of course is what it is.

  6. Traveling in a motorhome is a wonderful experience, if you have what it takes and the right partner. We met a lot of nice people, great food (looking at you Memphis and Texas BBQ, taquitos, and gulf shrimp), and stayed in some amazing, sketchy, and even scary places (it's called the Desert for a reason). Like boats, there is always something that needs attending to, often expensive if you're not handy, and you must be adaptable to the small-house philo. And you can do and see places off the beaten track, that is my interest. Not hardly wealthy, I took my old, renewed by my hand, Minnie Winnie across country twice, weeks at a time, between job opportunities, with my wife and child, spending time visiting the historical science and natural meccas; Ozarks, Tennessee and Kentucky east to west, Florida east and west coast, Houston (NASA), Los Alamos (Nat Lab), Alamagordo (bomb), Socorro(VLA), Yuma(hot), Nat Parks, Taos, Utah, Nevada, like that. And I am getting ready to do it again, with an updated machine, as I am just now an empty nester. This time I want to take the northern route, see more of the paleo sites, maybe finding a new hobby volunteering to dig dinosaurs in the summer while skiing in the winter! Dunno. BTW, did I say it was fun! Adventure. SAHD


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