Wow, who would have thought that the first entry in Car Reveries would be about a motorhome! But wait, this aint no regular motorhome I’m talking about. This is the most awesomest, grooviest, super 70s, retrofuturistic motorhome ever mass-produced. The fact that it was a product of the lumbering, malaise-era General Motors makes it even more so.
Oh man, I mean, look at that 70s futuristic style! When I was a small, wide-eyed kid growing up in the petro-dollar addicted Venezuela of the 70s I remember looking in awe at one of these parked a few blocks away from home. I thought it looked like it just came back from a mission in Mars. I could almost see the astronauts stepping down in slow-mo, their breathing sounds interrupted by scratchy sounding radio messages to the control base. Oh well, I used to stare at it on the way to the supermarket with my mom, so after we parked and entered the store the image quickly changed back to reality. Never underestimate the power of the produce aisle to pull you back into reality.
Quick notes on why I think the GMC Motorhome is so awesome:
- The style: Just look at it! All curvy and tapered, large windows with rounded corners, and that double axle in the back. You have to consider the context; a contemporary Winnebago looked like a construction shed by comparison.
A 1972 Winnebago… (courtesy www.winnbagoind.com)
- The technology: A front-wheel drive 455CID V8 and Turbo-Hydramatic transmission lifted from an Oldsmobile Toronado allowed a low, flat floor, as did the fully independent suspension with automatic leveling via rubber air bladders. It was an amazing feat of engineering that also shows the tragedy of GM at the time, whose engineering might allowed it to produce vehicles like this, only to fail miserably in quality, execution, and definition, due to bureaucracy, and mismanagement. But let’s leave that for another conversation.
The GMC Motorhome was awesome.