Before Selecting a Vintage RV, I want to show you a few coaches I know of, let me talk a little about what you should look for. Selecting a vintage RV or our beloved 40 year old Classic GMC motorhome is NOT like buying any other “used car”. Mileage is less important and how the coach had been kept replaces that. Example: If one of these critters only had 20,000 miles it means it’s been driven an average of 500 miles a year…. FOR 40 YEARS!!!!! Yep, pretty scary… now if it had 100,000 miles and every scrap of documentation on what had been done well then… now we have something to work with! It’s how a coach had been loved… how many trinkets did Daddy shower on his little girl and how well did he do at being a good steward? Neglect and no maintenance will kill any mechanism made by man. And in getting it working again, you can “paint lips on the pig” making it work just good enough…or you can actually increase the reliability of this 40 year old American made 26 (and 23) foot hot rod. You don’t do that by just getting it running in other words… Each system needs to be considered and key issues need backups. I’ll have my web folks put all of this on it’s own page… for now let me put this out here….. Here is an example of an unbelievable coach for sale …that is if you can work with a rear bath Coachman floor-plan. I say this because the first consideration is NOT it’s condition although that question is right behind this one but first look at floor-plan you can live with…. I mean unless you have some very specific ideas in that case forget about what I’m getting ready to outline. Remember ANYTHING can be done with cubic dollar considerations but if you are looking to budget a restoration…. pick a floorplan you can live with….. The original infrastructure of plumbing and electrical can be inspected, added to but not have to be totally replaced. Likewise if the basic wall structures are sound and where you can leave them, ripping it all out to build in all new can be much less expensive. You can “reskin” those bulkheads to match most any new décor. So in this example we are talking about a 1978 Coachmen interior “rear bath” floorplan. It’s been said folks love or hate this model. Actually I know a very close friend who raised his family in a GM floorplan coach but found working with a rear bath floorplan worked out better for the 2 of them as empty nesters.
I do say the tub is perfect for 2 bags of ice and a case of beer but a full stand-up shower can replace it and actually I DID take a shower in the 23′ Birchaven rear bath Janie & I owned for a bit… it worked out well for us…hey but how many motorhomes do 2 people actually need? Still, we did enjoy the attributes of a rear bath. So anyway pedigree is important.. much more than mileage……. this coach… here’s a pic of it after a recent wash job Now before we get started, I am NOT trying to sell you sell you a coach… I do not want to be seen as a “salesman”. This coach sold for $10,000, another $10,000 or so made it mechanically reliable and it’s making its new steward very happy. A win-win, hope you can find a coach like this to work with.
OK, with that out of the way… as you can see from the pic above mechanically you can see a bunch…. It has aluminum rims which means it’s sitting on 16″ tire …. original steel rims are all 16.5″ rims which are hard to find tires for. Converting to what this coach already has costs. You can also see it has the “quad bag” rear suspension system. To me a must in countermeasure and failure backups you should never leave home without. Rear suspension systems are not all the same and there can be a BIG difference to you if you breakdown. This quad bag system gives you the opportunity to move with as many as 2 flat tires, burned wheel bearings or burst air bags. This coach has literally had it’s main ladder frame rails replaced! Lou did it himself at out shop some years back. That’s a $12-14,000 prospect to pay someone to do that! Exterior-wise, we painted the coach here at the Co-op 5 or 6 years ago….. from the above pic you can see all it needs to me is a body-side mold kit, maybe 2 roof AC units to get the old “roofshakers” off there. We’re taking the ladder and rail off… can’t buy new pods and the coach will look super sleek without all that hardware. On the inside you may not like 80’s style but you must say it is comfortable Not only a rear bath but twin bunks! And check out those neat pillows Lou’s wife made and the stitched print! It has a more recent frig but it may need a new one soon . The dash is still together and unmolested… still has a shaft radio in the dash! And it has a carpet dash cover for protection With the paint work already done, many important mechanical updates already done and an interior that has been loved and cared for? This coach is again sold.
So THIS is what you want to look for… a floor plan you want, a good frame, a good pedigree, mechanical updates, good looks and comfortable …if you find a coach like this brother buy it. If you can have a survivor in reliable mechanical condition road ready for under $25,000 the numbers work and when it’s done…. news flash, they are NEVER done but one that is good looking, comfortable AND mechanical updated and sound…. $50,000 is a realistic target to expect to invest. With an average annual expense of $2000 for maintenance… some years nothing then the motor blows, you know…… if you do it right and do it well a GMC Motorhome IS “the cheapest toy in the box”. ….It’s kinda like “Badda book…badda boom”…… let it sink in……. OK good luck on your search, let me know if I can help…… .
This coach sold for $10,000