I’ve also heard it called “repurposing a turd” and “racking a pigpen”, “painting lips on a pig” and a few more. They say that sometimes about what we do here with the GMC motorhome and well maybe sometimes it’s true…. you need passion and determination to “make a silk purse from a sows ear” … there’s another one but there has always been something in the back of my mind saying … why not for other motorhomes?
We’ll have GMC content for your fix today but also I’d like to expand the idea a bit because we’re doing something right now I’ve always wondered about. Keep reading and I’ll expand on this.
First, lets talk about familiar turds we’re on specifically a very rare opportunity to do some historical archeology on Cedric’s restoration. This is a very special coach with a very unique history because THIS coach is a 1973 hand made prototype vehicle holding the #41 lottery ball! Yes, I understood that the first 50 GMC’s were used in design, crash testing and production integration in the 1973 model year… I had restored #51 and thought I had done something but #41…… look at it when we got it Look carefully at those last 2 pics and you will pick up some very interesting things. 2 rear ladders and a rail that runs the length of the coach…. factory installed! Hinged T skirts and I tell you had to be made by a master metal man. Other things are the aluminum… not stainless steel entry door plate that all 1973 coaches have. This one has the original vinyl trim AND the logo… just like it was factory Oh and look at the VIN plate… every one I have seen has been put on after the heater core was fitted… look at this one I could go on and on like the filled over single latch holes and the hand shimmed 2 latch system and finding hand bent hinges on those front doors screwed on from the back side no less . As we take this historical machine apart we are finding many handprints of the builder… seams that were ground and originally seams covered with some kick but sealer smeared on like someone trying to keep the ^&*(*%$## thing from leaking cause the VP is using it. That stuff was also put on bare primer along the top of the rails like everyone tries to keep the coach from leaking there… this means to me that was done by the guys in the prototype bay after the thing was assembled.. could have been the “leaker” they had to figure out how to stop the flow! Look.. rivets under the filler at the rear cross seam! that’s a new one… Yep, the panels were popping out all over the 1973 models.. I don;t think the UAW folks understood the importance of prepping when you used epoxy panel bonding glues back then the way the aircraft boys did. The body was designed and put together like and aircraft fuselage but I have never seen reattaching rivets in places this coach has them.
Sorry but I like this stuff, I mean when you see so many of something it’s always interesting when you find one different and brother this puppy is different! Proof there are still really great coaches out there worth spending money on.
In fact this is a fitting coach to be used to prototype and document the installation process for the new 6.5 GM turbo-diesel motr. Yes, got word yesterday that the first 6.5 turbo-diesel production motor/tranny/diff drive train is on the truck to us right now! Are you kidding… we will be rebuilding a complete front frame clip with a 1 ton front suspension, the diesel motor, a transmission specifically built by Manny for this application with a GM diesel torque converter, a 273 gear.. remember our red line will be 2200rpm. Yes, a mechanically injected, 6.5 V8 GM bolt in power plant for our classic GMC motorhome… now THAT’S something to invest in! Yes, it will be a little pricey but this will certainly be the last motor ever installed in this coach and that’s a good thing because as soon as this awesome restoration is done this machine will be shipped to the UK as our custom emissary to Europe on how cool a GMC can be made for future use.
This is not a cosmetic update and a mechanical go through… this is an all new drive train/suspension package turning the clock back on all the mechnicals of the coach… MAN, I’ve always wanted to do this! And like I said at the beginning this morning this is something I’ve been grooming our restoration process to get to for years. You MUST stay tuned for more on this project…
But now I’d like to talk about another idea that I’ve dreamed about for a very long time…. this gets your feet really wet standing outside the box looking in. Not we know the ocean of RV’s out there were all turtle shells plopped up on top of a commercial production built chassis… right? Through the years, commercial chassis have been used for many purposed… flat bed trucks, ice cream trucks, ambulances, school buses, etc.
Yep… the day is on and I need to get to work.. I’ll pick this up tomorrow…. have a great day out there guys, see you later….
Bill Bryant says
Really enjoyed your post on #41. Hope you don’t mind my commenting on some of the details you mentioned.
Actually the first 20 TZEs were not sold to the public, but were used to evaluate the designs as you mentioned. The earliest GMC MH sold to the public, #21 is known to be in Northern TX, I have checked it out due to its importance in GMC MH history. All of these GMCs were built on the Pontiac, MI production line, although at a slow rate initially, and could have been considered almost “hand built” with the trials of early production. They were NOT considered “prototypes” which was an earlier group of hand built coaches and did differ from those built later on the production line (none of these are known to exist).
If you can find the “Service parts” sticker on the back of the glove box, I would very much like to see a copy of it. If it exists it would tell us a great deal about #41. Also I would be interested to know if the INSIDE of the front body appears to be “laid up” fiberglass rather than neatly molded. If that is the case there is a reinforcement (inverted “U” pipe) molded in the glass above the access openings and down to the lower fenders. By the way, the dual ladders and full railing are outstanding!
Below are listed some of the early changes for 1973s & ~ TZE# (last 4)
1- laid-up front fiberglass (know the first several had it), how long, to #41?
2- SINGLE access door latch hole & notch/bump until ~TZE- 0365
3- Entrance door patch until ~TZE 1800 – 2000 (highest 1973 # ~ 3150)
4- Drip gutter, none until ~TZE- 2000
5- Access door hinge blind screws until ~TZE-0350, later 4 hinge screws visable on exterior.
6- Entry door switch mounted near middle moved toward top ~TZE-0100
Many others, enough for now.
The 1973s were not as well assembled nor designed as later coaches, had MANY changes and upgrades to correct many of those deficiencies, the body and frames I believe never met the higher standards of later models. To invest a significant amount of funds in the modification a 1973-74 coach as the base is, I believe, not the best choice when many later coaches (1975 & later) are readily available. Restoration of a 1973-74 coach is great as a representation of a 1973-74 coach. There are better choices as a base for your advanced technology showcase vehicle.
Just my thoughts, no harm intended,