There is no doubt this story is not unlike how many folks find themselves feeling about many things so don’t think I’m going to solve world hunger from any epiphanies you will read about here. No, in most cases this will not be anything new, the thing I feel makes this noteworthy is the object at which has given me thing feeling. I have been directly involved in caring for the GMC motorhome, it has been a rewarding experience in that gravitating toward such an unusual candidate for affection I have found a strong bond. This morning it seemed to all come together for what I can only call “Falling in Love Again”! Let me say first that I am still in love with my mate Janie, there’s no need to say, “I’m in love again, I’m certainly still in love so lets get that straight up front, this is my “2nd love”.
Living on a daily basis confronted by the ills that befall a vintage machine such as a motorhome, I find myself taking for granted just how out of the ordinary it actually is having the asset of a mechanism such as one of these things. True, it is referred to as a “motorhome” or even “camper” by those outsiders to this world because they can be and are so much more than that. let me explain– before I fell into this trap I was a car nut, still actually am but have found my “niche” as they say. Before– well let me start thins by describing the last actual showable car I had– there are just too many of them to line their names up on a page– it was a 1958 Plymouth Savoy, sort of the bottom of the line chromeless wonder of the day. it was a 2 door (thank the lord it wasn’t a 4 door grocery getter, a sedan so it was not the Mr. Spiffy racer model. It came with the lame of the lame flat head 6 cyl. Mopar pump motor, was the last year before the slant 6 took over as the tractor motor of choice. It was off white with a white top, bench folder seat and a solid steel dash that would knock out every tooth in your head if you slammed against in in an accident! The fins on this beast would act as rudders, it was basically a stripped down “Christine” from the movie with white wall tires– what a heap! I saw something in it, felt sorry for it and vowed to give it something special. My Dad & Uncle of which I never knew with my Dad leaving home to peruse a different path when I was 6 month old would always talk about sleeper cars when I sat with them and how they could blow the doors off those chrome gilded fancyman runners, they said “if it won;t go, chrome it” and whether I truly felt that way or not, it was what they said and that was good enough for me.
So I was going to build a “sleeper”. I asked uncle Jack what he would do if he had this Savoy back in the day– he rolled back in his chair, popped the tab on another beer and started in– “It’l have a big Hemi, agranny gear truck transmission– 3 on the tree, we’d weld the stock truck 3.80 gear solid, cam the bitch, hog out a Carter AFB to a funnel, fire it with a Scintilla magneto and probably put a street pack box with point so it would idle at a traffic light. Solid motor mounts would help the heap hook up and probably shake the headlight baskets wiggling the lights sitting at idle. Beef up the bumpers to stop the rearend from flexing out the leaf springs– oh yea, put 2 sets of springs in the clutch, you will be dumping torque to those wheels so the clutch has gotta hold. He went on and on which made me lather at the mouth so I decided right then to build that thing up– and to cut to the chase I did. So that is how I look at building an antique car and thats what i do whenever I look at a GMC.
Fast forward now to this morning and why I felt compelled to sit and plunk this out, Many of you may know Larry, no not Larry as a man but Larry as in my motorhome. I was introduced to Larry by Larry C., a trusted friend and fellow car nut. Larry C. is 1 of the more interesting individuals I have me over the years of messing with the GMC. Larry called one day and asked if I was still looking for a unique motorhome for myself and from there I pulled away from the Denver Colorado US Postal service maintenance facility sporting this thing a recently decommissioned mobile post office from the Denver Postal System.! Had snow tires all the way around and it turned 50,000 miles bumping my way home to Florida with it. It seems I bonded to the beast on that trip, a trial by fire if you will. I found it’s “sweet spot”, heard it’s rattles and squeeks, translated and understood what each gauge on the dash told me about the life of that coach. It is a 1974 chassis with a 1975 VIN number which the title says it’s a 1976 so it could be considered a coach taking 3 years in it’s construction. From those bones I built a machine that was to fit my lifestyle and needs to the T.
So this morning, which is why we’re here, started when I walked out the door just after dawn, I had slept in the morning, and before me was Larry because the evening before I had felt a tug to go over and fire him up and take him home. It surprised me at first because I had settled in lately driving the Suzuki the 4 miles to work but this morning, all of a sudden I had my beast to cart me. Opening the door a rush hit me in the face that somehow translated to me something like “it’s about damn time, where have you been and are you ready to rumble”! Wow, it’s morning, I don’t know if I’m ready but for some reason it seemed like Larry was ready!
Sat in the seat, looked over the array of gauges I gad put in myself on the dash , pumped the gas 3 times and turned the key. Larry woke up with a rump. He was ready to go! It was a crisp, clear, cool morning so there was condensation smoke coming from the exhaust pipe, I could see it in the mirror. I backed out into the road, slipped the shifter into drive and man, I was off. I was used to pumping the throttle on that 4 banger Suzuki that really would not go no matter how hard you pressed the pedal, Larry leaped out and I caught myself squeezing the steering wheel a bit. Woooooww Nelly, I’ve got a tiger by the tail, what a great way to say good morning! Stopped at the corner, reached down and tapped the volt meter– it sticks and probably like the pilot of some WWII fighter plane, he knows his aircraft and thumps a gauge to wake it up I was now in control of my very own road rocket!
Stopped to get some fuel, it occurred to me that if I had some muscle car from the 70’s, it too would drink fuel like a sailor on leave so it didn;t bother me to pump $40 of go juice, it would go for a good cause– my personal enjoyment and like that vintage road racer, I too would soo be out on the road– fearless looking for trouble. Pulling away from the gas station you always feel that that fresh jet fuel somehow would make that first acceleration that much better so in true form I goosed him and the sound of that roller cam big block 455 filled my ears with joy. I took him right up to the speed limit because as we all know you never go above and we were there in an instant. There was a car that I had pulled out in front of that I am sure felt he would have to get into the left lane for him to stay at speed– I proved him wrong! From 0 to 40, I can give a presentable account and I did. He started for the left lane but when he saw there was no way he could pass me and dodge the speed trap he settled back in with my tail end across his windshield. I was a sustantial object occupying this space in time and there was nothing anyone could do about it! I was in Love again and there was nothing I could do about that! As I pulled into the shop, of course I would be working on a Sunday morning– what else would I do– I snapped these shots of my buddy Larry.
So there you are, like I said there would be no earthshaking concepts to read about here, just a little of the joy it gives me owning and having fun with such a unique type of American Hot Rod. I think I’ll give Larry a wash up, maybe vacuum the carpets and check the oil. Things I could do anytime but right now it seems important. The show on TV calls for “Car Crazy” people to unite, I wonder if they know about how car crazy you can get! If you have a GMC “motorhome” then great, go do something you want to with it. if you don’t as yet have one of these unbelievable machines consider this, “Life is short and this may be something you want to look into– I did and my life was changed forever— for the 2nd time!
You are the th GMC nutcase to read this story, thanks for your support. I hope it was not a waste of time and I hope it will stir you to look into the vintage RV lifestyle. The world picture is changing, you need to chart your own way, make your own decisions and do what you feel is important. You can never be homeless when you have a motorhome, you can never be without wheels when you sleep on top of them and you can never be lonely when you have a machine such as I do that is there for my pleasure. Viva La GMC…