GMC MotorHome — the only complete motorhome built by a major auto manufacturer.
The time period from the end of World War II until the energy crisis of the mid 1970s may well have been the high point for the American automobile industry.
The people who had lived through the Great Depression and the Second World War: they had dreamed of and fought for a new world of liberty, and in the post-war era they sought to make their dreams a reality. The era of the recreational vehicle was about to begin, and General Motors was about to create what was to be one of the greatest recreational vehicles ever made.
It also the energy crisis of 1973, which changed automotive world. It became more focused on fuel efficient and smaller cars. Cars became smaller, lighter, less powerful and with increased fuel economy. New ideas are evaluated; few see the light of day and are actually produced. Occasionally however, a niche is found and a new market is developed.
It appeared that the motor home market was about to explode. Motor home sales had doubled from 1971 to 1972. GM estimated that total motor home sales should be 100,000 by 1975. Each RV manufacturer was building its version of what it thought a motor home should be. There were lots of choices for the motor home buyer, nearly all of them on a truck chassis.
GM Sales had identified the need for the 7meters motor home as a price leader. Prices were reported to be between $12 000-16 000 (= $83 000-110 500 in 2020). Many smaller motor home companies indicated immediate worry at erosion of market share by giant GM entering this field with many more resources than they had available. About this time the new vehicle was known as the GMC MotorHome.
This vehicle was so different from other motor homes of the era is that it was not conceived as just a “camper”, but as a vehicle for comfortable travel as well: “It doesn’t ride like a truck, it doesn’t look like a box.”
Amenities included central air conditioning and heat, microwave oven and gas range, colour television, built-in vacuum cleaner, AM/FM stereo and cassette player and a citizens’ band two-way radio, all powered by an onboard electric generator.
V8 engine provided plenty of torque, and the good aerodynamics helped the GMC achieve 21liters/100kms fuel economy.
“House and Garden” magazine was a consultant for the interior décor and exterior colors. They were a recognized authority on the colors and designs of that era.
On January 3rd, 1973 at Anaheim Stadium in California, the GMC MotorHome was introduced to the news media representatives. Over 100 newsmen and women watched a demonstration of the vehicle’s performance capabilities.
GM announced the end of production for the GMC Motorhome on November 11th, 1977. GM was faced with modest sales of the Motorhome and so it was not a sufficiently profitable product. It has been over 40 years since GMC announced the end of MotorHome production. Remaining units became collectable items with the prices high for well preserved motor home.