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The GMC Motorhome: A Classic RV That Was Ahead Of Its Time

The GMC Motorhome: A Classic RV That Was Ahead Of Its Time

In the early 1970’s, General Motors released into the wild one of the most iconic RVs in history. From there, the GMC motorhome would change the trajectory of the motorhomes of the future.

The distinctive capsule that brought the front-wheel-drive home-on-wheels to market not only retains a place in history for GM’s motorhome innovations, but shows its extraordinary longevity to this day, because there’s still a significant number on the road!

Let’s take a step back in time to consider just how futuristic the GMC motorhome really was.

When Did the GMC Motorhome Come to the RV Market?

The iconic GMC motorhome was manufactured by the GMC Truck & Coach Division of General Motors in Pontiac, Michigan during model years 1973-1978.

The 1973 GMC motorhome debuted on the market with a capsule-like design and a fiberglass and aluminum body frame. The travel vehicle was streamlined to incorporate everything an RVer could need in a full-sized motorhome including roof air and an air suspension ride.

What Was Distinctive About the GMC Motorhome?

The GMC motorhome has the distinction of having been the only motorhome completely built by a major North American auto manufacturer, with the entire rig (including the chassis as well as the interior designs) created in-house by GM.

It also has the distinction of having been the first motorhome with front-wheel drive! Until then, all motorhomes were rear-wheel drive only. GM’s front-wheel-drive transaxle, which they referred to as the Unified Powerplant Package, was originally used in the Oldsmobile Toronado.

The chassis had a modified rear suspension.

How Was the Original GMC Motorhome Designed?

The GM design center first created a full-scale clay model of the 26′ rig, and the company ultimately manufactured 23′ and 26′ versions of the low-profile motorhomes, all encapsulated in aluminum body panels. About 90% of GM’s total production was the 26′ version of the motorhome.

At the time, most motorhomes were designed on a truck chassis and had a boxy appearance. But GMC designed their motorhome to look more like an airplane, with the smooth, rounded look of a long spaceship-like capsule.

Their marketing logo? “It doesn’t ride like a truck. It doesn’t look like a box.”

A mock-up of the 1973 GM motorhome, showing the interior layout

The GMC motorhome was innovative and remains iconic, in part because it didn’t ride like a truck or look like a box! (Photo: General Motors)

How Much Did the Original 1972 GMC Motorhome Cost?

In 1972, (the first model year), GMC’s original 26′ motorhome had a retail base price of $14,569.06, and the 23′ version had a retail base price of $13,569.06.

The purchasing power of $1 in 1972 is equivalent to roughly $7.20 today (in 2023), so at today’s prices, the 26′ version of GMC’s iconic motorhome would be around $105,000. While not exactly cheap, that’s not a bad price for a sleek, well-equipped motorhome, even at today’s price!

How Many Motorhomes Did GM Sell?

Between 1973 and 1978, a total of 12,921 GM motorhomes were sold. That seems like a surprisingly low number to us, given how often we still see GMC motorhomes on the road today!

Why Did GM Stop Making Motorhomes?

After producing the total of 12,921 motorhomes in a six-year span of time, the general manager of GMC Truck (along with others associated with the division) decided that their factory space would be best used to produce more trucks. Since pickup trucks are some of the most popular vehicles manufactured in North America, this doesn’t come as much of a surprise.

Thus, on November 11, 1977, GM’s Truck & Coach Division announced that motorhome production would cease, and GM stopped producing motorhomes altogether in 1978.

How Many GMC Motorhomes are Still on the Road Today?

No one knows for sure, but it’s estimated that somewhere in the neighborhood of 7,000 GMC motorhomes are still cruising the roads today. While we know we’re stating the obvious, it’s still cool to point out that these rigs are 50 years old and still being enjoyed by vintage RV enthusiasts.

And with only 12,921 ever made, 7,000 units (more than half!) still being on the road is extraordinarily significant. The longevity of these rigs is a testament to their fiberglass & aluminum construction and to the fact that their suspension components were made by GM’s trucking division, a manufacturer that regularly made heavy-duty trucks and city buses.

Not to mention the fact that their cool, sleek, 1970’s-futuristic appearance makes them a popular choice as a vintage RV.

Have You Seen a GMC Motorhome On the Road?

If you’ve seen an original GMC motorhome on the road, we’d love to hear about it! Drop us a comment below!

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Monday 25th of March 2024

A friend of mine worked for a guy who would let employees use one for the week end. Had many great times in it.

Gay Tacoma (Washington) Travel Enthusiast (Jason)

Monday 25th of March 2024

I'd buy a GMC Motorhome if I had the money and someone to share the experience and responsibilities. I'd keep what I can stock original, while also upgrading certain things.

Judy Bowen

Monday 25th of March 2024

My parents had one in the early years and went to Florida. They were traveling I75 south and were met by firetrucks. Someone reported the back end was smoking and on fire. All was well and they continued to Florida. On whims, my father would drive around our town and pick up his friends for party time in the motorhome. My mother didn’t care for the brown interior.

Larry Potter

Monday 25th of March 2024

I saw one and have photos in Moab Utah couple of years ago. It was amazing! The owner had mounted a rack on the back and installed a generator so he could boondock.

Did you know the rear wheels are free rolling? Nothing but an axel like a travel trailer. Strange in this day and age to see.

Matthew Oneal

Friday 11th of August 2023

Hello rv geeks!! So I’m looking to see if anyone can identify what I have here. Paper work and badging says it’s a 1970 GMC Dyna coach but after doing extensive research I can find nothing on this unit. It is a dually rear wheel drive 1970. Only info I can find is dynacoach gmcs we’re only made from 73-78 and we’re front wheel drive and had tandem axles? Can you guys shed any light on this gem I have found? Wondering if this was a custom one off build for a customer? I can not believe I can not find even one picture of this thing on internet and absolutely no info on it! Looking forward to hearing what you all think!!

Thank you for your time!


Saturday 12th of August 2023

Hi Matthew. Wow... sounds like you may have a true one-of-a-kind on your hands. It's certainly possible that this is some kind of custom job, based on a GMC? We're thinking that your best place to start would be to post about it on a GMC Owners Forum like, as the members there may have the best chance of helping you to identify what you've got!

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