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GMC Class A – Built to be a motorhome

GMC Class A - Built to be a motorhome
  • Editor Rating

  • Rated 4 stars
$5,500 to $38,500
  • 80%


Summary:

In the back corners of my RVing mind, there has always been a hidden, slightly forbidden, actually, unbidden interest in the body style, fluid-like, streamlined, energy efficient, low to the pavement, powerful, easy to drive and maneuver GMC motorhome.

The body was designed to fit within the rear wheel wells and behind the front wheel drive and engine system. In a compact package these units were built to be RVs.

Several different floor plans were developed for the 23 and 26 foot models. Both models have dual rear wheels, but not dual axles. Two rear wheels on each side are placed one in front of the other as is necessary to carry the 10,000 to 12,000 pounds of vehicle and load.

Regardless of whether you are in the market to purchase a GMC motorhome or not, both the 23- and 26-foot models are worth more than a glance to see how a motorhome should be built.

The GMC Class A motorhome was designed to be just that — a motorhome. It was built using a chassis, engine and drive train on which a motorhome is superimposed or more accurately, is meshed.

Certainly the Toronado motor and front wheel drive were vital parts of the GMC-built motorhomes, and the Toronado was also used as the basis for the Cortez and a few other motorhomes that were built in the late 1960s and 1970s.

The GMC motorhome body fits effectively on the frame and is a low to the ground, easy to enter and uniquely blended chassis and motorhome unit. Check the info available on Wikipedia and you will see that less than 15,000 GMC Class A motorhomes were constructed during the five-year period from 1973 to 1978. An estimated 8,000 are still in running condition today, 35 to 40 years later.

Online searches show many GMC’s in various stages of rebuilding, reconstruction, refurbishing or “as is” condition. This information presented a difficulty for me, a dilemma or a mystery. Is an investment in a long-defunct motorhome a wise investment? Am I wise to purchase an old motorhome for any reason? If so, which reasons are good reasons?

Be aware that I also own a 2013 Thor ACE and a 1990 Gulfstream Friendship, diesel pusher, at this time.

At any one time there may be a dozen or more GMC motorhomes for sale either on the Internet, craigslist or locally. Prices may range from $500 for a piece of junk/parts only RV to $50,000 or $60,000.00 for recently restored models.

Classic automobiles and small trucks are more valuable when the part numbers match and there is valid evidence that the classic is original to the greatest extent possible. Although there is no comparable RV market, to my knowledge, for classic motorhomes, it seems probable that the scarcity of GMC motorhomes may result in added value for original, classic GMC’s.

Several GMC motorhomes are for sale online ranging in price from $5,500 to $38,500. Two units flaunting similar credentials had the same asking price of $9,500. One is an original, two-owner RV while the second was restored in 1994, but has not been driven since 2004. Which unit has a greater value now? In the near future? As an RV? As an investment?

At , you’ll find GMC motorhomes for sale. In addition to those currently listed for sale, there is a long list of units that have sold on that site during past years. It is a very interesting, but long list. Those sold commanded prices ranging from $300 to more than $30,000.

It seems worthwhile to compare those that are for sale with those that have sold within the past two years to ascertain a reasonable value for classic versus restored units.

There is a great deal of information online regarding parts, service, social clubs, sellers, buyers, restorations and virtually every aspect of owning a GMC motorhome. The owners that I have met are eager to exchange information and to help me find the right repair, service, clubs and all types of information regarding the GMC. This seems to be a very nice community of RV owners.

At Quartzsite in January 2015, it was my pleasure to talk with eight owners who are members of the Pacific Cruisers GMC club. Very nice people.

At this time, the purchase of the GMC seems to be the correct decision for me. I am eager to become a component of the GMC motorhome owners community.

Pros

    Low, streamlined profile.

  • One step entry.
  • RV body is meshed with the chassis.
  • Excellent windshield viewing area, large windows in the sides and rear of the coach.
  • Elevated seating for driver and passenger.
  • Good interior storage.
  • Many models had/have vacuum sweeper system.
  • Macerator sewage disposal system present in many models.
  • Engine and drive train are automotive rather than much larger truck or RV style.
  • Excellent community of GMC motorhome owners/operators/service/repair.
  • Good running/operating models may be purchased for relatively low prices.
  • Reconditioned models may sell for more than $50,000, which is still a much lower cost than present day Class B and Class C motorhomes.
  • Models 35-40 years old are still in good running and living condition.
  • GMC motorhomes are classic RVs and hold a certain level of prestige.
  • Easy to drive and maneuver in traffic and while parking.
  • Good power and acceleration with the GMC engines.
  • Most models include the usual features of Class A motorhomes.

Cons

  • No slideouts.
  • Limited exterior storage space.
  • Additional storage is usually a Pod on the top of the motorhome.
  • Wet toilet stool due to shower over stool.
  • Small waste water tanks.
  • Narrow interior width.

About Dr. Bob Gorden

Dr. Bob Gorden is an RVer, hiker and writer. He has a PhD in microbial ecology from the University of Georgia in Athens. He is a retired research scientist from the University of Illinois Natural History Survey. He has owned and operated more than 55 RVs of various types, and has visited every state, except Hawaii, in his RV. He also traveled by RV in New Zealand, Canada and Mexico. He currently owns and travels in a 1978 GMC 26-foot Class A and 2013 Thor ACE 30.1 Class A motorhome. He has a compelling desire to be “On the Road Again!”

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