1970s Rectrans Discoverer 25 Motorhome Trio

We don’t usually think of motorhomes as being fast or aerodynamic, especially with all of the flat-front models cruising the freeways. These three 1971 and 1972 Rectrans Discoverer 25 motorhomes were maybe the muscle motorhomes of their day. They can be found here on craigslist in Monaca, Pennsylvania with an asking price of $7,000 for all three of them. Thanks to Roger for sending in this tip!

Said to be the first motorhome tested in a wind tunnel, even if it was a scale model, the Rectrans achieved a previously unthinkable 10 mpg while doing 0-60 mph in 11 seconds! That is a feat that still surprises me. The seller has one 1971 Rectrans 25 and two 1972 Rectrans 25 motorhomes in this listing and I’m assuming that they don’t want to break up the set.

Our own Todd Fitch (not seen above) gave us a great look at the history of the Rectrans Discoverer motorhomes here on Barn Finds last fall. I’m not sure who would be in the market for three of them at once unless they were in the seller’s area due to the incredible shipping cost for even one of them let alone three. But, there are collectors of these cool and unique rigs out there. I would want it to at least look exactly as it did after leaving the factory. There were around 3,300 of them made between 1971 and 1974 and they were pretty revolutionary, coming out right before the iconic GMC motorhome.

All three of these sleek homes-on-wheels will need a refurb, as they say on HGTV, and as someone who has refurbed three houses over the last 27 years, it’s not cheap. And, when you throw in a Chrysler 413 V8 chassis, yeah… But, it’ll give you a chance for a few nice upgrades. Have any of you restored an old motorhome?

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Comments

  1. Ian C

    Chop-top RV? Not too bad in my opinion. While the 413 was a good powerplant, I am thinking Hellcrate!! Just be sure to have the lid down on the crapper when leaving the stop light.

    Like 5
  2. KidNova

    It’s a dodge ,, they spelled it wrong..
    It’s. Wreck-trans.

    • Mike

      What do you mean “wreck-trans”?

  3. John

    Pity they are wrong side of the big pond for me. You guys very your barn finds cheap as chips.

    Like 2
    • James Crick

      I agree the prices are low but ontop of the purchase price you have got the haulage down to the nearest port then the shipping is around $3500/4000 on each one then you have got the customs etc etc all in all it’s a good way to loose money..

  4. Ralph

    I can’t read the name without reading “Rectaltrans” everytime I see it……

    Like 1
  5. Mike

    Such an awkward design.

    Like 1
  6. DrewP

    How about the seller post more of the exterior view, who needs to see the rest?!
    Bah!

    Like 1
  7. Del

    Wrecktums be damned. It killed them

  8. Fiete T.

    Larry Shinoda design

  9. Mountainwoodie

    For the longest time one of these sat at a muffler shop in Lakeside California in the last year. So ugly that I almost wrecked my car every time I drove past it.

    I wonder what the seller will pay someone to tow them off his property. :)

  10. Steve Kelly

    These were featured in a James Caan movie called ‘Slither’

    • Gransedan

      ‘Slither’ is definitely worth watching. The cast also includes Peter Boyle, Alex Rocco, Louise Lasser and Sally Kellerman. Caan, Boyle and Lasser hit the road to recover stashed loot in a red ’72 Impala 4dr hardtop pulling an Airstream ( I believe ). They pick up Kellerman whose ’69 Kingswood Estate has broken down and are pursued by Rocco and the ‘bad guys’ in two sinister looking black Rectrans.

  11. Mike A

    Though I read Barn Finds every day, this is my first comment. Here’s a little historical perspective to offset the negative Shinoda design critique. First, let’s not forget that Shinoda is credited with leading the team that did the production design for the ’63 Corvette Sting Ray. Not too shabby. As mentioned in another comment, Bunkie Knudsen was involved with the Rectrans project. Knudsen had been passed over for GM’s presidency in favor of Ed Cole in 1968 and left to take the same job at Ford (sort of a historic flip flop as Knudsen’s father had left Ford for the GM presidency years earlier). Knudsen and Shinoda had developed a mutual respect, so Shinoda went to Ford as well. At Ford, Knudsen clashed with Lee Iacocca and within two years both Knudsen and Shinoda were fired. Knudsen headed for Florida to collect his thoughts and asked Shinoda to think about a company they could start together. Rec vehicles were hot at the time and that’s what they decided on. They, along with Jim Musser, a top GM engineer, formed Rectrans. In 1971, Knudsen became Chairman of the Board of White Motor Company, Shinoda vice-president of Design, and Musser vice-president of engineering. Rectrans was absorbed by White. This all came from the lips of Larry Shinoda during an interview I did with him in late 1975 in his White office. When viewing a Rectrans today, keep in mind what competitors looked like at the time. My interview article included a color photo of a brand new Rectrans and it was, to my eye, quite a handsome vehicle considering the proportions of these hulks.

    Like 5
    • Bruce C. Sdunek

      Right On! I was the Chief Engineer later. We had the most advanced motorhomes on the market! The oil embargo destroyed the RV industry for a while and Rectrans was closed. Great company to work for. I went on to White Research before White closed.

      Like 2
    • Ed Stoner

      I was the urethane foam department foreman 70/71 until downsized in April. Worked hard in 70 to get first models off the line, even after a fire in the FRP/Urethane building, that required lots of work. I still think they’re cool looking.

      Like 2
  12. Lyle

    There is a guy in Southwestern Michigan that has had a pair of these on Craigslist for two years with no takers. When you are unwilling to split up these things it severely reduces the number of potential buyers. Also, having refinished one GMC and in the middle of a second, the cost to redo an aging motorhome that has been out of production for 40+ years is typically far more than the coach will ever be worth. What keeps the GMC owners group going is the incredible amount of support we get from the international club (GMCMI). The rectrans could be an interesting project… but plan to spend far more than you think to go through it properly.
    Just my 2.5 cents,
    Dr. Lyle

    Like 1
  13. Capt. Sam Wilson

    If they were near me in S. Ga. I would buy them to restore and sell depending on the engines and trannys etc. I can do the rest being a RV tech. Paint it silver for the Millennial’s and they will sell..

    Like 1
  14. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    It costs a lot of money to restore a motor home. I’ve been there done that. You can’t get Your money back. The biggest headache is electrical problems. It’s never ending. Most of this vintage had 20 amp breakers which isn’t enough. Most modern M.H. Manufacturers use 50 amp, and most R.V camps these days are setup for 50 amp.
    God bless America

    Like 1
    • Capt. Sam Wilson

      I am a RV Tech Every Day From 9am till 5PM… and most camps are set for 110/ 30 and 50 or just 110/30.. You can buy almost any adapter to be able to plug in your vehicle/camper to an AC source.. And if your at an RV camp that only has 50 amp.. lol. your in a big bus place and will probably be paying too much.. As far as most MH manufactures using 50 amp. only true of 38′ ish and up vehicles.. all the smaller units use 30 amp.. I own a 1978 GMC Royale. and love it/her.. Like I say. I work on them every day and bought a 41 year old one. That should tell you something..

      Like 3
  15. Wayne

    These were designed by Larry Shinoda. On my bucket list of vehicles to own – too bad they’re so far away!

  16. Del

    Yeah. Don’ t break up the set.

    Hahaha

    Breaking Bad wants the entire set 🏜

    Like 1
  17. Larry

    Where do you live Wayne? You buy em..ill drive them to you if they run

  18. Royal

    Funny how nobody speaks of the smaller 22′ to 24′ Rectrans that were built on the GM C-30 chassis with a 454V8 and whatever transmission that bolted up to that. This is what I have and I have never seen another in person although my friend did see one from VT on I-84 as he headed home one day from his job in Fishkill. I have only seen a couple of photos of these on the Yahoo Group board from back in the 1990’s. Apparently, the company went belly up shortly after they released the smaller models which were designed to compete with the very popular Winnebago.

    Like 1
    • Cassie

      Can you post some pictures of the exterior & interior of the shorter model that you have?

  19. Terry Bowman

    Sad to say, but someone may buy these for “just” the motors. Didn’t know Dodge still offered the 413 in the 70’s. I always thought they were the pre 440 and during the 413 wedge era. Guess the truck line still offered them, but why not just stuff a 440 in them, same RB block?

    • Jason

      Thats what i would do if i lived near there. 3 413’s

      Sounds like something id like to have.

  20. Larry Fairchild

    Update on the motorhome…he said come check them out and make a offer on one or all of them
    Just letting u guys know

    Like 2
  21. Big Mike

    I was offered a 72 some years back the insides had been redone about 5 years before, they had done them very nice, and it was actually sitting in a big shed, and kept out of the weather as such, the exterior was good for it age, but had a cracked front window,(from the owners grandson and a baseball I was told), the only major problem was the transmission had imploded itself, and was going to have to be replaced, not much of a problem but I did not want to take on the task, so I passed on it. The asking price was tow it away.

    Like 2
  22. Royal

    Mine is falling in on itself.

    Interior looks similar to the larger models.

    Exterior looks like the box in the back of the larger unit but with a fiberglass nose cap on the front.

    I will try to upload an image from Google.

    Like 1

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