68k Mile 1972 Bluebird Wanderlodge

Talk about the ultimate Family Truckster! Can you imagine taking this huge 1972 Bluebird Wanderlodge RV cross-country? I’m not sure what the MSRP was back then, but you can bet this was a luxury RV that came at a hefty price. According to NADA “In 1963, transit and school bus producer Blue Bird Company entered the recreational vehicle industry with Wanderlodge Class A motorhomes…After 46 years of recognition as a luxury coachbuilder for customers that included many elite names, Wanderlodge ended production of gasoline and diesel motorhomes in 2009.” This one can be found here on eBay with a current bid of $4,150. Located in Largo, Florida, the ad says it is nearly all original and is being sold at no reserve. Have a look at this behemoth!

Here is a good shot of the dual captain’s chairs upfront. From this vantage point, it doesn’t look much different than your typical RV. The gauges are laid out to provide the driver with all the information they need.

It’s a little hard to tell from the photos exactly what the floor plan of this Wanderlodge is. You can tell there is a couch (with seatbelts) behind the driver’s seat with a table and a single chair behind the front passenger seat. The middle of the bus houses a dinette and kitchen and the rear looks like it contains the bedroom with a pair of twin-size beds. The seller makes a point of saying that nearly everything is original including the shag carpeting, drapes, and upholstery.

Somewhere in the middle, you’ll find the restroom. It looks pretty well-appointed with a commode, sink (with plenty of counter space), and a shower stall.

Here you can see just how long this motorhome is. The center-mounted door makes access a little more user-friendly than what you would have on a bus conversion. The roof rack looks massive and could probably haul a house load of furniture. There are some great photos in the ad depicting advertisements from back when the Wanderlodge was new. I bet this thing was a shiny beast back then! What do you think?

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Comments

  1. alphasud Member

    I was intrigued by this motor home. Since it was built on a school bus chassis I figured this would be built to commercial standards and be more reliable. I found out this was one of the first series which had a front engine design. Power is from a Ford Super Duty V8. Three displacements were offered 401,477, and 534 cubes. Engines were governed to 3400RPM’s and had sodium filled exhaust valves. No doubt a very durable power plant but given the weight of the coach and gas powered I think the best fuel mileage you would see if 5mpg! That might only happen down hill in a vacuum!

    Like 17
    • Hank Johnson

      I’ll take it on trips and to the beach

      Like 1
  2. Howard A Member

    Bluebirds were pretty high class, kind of the Kenworth/Peterbilt of buses. I need a hood, so I stay clear of any of these “cabover” renditions, and a V8 gas job and these “old” Allison automatics, HAD to be a poor choice. I think they found that out later, and perhaps the alleged “low” miles for a motorhome, especially one this nice. Here’s the one time I say, go with the Cummins swap,,,

    Like 9
  3. Moparman Member

    I wonder how a paint job for this behemoth would cost? Although its’ furnishings are intact, closer scrutiny shows that some TLC and deep cleaning would be needed. Previous owner was a veteran. At $4,100 now. GLWTA!! :-)

    Like 2
  4. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    When I saw this, what flashed in my mind from my youth was the Bookmobile. Might it have been built from a similar Bluebird? Based on Howard’s comment about their status, I’m kind of intrigued…. my growing-up area was very rural and humble and blue-collar, and a “high class” Bluebird Bookmobile doesn’t seem to fit.

    Like 3
    • Terry Melvin

      Bluebird did build some Bookmobiles.

      Like 4
    • Alan Volk

      These were built in the standard school bus manner other than the modification need to make it Motorhome. A Bookmobile would have been along the same lines. I worked for Blue Bird at their Canadian Plant. We did the odd Bookmobile while the Motorhomes were built in the Fort Valley, GA.

      Like 1
      • Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

        Thank you Alan and Terry. I’m always amazed at the collective knowledge and experience of the Barn Finds readership.

      • Snuffy Smiff

        I have more than a few relatives (living and passed on) that have worked at Blue Bird and/or Wander Lodge in Fort Valley, GA. My father was born and raised on a farm in nearby Knoxville. There was even a campground of sorts behind the WL building where the full timer owners could stay whilst having their engines rebuilt along with permanet coaches they could stay in if they were having their own coach interiors upgraded. It was quite a grand place back in the day. All gone now thanks to misguided corporate clowns…

  5. BlackTa

    Is that carpet or sod?

    Like 7
    • Phlathead Phil

      Actually, it might be Astro-turf! Doubt any overnight park would let this thing in.

      Like 3
  6. Terry Melvin

    If it had a Detroit 671 diesel or bigger, I’d say it was a good coach. But if gas powered? Forget it.

    Like 5
  7. Dave

    You folks have to remember when this was built. The minimum wage was $2 per hour and that bought 10 gallons of gas. Turbos had yet to make an appearance in OTR diesels and they were slugs on hills. The only reason diesels pushed gas engines out was that diesel was typically 15 cents a gallon. Ford used to sell tons of gas-powered cabover tractors.

    Like 10
    • Howard A Member

      That’s true, diesel was inherently cheaper than gas, but in ’72, turbos were indeed out there. I’d say turbochargers came out in the 60’s and revolutionized the industry. It’s interesting to note, Ford was the last truck maker to offer a diesel. I think the “2story Falcon” ( H series) like early 60’s, was the 1st Ford diesel from the factory. I think the biggest commercial Ford gas V8 was, like alphasud sez, a 534, and would have helped here some.

      Like 3
    • Matt G

      Adjusted for inflation, the gas price in 1972 is about $2.23 in today’s dollars. The average price of gas in 2020 is about $2.30, so not much difference.

      That being said it is true that minimum wage has not done a good job of keeping up with inflation.

  8. Claudio

    Not miles to the gallon but gallons to the mile !

    Like 5
  9. Eric_13cars Eric_13cars Member

    I mean if you want an RV and can get this for less than $5K or so, renewing the engine with a modern turbo diesel and replacing the transmission at the same time….do up the interior a bit….Could you get away with less than $50K for that? What can you buy today for that kind of money?

    Like 7
    • Phlathead Phil

      A brand new one or close to that. Walk away from this monster FAST!

  10. The One

    OK, so where do you park this dang thing? I think my neighbors would have a fit!!

  11. AlaninTn.

    George Jones toured in one of these for a while. Cheaper than a Silver Eagle. Also cheaper to maintain. His band toured in a separate bus.

  12. Gus Fring

    I owned a 6V92 Silver Detroit Diesel pusher version with a tag axle. It was the absolute ultimate coach and brought nearly $40K when I sold it. It was a 1985 and this was in about 2010. It was in beautiful shape. This one, being a gas-powered, front-engined variation would not be desirable unless, as stated, someone wants to spend a lot of money converting it perhaps.

    Like 2
  13. Bob Mck Member

    Very cool rig!

  14. Russ Ashley

    This was top of the motorhome line. If you had the money to buy it when it was new you didn’t worry about the gas mileage, as gas was cheap before the Carter years. I had a 70 Winnebago Indian with a Chrysler 440 engine when this one was new and remember how much I wished I could afford one like it.

    Like 3
  15. Martin

    I own one. Mine is a 1981 and by then they had gone to a 3208 Cat diesel and air brakes. The problem with this one is not lack of power so much as lack of brakes, as it will have hydraulic drums which are obsolete and even when rebuilt do not do much to stop 30,000 pounds. But if you need something to tool down to the local State park for a long weekend it would be quite awesome. But prepare for every person in the camp ground to stop by to look and ask questions. We even have people on the highway taking video from time to time.

    Like 3
  16. dab

    How many times has that thing been underwater?

  17. kenn

    Phlathead Phil, why do you feel no overnite park would let this in? Just ’cause you don’t like it? Why not? Also, $50K comes no where near buying “A new one, or close to that”. Leave your computer for awhile and check out motor home costs. Large motor home costs.

    Like 1

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