Boeing Engineer Built: 1966 GMC Camper

There’s an interesting story behind this 1966 GMC Camper, actually there are a couple of interesting stories related to it. This home-built camper is listed on eBay in Portland, Oregon with an unmet opening bid of $4,999.

These were always such interesting campers for me as a kid, the chassis-mount rigs. The 1960s and 70s were the golden era of truck camping, in my opinion. Sure, modern campers are so much nicer, better engineered, safer, more luxurious, better laid out with nicer materials and equipment inside. But there’s something about the 1960s when these sorts of campers were coming out of the woodwork. Supposedly “a retired Boeing engineer built this by hand from a brand new GMC flatbed he bought in 1966.”

This is the only cab photo but it looks better in there than I expected it to. There’s a 4-speed manual shifter in there somewhere. The other interesting story with this GMC camper is that the seller “got this from a friend who has lived in it comfortably on his driveway for the past few years.” Ok, I think that’s interesting anyway. I dream about hitting the road and living in a camper like this someday, although not in or on my driveway.

I’m assuming that the Boeing engineer modified an existing camper, this one looks too finished and polished to have been home built to me. Thoughts? It looks like it has pretty much everything but it’s all pretty dated looking. Whether that’s a good or a bad thing is up to the next owner. The rear bed turns into the dining area and I’m assuming that one of the closed doors is, or was, a little bathroom.

The power under the perfectly-patina’d hood is a six-cylinder which I’m assuming is a 250 cubic-inch straight-six. There’s another interesting story about that, the seller “bypassed the mechanical fuel pump with an electric pump to get it driving. Upon going to a local auto parts store to buy a new mechanical one I realized by looking at the pictures that the previous owner installed it upside down. Cheap and possibly free fix. Truck drove surprisingly well and made it up one of the steepest hills in town without problem to where it currently sits overlooking the St Johns bridge here in NW Portland.” What are your thoughts on this home-built chassis-mount camper?

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  1. canadainmarkseh Member

    One of the first things I noticed is that someone has converted this engine over to HEI ignition which is a good thing. Second thing is this interior looks like a very well done home made interior. We are talking about an aviation engineer here from the 60’s. There is no reason to doubt that this is hand crafted. What a clean unit this is, there isn’t much is change inside except maybe seat cushions. As for a toilet is just buy a portable toilet. On the outside I’d repaint simple because it’s an ugly colour combo. As for under the hood I’d go with a 454cid and and Change up to a 5 speed overdrive manual transmission. With that 6 banger in there this thing would not be able to get out of its own way, just saying. I’ve seen a lot of old RV’s on this sight and most are junk but from what is visible from the pictures this isn’t one of them. There’s lots of potential here to have a viable vintage RV With a bit of work. If I was in the market I’d surely be bidding on this one.

  2. canadainmarkseh Member

    After reviewing the pics a second time it looks like some of the roof metal may well have been taken off of a school bus to get that rounded look. Just a thought.

  3. Mike

    I would paint over the patina because anywhere you park it (other than your driveway or campground), people will think you’re a homeless dude living in it.

  4. Beatnik Bedouin

    I agree with Mark that the camper has a lot of potential.

    I’m guessing that the engine’s a 292, judging by the location of the fuel pump. Even so, one would not be in a hurry driving this machine – call it ‘life in the slow-lane’…

  5. Mike B

    Is it ‘glass or aluminum? I’m assuming ‘glass since door, windows, hatches look like unpainted aluminum. Cool in it’s own right, but a little disappointing that, coming from an aerospace guy, it’s not more aerospacey. (aerospacish?)

  6. Lawyer George

    It probably gets about 5 miles per gallon and it does it slowly. I am amused how writers suggest changing mills. transmissions, painting it, etc.. All of that would would cost a fortune and buyer would still have an “old” truck, old suspension, no air-conditioning, manual steering, no safety features–e.g. airbags and providing those body embracing pickup full width front seat. And when the new owner is finished, he has a quirky truck worth about $6000.00.

  7. Bob C.

    A straight six? I figured being a GMC it would have the 305 v6 in it.

    • Stilbo

      I thought the same. My Dad ordered a new ‘66 GMC Custom Cab 1/2 ton fleetside with the 305 V6 and three on the tree. That engine was used by GMC in everything from pickups to large heavy dump trucks and 66 passenger school buses. It was simpler and tougher than many V8 engines of that era and Dad’s truck got an average of 19 mpg which was great considering the low technology and 27 cent per gallon gas back then . No need for a big block V8 or LT engine. And having pistons the size of coffee cans is pretty cool. There are still a lot of those 305 V6 engines in salvage yards.

  8. boxdin

    Kinda looks like they started w a Chinook. Same lines, size, rear cap.

  9. LAB3

    Not sure I’d do much other than make it run, turn and stop the way it’s supposed to. As to comments about looking like a homeless guy living in it, that would help keep the annoying people away.

  10. Mountainwoodie

    If that’s a 250 6 cylinder you’re going to need a hell of a taliwind to go uphill!

    Is the interior plywood or Birdseye Maple………ok… I know the answer. Other than changing the hideous sixties fabrics and painting the outside, some new appliances , arguendo the drivetrain and suspension is usable, you’re good to go.

    I kind of like the exterior compound curves ..wonder how it was made.

  11. Mick

    It must be a 250 because a 292 would have a water bypass hose & I don’t see one. The height of the air cleaner indicates a newer short carb which would fit with the HEI. My guess is the engine is newer than ’66. I’m pretty sure the fuel pump is correct for this engine.
    I have a ’55 3800 series with a flatbed and we haul a lot of things a lot of places with it’s 250 6. She does very well if you’re not in a huge hurry.

  12. ROTAG999

    Who needs a fuel pump with that gravity feed gas tank in the rad core support ala bunge……Shee—sh

  13. Alexander

    I saw the gas can in the engine bay and wondered why even talk about the fuel pump replacement? How about gas tank replacement or flush? The “p” on the hood looks a little like recent relic’ing done by the owner, which is suspect to me. Lots of relic’ing being done in the guitar and motorcycle world these days.

  14. George

    It didn’t get any bids. I think that this would be fun to play with.

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