Home Away From Home: 1973 GMC Eleganza Motorhome

Having tried their hand at manufacturing just about every conceivable vehicle, it was probably an inevitability that General Motors would turn their attention to motorhome production. The results of their labor were vehicles like this stylish 1973 Eleganza. When it was new, the design must have seemed futuristic, and even some 47-years after it first hit the road, the styling still holds up very well. This is a vehicle that offers the next owner the opportunity to holiday at the destination of their choice, and to experience this in a way that is both practical and comfortable. The Eleganza is located in Stanton, California, and listed for sale here on Barn Finds classifieds. The owner has set a BIN of $25,900 for this great home away from home.

It isn’t often that you can look at a motorhome and say that its styling has the “wow” factor, but that is true of the Eleganza. Unlike the vast majority of motorhomes that used third-party bodies mounted on frames sourced from vehicle manufacturers, the Eleganza was styled and built completely in-house by GM. This allowed it to not only achieve a more integrated look, but it allowed the company to employ some pretty innovative thinking. The body is constructed of fiberglass and aluminum, so rust is not an issue there. This is mounted on a cleverly designed frame, which permits the vehicle to have very low floors by industry standards at that point in time. Both the body and paint of the Eleganza look to be in really nice condition. There are no signs of any bumps, dings, or issues with the fiberglass. The side glass has all been upgraded and includes vented and screened pocket windows for improved interior ventilation. The remaining glass is all in good condition, while the same appears to be true of the bumpers. Adding a real touch of pizzazz to the vehicle is the inclusion of a set of genuine Alcoa alloy wheels, which are wrapped in Firestone tires.

Before you have the opportunity to enjoy your holiday destination, you have to get there in your home on wheels. You do this in the Eleganza in a driver’s compartment that is outfitted with a pair of exceptionally comfortable looking leather captain’s seats, both featuring power adjustments. The view is panoramic through the enormous windshield, while everything is designed for practicality and comfort. There are no obvious flaws or issues with the upholstery, carpet, or the dash. The latter features a shiny new set of upgraded gauges in a stylish timber cluster to monitor all aspects of the vehicle. The dash has also been fitted with a new handsfree Bluetooth entertainment system with an integrated back-up camera. This is a wise investment because I can’t say that I’m a great fan of the entire “reversing by braille” concept. You know? “Back…back…back…bang! Stop!”

Once you arrive at your destination, it is time to kick back and relax. As well as the screened windows, the Eleganza is fitted with a new roof-mounted air conditioning unit, allowing comfortable living in even the hottest of climates. The carpet on the floors is new, while the new kitchen cabinets look neat and crisp. The kitchen isn’t huge, but it features a sink, stove, and a brand new refrigerator. If I was to buy this Eleganza, the only addition that I would be tempted to make would be the installation of a convection microwave oven. That would make the kitchen even more practical for long-term accommodation. The ceiling has been finished in cork, which will reduce noise and provide improved insulation from the exterior weather conditions. Lighting has been upgraded throughout the interior to LED, meaning lower power consumption and less radiant heat. In the rear of the Eleganza, you will find a full-sized bed, while the couch folds out to allow an extra two sleeping spaces. There is also a bathroom with a shower, a new toilet, and a storage cabinet, and if the infrastructure of the vehicle remains original, there should be an on-board fresh-water tank with a 30-gallon capacity, along with an equivalent-sized holding tank. As well as having the ability to hook-up to 110-volt mains power, it appears that power can also be sourced from storage batteries and a 6,000-watt Onan generator.

There are no photos of the engine or underside of the vehicle, which is a shame because it was here that GM broke new ground. Most motorhomes of this era were bodies slapped on top of truck frames. General Motors wanted a more integrated package, so designed a frame specifically for the Eleganza. By utilizing a “bogie” system for mounting the rear wheels, and the Unified Powerplant Package that saw service in the Toronado and Eldorado, no allowances needed to be made for a driveshaft or a solid rear axle. This allowed for a significantly lower floor, which not only provided easier access than was available from their competitors, but significantly lowered the vehicle’s center of gravity. This made the vehicle far more stable and thus significantly safer than a conventional motorhome. The suspension is provided by airbags that can be adjusted manually and via remote control, and the system on this Eleganza has recently been renewed. Power was generally provided by either a 455 or a 403ci V8, but this one has been upgraded to the 500ci Cadillac V8. This should provide significant increases in both power and torque, allowing for easier open-road cruising. In addition, the Turbo Hydramatic 425 transmission has recently been rebuilt, while the brakes have come in for similar treatment. The owner provides this YouTube video of the Eleganza. It shows a good walk-around of the vehicle, along with footage of it running and driving. The engine sounds sweet and strong, while the transmission shifts smoothly. However, the thing that most impressed me in the video was the lack of squeaks and rattles when the Eleganza was up and moving. Older motorhomes can provide a veritable symphony of unwanted noises, but this one appears to be as tight as a drum.

Let’s face it, going on holiday can be an expensive proposition by the time you factor in travel, accommodation and catering costs. Vehicles like this 1973 Eleganza would seem to address these issues and allow you to holiday in style and comfort. This is a vehicle that would attract plenty of admiring glances because it really has a great look to it. Of course, adding a microwave oven could help to make this a great proposition for long-term living. So here’s an idea. If you are approaching the Golden Day of Retirement, why not dispose of your excess possessions, buy this Eleganza, hit the road, go wherever your heart desires, and proceed to spend the kid’s inheritance. That has to be a tempting proposition.

Comments

  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    Beautiful rig but they were never that high off the ground. They handle well stock but someone’s been tampering with the suspension. Check that before laying down the big bucks. Nicely done.

    Like 6
    • Adam Clarke Staff

      Yeah bobhess, I did notice that. It is supposed to be self-leveling, but the rear seems to be jacked up. I know that the airbags have been upgraded, and I was wondering whether they’ve manually raised it and not engaged the “auto” mode again. It’s a question worth asking. Thanks so much for the feedback and information.

      Like 7
  2. Howard A Member

    The original “elephant races”. ( note the times and bikes still on the back) Probably the nicest vintage motorhomes made.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FlzLasccanU

    Like 3
  3. CCFisher

    Very nice, but I would prefer a more original example. It’s just not the same without that groovy 70’s interior.

    Like 2
  4. Billy Massey

    Actually, this is/was a Glacier model if it really matters anymore. The Eleganza was not made until 1975. And, yes, it looks like the bags are at max air pressure. I know the owner of the last 20 years and can say his ability and reputation is impeccable.
    gmcmhregistry.com

    Like 9
  5. Dale Davis Member

    Seller here. Yep and Yep. We figured out how to lower the airbags and it’s level now. Also, Yep we learned today that it actually is the Glacier model. This was Frank’s. He stopped by to say hello last week and liked how we finished up his project. It’s easily one of the best driving GMCs I’ve been in. That big caddy really wakes the coach up.

    Like 15
  6. wrbrower

    Always reminds me of the movie Stripes.

    Like 6
    • lawrence f kniveton

      Welcome to It-aly gentlemen. It’s like going to Wisconsin. Any of you homos touch my stuff…I’ll kill ya. I’m gettin’ too old for this sh*t. We’re not parking it, we’re abandoning it. No, but we’re willing to learn. Where the f*cks my truck? Have that removed. I wish I was a luffer. Is there a movie on this flight stewardess? I swallowed a lot of aggression, and a lot of pizzas. Chicks in New York are paying top dollar for this crap. I’m pacing myself sergeant. That’s just me, I’m an aggressive gambler I’m a lean mean fightn’ machine. Big toe. I’d love to take a swipe at you sarge. We’re ten and one. Blown up sir! Boom chuckalaka. I could go on and on, one of the most quotable movies ever.

      Like 7
      • Rob M.

        Watched it last night. Barnicke? He still owes me money! Tried to give my wife the Aunt Jemima treatment once. hehehe

        Like 2
  7. James

    Have one and they are great, travelled across the country a few times and never a worry. They are great for wheelchair access at a low cost cuz of the low floor. They have major parts support and new ideas coming up all the time. Check the Facebook groups and any issues almost anywhere there is help thru The GMC Blacklist. They are being shipped to Europe, Australia etc

    Like 3
  8. BR

    Should be blue and white with a dog on the sides.

  9. Terry L Kane

    I have always considered getting one of these, when new and since as a vintage motorhome but never pulled the trigger. So I’m new to the specifics but if the power plant was replaced wouldn’t it be better to have gone with a diesel ?

  10. moosie moosie

    I’m thinking the only bad part of this coach is those ugly G-10 van taillights. Everything else is perfect as is. I’d love to tour in this, never coming home.

  11. Louis Chen

    I was “In Love with this Space Ship” looking motorhome when came out (73/74?). I did actually did went to check it out at one of the auto/motor home show. After the walk thru and had a demo drive, I was hooked! Through my friend and neighbor we went into partnership and bought one! It was quiet and smooth power even with 455 V-8! Luckily, our partnership lasted until my friend/neighbor passed away last year. Now I still have it-I basically did all of the repairs & maintenance on it and I still use it for my various road/adventures with my family. My children still refer to it the BUBBLE/STARSHIP MOTORHOME. The last long distance RVing trip driving on the Trans Alaskan Highway in which my family and my friend/neighbor made a promise that we all have to make this trip before we Die. Luckily my Buddy was able to make it before he passed. Anyone out there who is looking for a “spacey/starship” motorhome/RV should seriously consider a really good product that GM ever made! Happy trails before the price of gas sky rocket again! No problems with parts/service and prices are reasonable thru the GMC dealers.

    Like 1
  12. Bob McK Member

    This rig actually looks like it was built recently. It has aged much better than I have.

    Like 2
  13. Gary Haddon

    There’s a dealer in Okeechobee fl. that sells, repairs and has a parts dept. Has many restored for sale as well as parts units available.

  14. Wayne

    Had a very early production unit in the family for many years. I made every single repair that you could think of. I wish it had been a 1975 or newer model. That way I would have not had to make the rear control arm bushings. ( originals were Teflon inpregnated woven cloth with steel inner and outer sleeves) They were solid bronze bearing/bushings with spiral grease tracks when done. Having had a 500 Caddy in a GMC crew cab pickup, I have recommended this swap to other GMC motor home owners also. ( never got around to putting one in the motor home) The Cadd is physically smaller than the Olds engine, so it actually makes a little more room in the engine bay. Setting the height adjustment for the rear ride height is no big deal.

  15. Roseland Pete

    Love the vehicle but is that an Olds steering wheel? Also, I noticed there’s a cigarette lighter but what happened to the ashtray?

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