House On Wheels: 1977 GMC Glenbrook

00J0J_uXKMFy8VV_600x450

General Motors was once the biggest company in America, and over its long and storied history, it has at various times made almost every kind of vehicle imaginable. The GMC Motorhome was manufactured by GM’s truck and coach division from 1973 through 1978. These “coaches” were beautifully designed and outfitted and were in many ways ahead of their time. They were front wheel driven using by then tried and true Oldsmobile drivetrains from the Toronado, and their bodies were low profile and fully integrated, looking pretty cool even to this day.

00808_kri7ugBXYOn_600x450

GMC motorhomes of this era have many fans today, and quite a few of them are still on the road, many of which have been refurbished, modernized and refitted to continue to serve their original purposes as homes on wheels.

00i0i_givAxKsvQLs_600x450

There were a number of configurations built over the years; some at 23 feet, but most were 26 feet long. This 26 foot long Glenbrook model is striking in what looks to be its original yellow color. It’s been in storage for quite some time and is now for sale on here on craigslist in Ontario (San Bernardino County, east of LA), California.

00p0p_gcbsm4lJkxl_600x450

The seller shows the motorhome apparently being taken out of storage and put onto a trailer, perhaps it’s not currently a runner, but the ad does not say anything about its driveability. It’s claimed to be in excellent condition and stored for more than 15 years. It features a side shower bathroom, new carpeting, new upholstery and new window coverings (which all look to have been done in original ’70s style.)

This GMC also has a dual roof AC unit, a refrigerator that runs on AC, DC or gas, plus there’s a custom rear bike rack, an Onan generator, new batteries, a solar roof charging system, flat screen TV, new radial tires, microwave, alarm system, all service records, and the seller even includes a cover. Maybe it does run after all. Hopefully, after it was taken out of storage, all mechanical systems were refreshed, but maybe not, since the asking price is only $8,000 and the pictures show it on a trailer. And yes, the seller will listen to offers.

00y0y_jmRtlg7DKbt_600x450

This is another example of the frequently seen “moving, must sell” ad.

With a fiberglass and aluminum body, these coaches don’t rust and have excellent body integrity. Since it comes from a dry inland California climate, there may not be a lot of rust underneath, though it looks to have been stored in a concrete garage, so inspection will be needed. Still, at the price, this particular GMC motorhome might be something of a bargain for a new owner. With the “tiny home” concept such a big thing nowadays, why not drive this coach to a pretty piece of land and just live in it? You can’t buy or build even a small house for this kind of money.

WANT ADS

WANTED 1973 Plymouth 340 Duster Looking for a 1973 Plymouth Duster, 4 speed, with factory sunroof. Any condition in the East Coast. Contact

WANTED 1973-1974 Pontiac Grand AM Looking for a solid car. Contact

WANTED 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS Have cash in hand. Call 573-541-1970 or email collectorcarsandparts@yahoo.com Contact

WANTED 1974-75 Toyota Corolla E5 Yellow, Black Interior, 5 speed. Rust free, any location in US Contact

WANTED 1969 Plymouth Roadrunner Looking for parts for this project. Especially seats Contact

Submit Your Want Ad

Comments

  1. Liam

    I would love this if I lived stateside. I am a fan of these, and know of one in the UK, sat in a barn for many years, but the cost of restoring it would probably be 3 times the cost of buying this one in CA. The ad is 2 months old, so I wonder if it has since sold…..

  2. Terry J

    Having been in the RV manufacturing biz for decades long past (Fleetwood and Beaver Coaches) I think I’ve see about everything built at one time or another but haven’t come across a front wheel drive Motorhome before. I have however seen couple of different coaches that used the Toronado drivetrain (sans steering) in the rear as a pusher. This Glenbrook is cool and at only 26′ still fairly compact to motor around in. :-) Terry J

    • booya

      There have been more than a few FWD coaches. One of the first was the Cortez. It first used a Clark forklift transaxle connected to a Dodge slant-six. Revcon used the Toronado drivetrain just like the GMC. When the Toro downsized, Revcon made their own setup using a Chevy 454, a THM400, and an NP205 transfer case. Winnebago had their LeSharos built on Renault and VW FWD chassis. FWD motorhomes are really pretty common.

  3. ydnar

    This is now on my list of RV’s when I start searching. Forgot all about them, and learned more as well. Thank you.

    • Howard A Member

      Hi ydnar, this had an air ride rear suspension, that provided one of the best motorhome rides in the industry. Most motorhomes I drove were based off a truck frame and rode like one. I think most motorhomes have air ride now.

      • Ed P

        Most diesel pushers have been built with air ride suspension. Gas engine models are still on steel springs. To my knowledge, Ford is the last builder of gas motorhome chassis. And, mine rides like a truck.

  4. GearHead Engineering

    Motor home? That’s no motor home. It’s an Urban Assault Vehicle.

    Do the missile launchers work? If not, that will be expensive to fix.

    – John

    • van

      Slept late feal great
      Boom shakalaka

      • booya

        It’s the BattleTram.

  5. Dave Wright

    These have always been cool. They were not alone as front wheel drive motor home but probably the most common. Clark forklift built a line of motor homes with interesting drives as did The defense contractor FMC. I think Allergro built some front drive coaches as well. These were all expensive high quality machines that had a limited market because of cost. I would bet that GMC built more of theses than the others combined. The advantages of front or rear engine rear wheel drive are huge. It enables the designers to build low coaches with good headroom that handle well. In my experiance, I want to tow something behind my coach and frequently this style does not have the structure in the rear to support heavy trailers. My soultion was to use MCI bus conversions. They have strong frame members in the rear and are built with semi truck components. The rear engines give flat floors and 1300 ft lbs of torque is fun too.

    • Tony B

      FMC made a low slung motorhome using a rear engine and rear drive set up. GMC had front engine and front drive. Without an a/c on roof GMC was just over 9 feet tall.

    • George

      The FMC was a rear engine pusher with an industrial 440 and 727 transmission.

  6. Matt Tritt

    Terry J. – There were actually several FWD motorhomes produced in the states from 64 onward. The most famous was the Clarke Cortez, which was powered by an industrial Chrysler slant-six connected to the road with Clarke forklift’s own 4 speed transaxle. Clarke sold out in 69 and the Cortez was produced with the Toronado FWD package into the late 70’s. The main issue with the Cortez is the all steel body, which was not adequately rust-proofed. Probably the best FWD motorhome ever made, though, was the early Revcon “flatnose”, which was produced from 71 through 76, when it gained a radical sloping front end. They are mainly aluminum skinned with a full steel cage and have a very low center of gravity that gives them extraordinary handling. The man behind the Revcon was John Hall, who had been production manager at Airstream for a long time. Hall also produced the Hall GTC – a class C fiberglass body fitted to a Dodge B-300 cab and chassis. I own one of these.

    • booya

      I remember the Revcon well. It nearly killed me and my family. Good times!

  7. Rich

    Anyone else have the “Stripes” theme in their head now??

  8. Charles

    These were awesome driving coaches with the durable Olds 455, FWD, and low center of gravity. The only drawback of these are the front wheel bearings. GMC used the same FWD setup as the Toronado and the front wheel bearings have a life span of 30K miles. The other issue is that the GMC coach is designed to tow 1000 pounds or less, so it is not recommend that one tow a car behind like many RV owners do.

    • Gary Oliver

      Your information is very interesting Charles. Made me cool my heels to drive up there to look at this rig. I bet those wheel bearings are very expensive and how inconvenient not to be able to tow a small car.

      • Duncan Millar

        Gary Oliver. They can pull a towed vehicle such as aTracker and many people do, The wheel bearings are at any auto parts store and very reasonable price.
        I am more than half way through my restoration of my 1977 GMC Royale. There are many owners and clubs throughout the US and other countries for support.

      • Wayne S.K.

        I saw what you did there, Gary… ;)

      • Dave

        They are recommended to be serviced every 25000 miles. With proper service they last much longer.

    • Fred V.

      I’ve had one of these for 10 years. They have a fix for the front bearings by adding zerk fittings so you can lub the bearings. They now can last 100,000 miles. I’ve been towing a Scion XB for 10 years. There are higher ratio final drive gears available now to help with towing. do some research; these are amazing motorhomes.

    • Charles

      Wheel bearing replacement is not too bad. The bearings press into a housing that bolts into place. Remove the bearings and housing with basic hand tools, take the assembly to a machine shop and have new bearings pressed in. Then re-install.

      GMC are the ones who set the tow limits. One probably can flat tow a very small lightweight car with no problems. A flat tow means all four wheels of the car are on the ground or a car caddy, and the motorhome is not carrying a tongue weight of a trailer. The air suspension is not designed to carry extra weight over and above the cargo and passengers inside of the coach.

  9. Brian

    I own one of these. The RV was way overbuilt. Meaning it was built to stand the test of time. Also there is a huge group of great people around the country that support one another. The best thing I did was buy one of these and restored it. Have had great times in it and have plans for many more.

  10. AMC STEVE

    HAHAHAHA way kewl Howard, pretty darn fast too

  11. MountainMan

    Have always liked these. They have held value for quite some time and this one seems priced very reasonable even if it has some mechanical needs. It looks to have been well cared for and thats a good sign. RV maintenance is pricey when taken to the shop so an owner who follows a maintenance schedule has spent lots of dollars that the next owner will benefit from. The RV I currently have was owned by a couple who kept it maintained and also replaced the trans when it gave them some trouble. I paid just about what the previous owner had spent in maintenance and such over the year previous to my purchase. The result has been a trouble free first year of ownership and a trip from North Carolina to Washington state without any issues.

  12. jay

    A one ton Dodge to pull the trailer with a motor home on it? Cummins or no Cummins, it’ll be working it’s guts out.There better be good operating brakes on this rig.

  13. Fogline

    Wondering if it will pass smog and maybe that is why it hasn’t sold. Two years older and you wouldn’t have to worry about it. Seems like a good deal if it passes.

  14. Rob

    Drove one like this back in ’74; handled mountain roads with ease too. If I didn’t live in Montana now, had a few extra $$’s not already slated for another ‘project’.

    As far as it being still available as someone mentioned, at the bottom of that ad it says the listing was Updated 12 days ago, i.e. on 01-19-2016, @ 9:32am, so I’d say yep, it’s still for sale.

  15. jim s

    these are from a time frame when the national speed limit, for the most part, was 55 MPH. are they able to run at today highway speeds? i like these and the people i know, who had them ” back in the day “, liked/loved them. i think a PI by someone who knows these would be needed before a offer was made. great find.

    • ydnar

      Good point, but these are not real stable much over 55MPH anyway, I would not think. I drove a real nice new one with a 5 cyl MB diesel in it, and I would not feel safe much over 60-65.

      • Guy Lopes

        These GMC motorhomes never left the factory with a diesel. Olds 455 from introduction until mid 1977, then a Olds 403 until production ceased in 1978.

    • Guy Lopes

      Jim,

      I have owned four of these and can attest to the fact that they’ll move down the road just fine. My second one had a stripped interior. One early Sunday morning on a totally empty freeway in the middle of nowhere I opened it up to see what it would do… 92 mph.

      Guy

      • jim s

        thanks

  16. Bobsmyuncle

    Seems to be some great knowledge here. Anyone have some good sites or forums to check out vintage RVs?

  17. Rich Truesdell

    If you have an interest in these GMC MotorHomes, you might enjoy treading this that I wrote four years ago.

    http://automotivetraveler.com/magazine/viewer.php?path=2011/04/GMC_Motorhomes

    • Bobsmyuncle

      Great article thanks for offering it up. Interesting site that I’ll check out further too.

    • Matt Tritt

      Great article Rich! You pointed out something in it that might be germaine to this discussion; that the ’77 has a down-sized 403. Hmm I’ve heard not great things about the late 403/FWD package as compared to the early models. Do you know if that’s the case?

  18. Matt Tritt

    There are a number of sites dedicated to vintage RV’s on the net. There’s at least one for these old GM’s, at least one for Cortez, one for Revcon (still the best), one or two for FMC (also up there with the best), one for Travco, which built more than most of the others combined, one for Balboa, one for Hall GTC and one for Winnebago….. There are also a number of groups dedicated to restoration, preservation and motor camping in general – but you’ll need to hunker down at the keyboard and do some googling. Many are limited owner’s groups that require joining. You might want to check out goodoldrvs.ning.com

    • Bobsmyuncle

      Great site and some direct links to others. Thanks!

    • Guy Lopes

      Matt,

      I love your “best” reference to the Revcon. Being an owner, I would expect nothing less from you! Haha But, I’m a GMC owner and I consider it to be the best. Dozens of web sites, blogs, vlogs, a dozen or so shops across the country dedicated to servicing these fine coaches, user groups, GMC MH parts suppliers, and the largest sub-group of the FMCA (Family Motor Coach Assoc.) of any specific vehicle. Also, 13,000 manufactured and over 8,000 known to still exist. How many Revcons are still on the road? Do you have a list that you can carry with you of almost 1,000 Revcon owners across the country who are willing to help fellow Revcon owners in their neck of the woods?

      All in good fun. “Best” is obviously subjective, but the GMC has a HUGE following, for many reasons.

      But the Revcon IS almost as cool looking as the GMC – wink.

  19. Jim

    When retirement comes what better way to tour the country, stop and go when you want, go where you want and there’s plenty of places to park overnight. I worked on a 68(?) Toronado with a friend about 3-4yrs ago, if I remember right the Timken hub/bearing was about $80.00 ea and the Chinese(if you’re daring) were $65.00 es. Both were available through AutoZone or ebay. I also recall two or three final drive gear ratios were available for the transaxle, maybe a transmission guy will know better.

  20. Rick

    The main issue is the Transmission. Yes, a Toronado drivetrain, But the gearing was different to accommodate the increased weight. The gearing may no longer be available. Have seen many parked because of this. A Toronado tranny will get it home

    • Guy Lopes

      Rick, Actually, GMC didn’t change the gearing. They used the same gearing that the Tornado used, which turned out to be a mistake. However it’s really a non-issue now. Several gear ratios are available for the GMC depending on where you travel, what you like to tow, etc. Trannys and parts are readily available.

      • Jim

        Parts are available as well as gear set from North West Transmission and FATSCO. I’ve found both to be invaluable in older trans repairs, also shop around older trans shops, they tend to not throw anything out if it’s usable or a good core. Just ideas.

  21. Peter Atherton

    Does anyone remember the short-lived BMW Vixen??They were much smaller,powered with the BMW diesel.

  22. Matt Tritt

    Guy – Ha! It’s the old GMC vs Revcon debate! I like both of them a lot – but the reason I prefer the- dare I say it – Revcon a wee bit more is that it has more outside storage lockers and many versions have very yacht-like interiors. Being a former yachtie, I go for things that have a lot of teak. ;-)

    BUT. I don’t own a Revcon; it’s a Hall GTC, which has a much less exotic drivetrain and chassis than either GMC or Revcon in the form of a Dodge factory lengthened B-300 cab and chassis. This means that, even though the cool factor is lower, I can find any running gear part I might need at NAPA or on the net without having to make a virgin sacrifice to the motorhome gods. The GTC was only in production for 200 + – units due to a very high initial price and the 73 oil embargo – not to mention the worst advertising campaign in the history of the world. We have a website at hallgtc.com

    • Guy Lopes

      Matt, The age-old argument about the “best” indeed. I freely admit that the Revcon is cool, with many followers. I understand that the rear engine/radiator setup has a few cooling issues. The GMCs do too, though nothing like the Revcon issues.

      I like all classic RVs. They are just so cool! I chose the GMC for many reasons, but the online and face-to-face support is what initially won me over.

      Matt, the GTC is a very cool machne! It reminds me somewhat of the Chevy and GMC class B competitors from the same time frame? These were actually my second choice. Parts availability is a huge plus too, and something that the GMC and GTC have in common.

  23. Matt Tritt

    Peter – Of course! There are a number of them here in San Luis Obispo county. Very cool machines!

  24. Matt Tritt

    Guy – Actually, the Revcon has the same setup as the GMC: Toronado FED unit. FMC is the one with the RWD 440 Dodge with a 727 Torqueflite transmission. I’ve been lusting after a FMC for a few years now, but 29′ is just too much for happy camping. The 727 is probably one of the best truck/RV transmissions ever made – if not The best.

    • Guy Lopes

      I stand corrected! Thanks for setting me straight Matt.

  25. Mathieu Belanger

    Seen one last summer, owner says he had problems with the rear suspension as parts were non-existent. Really an impressive RV!

    • Guy Lopes

      Mathieu,

      That GMC owner was sorely misinformed then. Not only are the original style air bags still available, but there are at least five totally new type of air bag systems avaiable for the GMC. Sad

  26. Charles

    The GMC coach is my favorite of the FWD motorhomes. Revcon is a nice coach also, however I think that the GMC is slightly better and is well supported. Cortez is a steel bodied coach and although a very nice compact motorhome will rust to death if driven on salted roads or near the beach. The Olds transaxle shares some parts with the old reliable GM Turbo 400, and parts are not an issue. Aftermarket support is outstanding. I have personally driven one of these at 90 MPH and it was very stable. It has brakes on three axles. These were outfitted with a 16.5 inch wheel that used a Michelin E rated low profile light truck tire. Many years ago we followed a GMC on the Blue Ridge Parkway from NC to VA in a car and had to work the car to stay up with the motorhome. Unless you have driven one of these, there is no way to understand just how well mannered these are on the highway. Compared to the class A coaches of the day which were built on the same chassis as a bread truck, there is no comparison. Several RV builders offered versions of built FWD motorhomes, and some were a joke. The one that sticks in my mind is a Coachman that used an F-250 chassis. They built a block off plate to fit on the 4×4 transfer case where the driveshaft exited for the rear wheels in a pickup. They permanently locked the transfer case into 4WD HI range and drove the motorhome through the F-250 front diff. The thing was powered by a 351 Windsor engine. Many of the parts were fine, but the execution was a disaster.

    • Matt Tritt

      Yes – the Cortez’ steel construction makes them a challenge to maintain for sure. Clarke should have used spray foam insulation to prevent the body-killing condensation that attacks the inside of the roof to sides joint, or used galvanized steel like Superior Coach did. I still think that the early Revcon is at least equal to the GMC for the following reasons: plenty of outside access storage compartments, whereas the GMC has none. Lower center of gravity for even more over the top cornering. All steel rollcage inner frame and more interior storage space. It also has springs!

      • Jim

        I hope the spray foam is better than the crap GM is using on its trucks since ’92 anyway. I’ve helped some rust repairs on a few and the spray foam sealant/adhesive they use in the pickup bedsides and Suburban/Tahoe quarter panels and rockers holds moisture like a sponge. Absolutely disgusting, I’ve pulled out chunks and could squeeze out the liquid! But no recall! Trucks here in the northeast rust while you watch. Ford doesn’t seem to be any better but they use a rubbery sealant. On my own ’99 Tahoe I’ve had almost 12yrs I’ve opened the door panels and quarters, rockers and cleaned out the drain holes every year and still have rust starting on the inside of two back doors and rockers. Yes it’s a ’99 but I’ve worked on a 2011 Yukon that was worse. I’m just venting LOL, any body repairs I’ve done everything I use the canned brush on sealant on a cleaned, primed surface from the auto body supply and never had an issue, even after 20yrs

  27. Woodie Man

    Dear BF’s

    I inquired of the seller and received a very nice reply. Seller sounds like a very upfront guy. I wish I could buy this!

    “Yes it is road worthy, It is currently located in storage facility across from our new location in Riverside, just drove it over from Ontario last Month. Company is open Monday-Thursday normally 5am-4pm. I live in Oregon and am only down most weeks Monday-Thursday as well, just arrived at office an hour ago and head out Thursday’s by noon. Earlier Mondays and later on Thursdays one of my crew can show you the unit.

    Absolutely NO RUST. This was stored inside RV Garage for almost 18 years in Arizona, interior completely re-done including carpet just before parked. Completely functional, everything including dual AC units, refrigerator, generator work. New tires, all service receipts ect and manuals. Father had it pulled out of storage like 8-9 years ago and had it completely gone through then parked it again. Little over a year ago I had it transported to our company here in Ontario California to go through it. I have not had time, stored it as pictured off the suspension on jack stands. We are now moving to a new building with no yard and no place to store and as I mentioned I have no time. My father passed away so my desire also to use it is also gone. I have had it completely gone through again and it is fully drivable and operational, in fact had it out last week. Title is free and clear from father/Arizona. Registration is not current (2009), simply been parked. California does not care about expired since it was out of state and would simply do on value. Could write duplicate bill of sale for whatever. Also if we date it January 2016 it will no longer require smog.

    3 issues only:

    1. Body needs a good wax job to shine up gelcoat

    2. During storage in AZ garage had 2 west facing windows my mother refused to put window covers on, the sun had slightly faded a couple spots, material is fine and a simply die will restore.

    3. Last week while testing suspension air pumps it was parked in back of building and was hit by a FedEx truck. Almost 40 years with no accidents and first time driven in 18 years it was hit. Small 8” square dent in rear, estimate about $400-600 to repair per fiberglass/boat places I have talked to. Still fighting FedEx, so I am willing to sell for $8k as I will not have a place to store it. Let me know if you have any questions or want to view it, must sell!”

  28. krash

    Q. (Given it has front wheel drive) how do these perform in slick/wet or snowy conditions….

    (Sounds like a silly question but I live in the Northeast and I like this rig).

  29. Jim

    I’m in NYC, I’ve driven a few when I was a truck mechanic at an International Truck(Navistar) dealer. Like any front wheel drive car the front wheels pulling with the weight of the engine over them is a big advantage over rear wheel pushing and the front tires sometimes going where they want. But it is a long box and the back end may try to come around if you brake hard on less than ideal road surface. I say get one and see the sights, the mountains here in the northeast are beautiful as well as the rest of the country. Good luck

  30. Charles

    This unit sounds like a good buy! I’d love to own it, but it will be cost prohibitive to have it shipped across the country.

    • Matt Tritt

      Drive it home! By the time you got back you’d definitely everything about your RV. ;-)

    • Guy Lopes

      Charles, There are plenty of these available around the country. If you’re seriously considering purchasing one, feel free to email me and I can help put you on track to see many.

      Guy

      tawptool@surewest.net

      • Charles

        Thanks Guy,

        There is a GMC for sale in our town that is not in bad condition. I like the looks of the one in this post better. Other than some replaced items this one looks pretty much original. I have worked on several GMC motorhomes over the years and am familiar with them.

        In 1989 on one GMC coach that suffered an engine failure due to an overheating issue due to a poorly maintained cooling system I installed a 500 Cadillac engine in a GMC with some mods. The owner bought an Eldorado donor car. I removed the engine and it was sent to a rebuilder for a complete overhaul and updates. The engine made 420 HP after being reworked and just a tad over 500 foot lbs torque. The transmission was beefed up also, and so were the wheel bearings through some very creative machine work. We had zerk fittings added so that the wheel bearings could be greased with the chassis parts. It made for a spirited ride in a motorhome.

        I had considered a GMC a few years ago and decided not to purchase one because of the limited towing capacity. We tow a high performance boat that weighs 6K including the trailer with fuel and gear. We ended up buying a Lance slide in camper and placed it on an F350 crew-cab dually 4×4 that we already own. The Lance is fully self contained with a generator, solar panel, satellite TV. It is not as stylish as the GMC, but is a tough little rig that does what we need it to.

        This coach will no doubt make someone a nice vintage motorhome.

  31. Charles

    There would be another advantage, at least for me to consider a GMC. We are members of a couple of Pontiac Clubs and attend several Pontiac themed car shows every year. We have two Pontiac Trans AM cars. And Yeah they have the Phoenix (screaming chicken) on the hoods… So!

    Many Pontiac clubs now include GMC trucks in the group. A person with a GMC motorhome could show along side of the Pontiacs. It’s just a footnote, but would be cool none the less.

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.

*

Keep me in the conversation via email. Or subscribe without commenting.