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No Reserve Project R/V: 1978 GMC Royale

Many times, when vehicles show up at my favorite dealer lot of donation specials, they need a sizable amount of work. When you see an R/V with this seller, I wouldn’t blame you for assuming the rig would be a basketcase of epic proportions. But this 1978 GMC Royale is selling at no reserve and actually looks like a reasonably safe bet considering it runs and drives and the interior is quite nice. Find it here on eBay with just over a day left and bidding barely past $2K. 

The last GMC motorhome we wrote up got a lot of you talking; although this one isn’t nearly as nice on the outside, it’s also selling at near the bottom of the market for one of these. In general, the more compact proportions and styling that still works well today have made these GMCs popular with R/V enthusiasts of all backgrounds, from budding enthusiasts to cross-country traveling pilots. I credit GM’s Truck and Coach Division with making this a driver-friendly coach, as it was the first R/V designed and built in-house by a major U.S. automaker – no aftermarket meddling with chassis and drivetrain components.

Check out the interior: although this motorhome isn’t specified as a donation vehicle by the seller, most anything they take in is given away, so to see a Royale with an interior you wouldn’t moving into sitting on what amounts to a glorified impound lot is a shock. The wood paneling looks quite nice and I see no obvious evidence of water damage. Couch and easy chair fabrics although look unscathed, but I did note the window placement along the sides is different from the 1978 model we featured a few weeks ago. Personally, I like the other design better, as it allows more daylight into the common areas towards the middle of the R/V.

The captain’s chairs up front are also in tidy condition, and the expansive glass all looks damage-free. The driver controls strike me as amateur-friendly, and while any amount of motorhome driving requires some practice, these vintage GMCs look easier to master than most. The current bid is well under market value for a GMC coach in running/driving condition, and the seller says it only needs a tune-up – which should be straight-forward with the GMC-sourced mechanical bits underneath. Anyone looking for a roadtrip rig for summer?


  1. Beatnik Bedouin

    While I’ve always wanted one of these since they were first produced, lack of suitable indoor storage and too many damned project precludes me from bidding…

    C’est la vie.

    Like 3
  2. RichS

    EM-50 Replica!

    C’mon, it’s Czechoslovakia. We zip in, we pick ’em up, we zip right out again. We’re not going to Moscow. It’s Czechoslovakia. It’s like going into Wisconsin.

    I got my @$$ kicked in Wisconsin once!

    Like 41
    • JasonH

      Such a truck would be good for picking up girls in Minsk.

      Like 19
      • Dirk

        There are girls in Minsk?

        Like 12
    • Beatnik Bedouin

      Considering that Czechoslovakia hasn’t existed since 1993, we might have a problem, Gentleman.

      Hey, but if we stop in Prague, I could show you guys around (I used to live in the Czech Republic – near the Slovak border – back in 2004/05 and had a girlfriend in the country’s capitol city). :-D

      Like 11
      • Henry Drake

        You may have missed the point.

        Like 27
      • Phil

        First weekend in Germany and we’re spending it in an aircraft hanger guarding a TRUCK..

        Like 14
      • Andy

        Henry, I caught the point right away! Some of the younger generation might not have caught the reference….

        Like 4
      • Johnny R

        “I figured we would take it out for a little spin.”
        “No John, no, no, no, no!”
        “I’ll drive.”

        Like 0
  3. DRV

    Someone’s getting a good deal!
    Is the company that rebuilds and sells them still around?

    Like 3
    • Jeffrey

      Yeah, there is a guy in Melbourne Florida who still does a lot of resto work on them.

      Like 3
  4. RichS

    Registration expired in 2005. DMV fees if you’re keeping it in CA could be well in excess of the current bid price if it was not placed into non-operational status. If you call the DMV with the VIN and plate number they can tell you what the registration fees would be.

    Like 7
    • Bmac Bmac Member

      Man, I’m glad I don’t live California.

      Like 22
      • RichS

        There are good things about living here (like not really understanding whatever that “rust” thing is that some of you guys go on and on about), but yeah – the California DMV is definitely not one of them. My worry for the buyer is that back registration fees is one of the reasons why it got donated.

        Like 4
      • Rube Goldberg Member

        California is a really cool place, busy, too busy for me, and I could never afford it on SS,(I can barely afford Colorado), but my kids like it. Lot of cool people. ( sure beats Wisconsin with a stick) And the DMV is universally bad, no matter where you go. On my recent move to Colorado, you wouldn’t believe the nightmare I went through to change my Wis. license to Co. Birth cert., parents death certs, HS diploma, I even had to register to vote in the county, and for a while, I didn’t think it would even go, we can thank 911 for that.

        Like 6
      • Dickie F

        It is not only California where arrear reg fees can be painfull.
        Last month I was confronted.with 20 years x annual fees, which were unpaid, while the 1970 Winniebago was deregistered!
        And that was in South Africa!
        Maybe it is a hot climate thing ?

        Like 2
    • Chebby Member

      I think someone might have told me you can buy a CA car with high DMV fees, register it in another state, then sell it back to a CA resident with a clean reg. from that other state. Like if you had a friend in Arizona, maybe. But I didn’t say that.

      Like 4
  5. Vin_in_NJ

    I noticed the last one featured had a Cadillac style steering wheel, while this one sports what looks like a steering wheel from an Oldsmobile.
    GM certainly raided the excess parts bin when putting these together


    Like 1
  6. Patrick D.

    Somewhere, Barbie is flashing her big, plasticy grin.

    Like 6
    • Jeffro

      Are we sure it’s just her grin she’s flashing?

      Like 4
  7. Vegaman_Dan

    These make great conversions for charities and field service vehicles like dog washing, vet clinics, blood mobiles, emergency food services, etc. Smooth body lines makes it easy to be painted and graphics applied, or a vinyl wrap.
    BUT the lack of basement storage does hinder some of the appeal.

    Like 2
  8. jdjonesdr

    I want this so bad I can taste it. Perfect for a single guy.

    Like 6
  9. Fred W.

    While there are ALWAYS undlerlying problems in older motorhomes, this one certainly looks like an easy project at a steal of a price so far.

    Like 4
  10. Davis

    Oh no. Looks like something my nephew would by for my brother.

    Like 0
  11. Rube Goldberg Member

    Nicest motorhomes ever made.

    Like 4
  12. Kevin

    Check out the fine print on the fees this dealer charges before bidding!

    Like 2
  13. Whippeteer

    The roof, despite being aluminum, looks rough. I’m surprised that there aren’t visible leaks, even if it is from Southern California.

    Like 0
  14. James

    Every time I see one of these my first thought is always…the movie Stripes.

    Like 3
  15. steve

    Worked on a few back then. Olds 455 engine as I recall Plenty of torque….MPG??..Uhhh…hold that thought…. Air suspension..right? I understand that one of the issues is that, even in dry climates, the big (of COURSE it’s BIG) rectangular fuel tank gets a layer of dirt on it and, when it gets wet, stays wet, and rots out the TOP of the tank. Also the brakes are good..but they were sourced from the Toronado/Eldorado and are not REALLY truck brakes. With the tandem rear wheels and not duals, dropping off the edge of the pavement could be a pot-rattling wheel waving adventure. With all that, these have always been the ONLY motor home I’d consider owning. They DO get leaks around the windows and such but compared to a “conventional” stick and tin camper? ..well..there isn’t a comparison….

    Like 4
    • BOP_GUY BOP Guy Member

      I was wondering what engine this one has. The seller never mentioned the engine or tranny type, but I would assume it’s the Olds 455 torque monster. I had a 71 Pontiac Grandville convertible here in California with that engine (the Pontiac version, of course), and they have plenty of torque to move that motor home. I’m so tempted to bid on this, always wanted one 🤔

      Like 3
      • Cary Dice

        If it is a ’78, it most likely came with an Olds 403.

        Like 0
    • Whippeteer

      403 1/77 to end of production.

      Like 0
  16. Gallagher Engineering

    Never fall for that: (it just needs a tune up), line. If it just needed a tune up they would have done it already.
    This one needs serious engine work. Like a burnt exhaust valve, or a broken piston ring,
    or the rings could be just plain worn out.

    Like 3
  17. Jack Quantrill

    GM, lost money on every one produced. This was the king of motorhomes back in the day!

    Like 3
  18. ButchB

    Last registration 05? Bring at least 2 spares for the front and have about a $1200 budget for tires. Maybe you can get away with running a 13+ year old tire in the mid-west….for a while. But that rubber wouldn’t last the trip home in the West. Not to mention its going to beat up the side when one blows, or worse.

    Like 3
  19. Maestro1

    I agree with ButchB but if I had the room I’d buy it anyway. Acquisition price is right and it has obvious potential. If some money is spent on it, you are the king of the road, exception being the monster MAN/Prevost biggies out there. It’s a
    good project. Take your time.

    Like 3
    • ButchB

      I know Maestro… I still like it too! LOL. If I had the budget….

      Like 0
  20. Wayne

    I don’t know what company you are talking about that refurbishes these. But there is one down the street from me (I live in Northern Nevada) that does that.
    When it come s to DMVs, Colorado is the worst. I use to sell commercial trucks all over the country. And many were leased. So they had to be “plated” when delivering the vehicle to the customer. I had a license service take care of these issues for me until I picked up a good customer in Colorado. THEY WOULD NOT TOUCH COLORADO FOR ALL THE TEA IN CHINA!
    Colorado takes everything that California does, and then takes it to a whole new art-form. It is unbelievable the BS that Colorado puts you through. My deliveries were in Denver, Boulder and Colorado Springs. (Three different counties.) As it works out, each DMV has it’s own set of rules. So in my case I had 3 different drivers that each had a “girl friend” there at the DMV. So when having to get a truck plated/registered. They would present their girl friend with the paperwork and a box of donuts first thing in the morning.
    California is second worst on the list. (It makes it worse than it really is by their attitude.)

    Like 3
  21. roger a

    I noticed this one has nice Eldorado biarritz seats

    Like 2
  22. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

    Colorado has always had some of the most ridiculous motor vehicle regulations. I was visiting family in the Denver area when the vehicle I was driving overheated in slow traffic on the interstate. I tried to get a tow truck to take my car off the roadway, only to be told the law forbid a tow truck driver to remove a car until a law enforcement officer came and ticketed the disabled vehicle’s driver, for breaking down in either the traffic lane or the shoulder!

    It took 45 minutes for the officer to arrive, all that time, traffic had to go around my car. $196 ticket [$98 ticket that doubled because it was rush hour drive time]. After the “official state revenue enhancement employee” left in his police cruiser, I found the engine had cooled down to the point the car would start again. Never paid that ticket because I’m not going back to Colorado, EVER!

    Like 3
    • Hugh

      On the other hand the DMV offices in NY or at least in Manhattan are great.

      I walked in with some really complicated paperwork for a 1970 Porsche and it was “you know this would be really easy if you had a bill of sale, make one up and cut in front of the line and you’re done”

      And that’s why I keep a N.Y. drivers license and address and visit California

      Like 1
  23. john

    I too have these GMC’s as the only cool looking one I have ever wanted… I also like the Pacer !! And while this can roll on the highways, it could just be parked and “be” the home, never to move again…. ahhh, just sold for $4152. oo.

    Like 2

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