Only Way to Travel: 1977 GMC Motorhome

In the late 70s, the annual holiday Hess truck was a replica of this fantastic GMC motorhome. It was easily my favorite of the trucks my brother and I collected, not only for the blinking lights and fully-equipped interior, but simply because it was a gorgeous motorhome. This 1977 GMC here on eBay is a fine example of the breed, with a restored interior and awesome period styling that makes me wonder why you’d want anything else if you’re shopping for an R/V. 

These six-wheel motorhomes always struck me as being ideal because of their proportions. Enough size and length to make it feel like a home on wheels, but not so ungainly that you’re terrified to drive it as an R/V novice. The body on this GMC looks to be in fantastic condition, and with numerous R/V parks around some of my favorite areas in the Sunshine State, you can bet I’d be embarking on an immediate road trip southwards if this were in my collection. The seller claims the tires are almost new and the 403 V8 just received a fresh tune up.

The real story here, in my opinion, is the interior. So many of these things are downright deplorable inside. The seller has clearly taken the time to make this GMC motorhome as modern as possible inside without distorting its vintage charm. The leather couches next to numerous panels covered in fake-wood, along with a modern flat-panel TV, all works well together, indicating some level of care was taken to bring two eras of convenience together under one (mobile) roof. Lots of other updates have been addressed too, and I’m sure the seller has more invested than his $17,500 Buy-It-Now.

Tile on the counter and a backsplash! Along with the cosmetic updates, the seller has also installed a new fridge and confirms the propane system is working well. A full-size bed is on board, along with a 16-foot awning. This GMC would be perfect for snowbirds and race fans alike, and with the annual 12 Hours of Sebring happening in just over two weeks in Florida, you know where I’d be headed right after getting the title signed over. Have any of you ever driven one of these vintage GMC R/Vs? How would you use one?

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Comments

  1. Bingo

    The seller is located in Canada but the vehicle is in Florida. I’m no geography major but something is off.

    Like 3
    • Ohio Rick

      Nothing abnormal here. Motorhome is based in Florida and the owner drives his 30 mpg Focus down each fall and enjoys the winter.

      Like 3
    • FBM

      Probably a snowbird.

      Like 2
    • Doug

      Quite a few Canadians spend some or all of the winter months in Florida to avoid our somewhat cool weather up North — these folks are referred to as “Snow Birds”

      Like 2
    • Erik Fredeen

      Lotsa snowbirds keep their rv year round in the south. Why drive it thousands of miles back and forth @ 10 mpg? when you can store it for maybe peanuts? Nothing “off” here….

      Like 2
  2. Bill

    Beautiful Motor Home. The only problem is a lack of storage space.

  3. Don

    An RV that big and a 403 olds only 185 HP.

    • Greg72

      These GMC motorhomes used the drive train layouts of the Olds Toronado. The Olds 403 CI engine in ’77, from the factory, produced 320 ft lbs of torque @ 2200 rpm – that will get the thing moving. They aren’t speed demons but they can handle modern traffic.

      Like 1
  4. Joe Nose

    Nice land yacht.

    • Marshall

      Actually, I think it’s more like a “land ship”.

  5. Fred W.

    Old motorhomes have very little value or collectibility. This, however, is the exception. Quite a following and should hold it’s value well if you keep it up. Compare the price to that of a similar size new one, which will depreciate rapidly starting the moment you drive it off the lot.

    • Michael Rogers

      just like luxo cars! so buy them used like this!
      i have a winnie

    • boxdin

      Chinook owners will take exception to little value or collectivity. I’m an RV nut and flip them from time to time. I have doubled my money w RVs like this Chinook/Ford. Some RVs are very profitable. Mine is 25 yrs old and going up in value.

      Like 2
      • Dave Wright

        We love our one owner 1976 Chinook……..these GMC’s are very cool too. This one looks great as is. The other great motor homes of the time were the FMC’s. rear engine rear wheel drive.

  6. Francisco

    Could this be the motorhome which was built on the Oldsmobile Toronado frame with front wheel drive?

    • Bill

      It is.

    • Littlejohn

      Not on the Olds frame – the frame is specific to the coach. But the drivetrain is Toronado 455 CID, the difference being longer drive axles andsomewhat heavier front suspension components.

  7. Dan

    The EM-50 Urban Assault Vehicle…

    Like 3
    • sparecr

      Every time I see one of these that is exactly what I think, and why I want one.

      Like 1
    • Jim

      THANK YOU. I was scrolling down wondering if I’d have to post the EM-50. Loved that thing.

      Like 1
    • Car Nut Tacoma

      I just recently watched “Stripes”, starring Bill Murray. I’ve heard of the EM-50 Urban Assault Vehicle, but I’ve never seen what it looked like, or knew what it was based on. Impressive looking vehicle.

      Like 1
  8. CCFisher

    The color scheme is very subdued for a mid-70s GMC motorhome. Most of the ones I’ve seen were brightly colored, inside and out. The interior is nice, but if I were going to get one of these, I’d get an original version, bright green shag carpeting and all!

  9. Birdman

    Hot Wheels made it too!

    Like 1
  10. Kevin

    GMC stands for “get more chicks”. Here’s mine and my favorite hood ornament at the Indy 500.

    Like 5
    • Walter

      Who is the hood ornament was just wondering lol

  11. edh

    “So many of these things are downright deplorable inside.”

    I don’t think you supported this claim or maybe you need a dictionary before sprinkling in the latest buzz word.

    Like 1
    • John

      Here’s the interior of one I looked at last month. Deplorable is one of any number of desultory adjectives that could be used.

      • Cleric

        I see what you mean. That RV is laying on its side!

      • Dan

        Was it lying on it’s side?

        Rotated it so to not strain others necks looking at it.

        Like 1
  12. CJay

    My friends family had one of these, almost new!
    These drive much like a large Chevy van.
    They will cruise at 65 and can be pushed higher.
    No overdrive so gas mileage about 8 to 10 mpg.
    Low step in height. Air ride suspension make for a comfortable RV.
    Their’s had the lime green interior that was still in great shape in 2001.
    The son traded it for a Bounder RV (that looked like a cross between a Tupperware container and a Rubbermade tote)
    The dealer he traded to wanted over twice what they gave him on trade. Which was way outta my price range.
    No walk around bedroom was a drawback.
    But a great maneuverable RV 40 years later. That I would LOVE to own.

  13. Woodie Man

    The tacky seventies tile on the counter has to go…..

  14. HeadMaster1

    These are great coaches, but usually you get the 455Olds engine, never heard of a 403 powered one? It uses the Toro/Eldo FWD system, and air-ride in the back. I remember a Saturday TV morning show in the 70’s, based in the future, where one of these was made to be a lunar-lander type of vehicle, anybody remember that?

    • Marko

      Was that “Space 1999” with Martin Landau and Barbra Bain ?

    • M. Meineken

      403 Olds was put in the later 1977 and all of 1978 GMCs when they quit building them.

  15. Tony Last

    Been there done that with a fuel injected 455 engine, pre 1976 had larger engine. Anything less is under powdered. Being uni-body towing capacity limited and internal storage very limited not suited for full time……..driving was great, fuel economy not bad.

  16. Doug Towsley

    I would give a thumbs up to Fred and Kevin (GMC=Get More Chicks? I love that)
    If I could. For a 1977 this thing is in exceptional condition. I would buy this in a heartbeat if i were in the market over some new one (Which all the new ones are way over priced in my opinion) I wonder if someone could fit an overdrive to the trans or swap out the trans for an overdrive unit? But nice RV and the styling on this doesnt look out of date at all to me.

  17. Car Guy

    Still one of the best looking motorhomes out there. Anyone done a Duramax conversion on one of these? That would be a great swap.

    Like 1
    • Fiete T.

      The Detroit diesel swap has been done, Duramax? Haven’t heard of it yet, but not saying I know 100%

  18. Ralph Robichaud

    There is practically a cult following for these GM motorcoaches. Many abandoned ones are being bought up and rebuilt. I believe that it is the exterior styling that is the attraction.
    Like most everything there are pros & cons. Nicely refurbished like this one is,
    you would not loose much of anything financially. You could use it in moderation for several years, sell and get your money back,,but only because of their perceived desirability.
    For me, still too cramped quarters.

  19. The One

    Shagadellic baby yeah!

  20. Jeffro

    I believe that we can agree that Kevin has posted the best picture on this thread. Good job Kevin!

  21. Loco Mikado

    40 years ahead of it’s time. Now lot of MH’s are FWD. Love it.

  22. Paul

    There has been one in our family since 1981, a 1975 model with the 455. It has seen it’s share of highway, over 300,000 miles, many towing a 24 ft race trailer. On the 3rd rebuild after a block cracked. To help with towing, a now long retired machine shop friend helped me revise the ratio of the chain drive to the transmission, went from a 3.07 to a 3.77. Solved the hill issue on the highway, will hold 65 MPH to the top and still give 12 mpg.
    One of the biggest problems most owners have is keeping the thing light, almost every change adds pounds when the oem load capacity was only 3500 lbs. Most you see on the road now are overloaded.
    We also upgraded to 6 wheel disc brakes to assist stopping with the trailer.
    There is no other coach that rides as nice, between the air bagged rear and the large torsion bars up front, it floats down the road like a Cadillac.
    Happy to answer any questions….

    Like 1
  23. Wayne

    My father had one of the early ones with. Are you ready for this? The graphite impregnated tin rear suspension swing arm bearings. The newer ones had real bearing material. But will not fit the older units. We made real bearings for it from stock bought from the Lear garage sale here in Reno. Now that the control arms were no longer flopping around (steering each wheel in a different direction.) Then we had to address the fact that the rear frame was flexing (rotating the rear wheels 0 to negative 3 degrees camber. And keeping the rear air ride working. I was so happy when Dad sold that thing. I was so unhappy when my father-in-law bought it from him! Lack of storage is the largest “useable” drawback to these. The first 2 years were CRAP! The later ones were pretty decent units. A later one drives very nice and will corner well enough to roll passengers around inside. To the delight of the driver!

    • Frenchy

      I’ve seen several GMC motor homes upgraded with the 500 cu. in. Cadillac which real world seems to get a mile per gallon better economy

  24. Kevin

    GMC Also stands for Get More Cash! Most of us have gone through every system to make them dependable. The Facebook group Classic GMC Motorhomes has 2800 members who can tell you in an instant 10 different ways to fix or retrofit anything. There is a diesel conversion in the works by Manny’s Transmissions and Jim Bounds did a Duramax conversion at Cooperative Motors in Orlando FL. Not cheap!! It’s a 40 year old hot rod with a bathroom. It’s fun and always draws a crowd. Remember size matters! $2million Prevost on the right!

    Like 3
    • Car Nut Tacoma

      Next to these behemoths, this thing is tiny! I’d feel less intimidated driving the tiny GMC Motorhome than I would driving one of the two massive beasts it’s parked between.

    • Car Nut Tacoma

      Sweet looking GMC Motorhome! I’d buy one if I knew someone who also liked them. I love the idea of having a motorhome, but I would neither want, nor need, a behemoth 40′ long motorhome. The only mechanical upgrades I’d give it would be a 6.5 litre Turbo Diesel V8 engine.

  25. boxdin

    Roofs on GMC coaches tend to sag from the AC weight. I would have to stay away from these.

    • Car Nut Tacoma

      Either that, or if possible, one could reinforce it with something, to make it stronger to withstand the extra weight.

  26. Alan (Michigan)

    Always will have value, against the grain of how motorhomes do as they age. Last fall I was treated to a tour of one while at a tailgat.e party at Michigan State University. The lucky/proud owner told me the history, that it had been in the family for a very long time. Much had been done over the years to preserve and improve it. That was one beautiful coach!

  27. MRE2ME

    Florida is the 11th province.-Don’t you know?

  28. Fiete T.

    The idea for the GMC motorhome, if history is to be believed, is that Revcon approached them about using the 455 Tornado powertrain for their planned rig. GM told them, “Ah, hey, you go do the durability testing and let us in on it to see how it works out. If all is kosher, sure, we’ll supply you with drivetrains.”
    So once the testing was done and GM’s engineers went over the data, they approved the deal to supply Revcon. And then introduced the GMC motorhome shortly there after. If that version of the story is true, kinda slimy and yet completely ‘brilliant’ business move on GM’s behave.
    Love the Revcons, Airstream/Argosys, GMCs, and Travcos. All well built, all have their followers/admirers

  29. Fred Ruhland

    1978 403 CID was great performer with 12+MPG! Little slower than traffic on Blue Ridge big hill but never had cracked manifolds. I had to sell it to payoff 2nd mortgage. Now looking for a refurbished one. Fred 440-813-1030

    Like 2
  30. Car Nut Tacoma

    I’d buy a 1977 GMC Motorhome if I knew someone who lives between Tacoma and Poulsbo Washington. I don’t know what the height would be, from the pavement to the AC unit on the roof, but compared to most motorhomes today, these must be tiny.

    Like 1

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