Preserved Palm Beach: 1977 GMC Motorhome

GMC’s classic front-driver motorhome was somewhat of a hit when it was introduced, leading to a long production cycle and a good number still on the road today. They command a following for any number of reasons, including their manageable wheelbase and reliable Toronado-derived powertrain. This is a lovely Palm Beach model in 26′ length, and you can find it here on eBay for $16,950 or best offer.

To me, with the rise in interest of van lifestyles and camping in general, these GMCs have been too cheap for too long. They’re far more attractive to novice R/V owners thanks to the tidier proportions and parts sourcing should be very straightforward considering the engine is shared with the Toronado and Eldorado and the transmission is your standard-issue Turbo-Hydramatic 425 automatic. This example is quite nice, with a fair amount of cosmetic and mechanical refurbishment already performed.

The interior is outstanding, and while I can only confirm the Palm Beach models got that sweet lime green paint job and stickers, I’ll bet the green plaid seating surfaces are a part of the package as well. Wood cabinetry appears to be in excellent condition, even if it is likely fake; the seller says it has been restored and is original GM-issue. There’s even the original vacuum cleaner still attached with all the fittings, and A/C still blows cold. New batteries, tires, brakes and brake master are all recent installations.

The seating surfaces and swiveling captain’s chairs are all in excellent order, and the seller notes that unlike many older R/V’s, there’s no major funk awaiting you when the door is popped open. The seller says it’s “fresh and bright” inside, which is a testament to the previous owners and the seller’s ability to prep a vehicle for sale. Minor cosmetic blemishes are noted and it sounds like the rear air suspension has been replaced with solid struts; I’d source and rebuild the original set-up, if possible. The price seems quite reasonable for one in preserved condition like this.

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Comments

  1. angliagtgt

    Sounds like a good deal,if it’s as good as described.
    My Uncle bought one of these new (his Daughter was Arnold Weibe’s
    personal secretary – he owned a big dealership in Visalia,CA).After a
    year of touring the US in it,he said that he’d had enough,& sold it.
    I’ll always remember how cool it was.

    7
  2. Matt steele

    $3000 bout it

  3. Sarah

    The previous commenter clearly sure doesn’t know much about these GMC motorhomes. There are companies that restore them and sell them for over $100k. My own 23 footer had $35k spent on its restoration, excluding the vehicle by a previous owner, and there is a large club network of owners. This one is in pretty nice original shape, obviously by someone who looked after it. Their drivetrains are solid, and they were really built well by GMC, hence why so many of them survive. And they drive like large vans and get decent fuel economy due to being very aerodynamic.

    38
  4. P Wentzell

    LOVE those green plaid seats!

    8
  5. AirBoss

    How many gallons to the mile?

    7
    • George

      About 10 at 55…

      4
    • Wrong Way

      My first and only thought! Especially after I got gas today!

  6. phil

    “Our first weekend in Italy and we’re spending it guarding a truck”

    50
    • MSG Bob

      Bless you for the reference to the EM50 Tactical Urban Assault Vehicle. “Stripes was one of my favorite “funny soldier” movies, ever.

      “You can’t leave! All the plants will die!”

      7
    • RichS

      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.

      2
  7. Billy 007

    Man, I was watching “Tiny House Hunters” ON HGTV the other day, what a crock. 40, 50, 60K for a beefed up storage shed on wheels. At 1/2 or even 1/4 the cost, this is for sure the way to go. Plus, self contained, park it almost anywhere, has its own propulsion system. Has auxiliary power even.

    19
  8. Dean

    I like it, but it’s too large for just the wife and I

    3
    • Curt

      But they are not big . Only 9 feet high, and drive like a car. I took one from Minnesota out to Seattle, then down the coast, through Nevada, and back up to Minnesota. It was a great trip. Comfortable. And averaged 10 mpg. Absolutely loved it. If I had one now , I would beef up the power a bit. But it did fine . It was the Eleganza model. With the 455 olds.

      1
  9. Alex C

    16K is very reasonable for a classic like this, and this one is in great shape. I’d love to have it.

    Remember the movie ‘Stripes’ (1981) with Bill Murray? This is the ‘Urban Assault Vehicle’ from the move…its even the same color I think!

    4
  10. Dolphin Dolphin Member

    My neighbor has one of these, and I have helped him to diagnose problems with it. He uses it only on short trips because the gas mileage isn’t terrific, let’s say. He says it has one of the Buick or Caddy FWD drivetrains, not sure the exact displacement, but 400CI or more. They used different configurations in these, so it could be 455. And of course an auto transmission. It delivers mileage in the single digits. There are also lots of systems because it’s really a small mobile house.

    Me? I like to travel light. With one of these GMC motorhomes you are taking it all with you.

    2
    • Fred W

      Nearly ALL motorhomes of any size, along with travel trailer/truck combos, deliver mileage in the single digits. You wanna play, you gotta pay.

      15
    • George

      Olds 455 until that engine was replaced in 1977 with the 403. The TH425 transmission was the same all the way through.

      7
  11. CanuckCarGuy

    I remember having one of these amongst my Hot Wheels collection as a youngster… good times. The colour and interior finishes on this one are awesome…who cares about fuel economy when you’re this cool!

    10
    • mike D

      I think one of the “Hess Trucks” was one in 1980, my dad bought one early for a December born baby… which turned out to be a girl LOL I think it is still sitting around somewhere, albeit kindda rough around the edges

      1
  12. wuzjeepnowsaab

    These are insanely cool vehicles. These were Halo Vehicles for GM…a boatload went into r&d. FWD from a Toronado and 455c.i with TH400 transmission, tandem rears running on bogeys, low profile meant an easy step up and the fwd meant a long usable flat floor.

    There is a robust community of Glacier lovers with a ton of info and parts sourcing. Anyone who thinks these are $3000 vehicles clearly haven’t done their research

    17
  13. Miguel

    Reminds me of the Bill Murray movie “Stripes”.

  14. nycbjr Member

    Did anyone notice the last image is from the movie stripes? (I think) click on the last image in the post and then next image.. lol

    7
    • Rspcharger

      First thing I thought was Stripes…..here’s Bill & Harold guarding it.

      7
  15. wuzjeepnowsaab

    I know of at least one that was converted to a car hauler. They cut the back to make it into a flip up door and they’ve got ramps to drive a car up into it…ng mini size, so a lot of cars will fit. 8 to 10 inches off the ground is all with the bogeys…not too much trouble getting a car inside it.

    I freaking love these. If I wasn’t up to my ears in projects I’d be down on one for sure

    6
  16. Dave

    Isn’t that the one in “Stripes”?

    • MSG Bob

      I could swear that comment has been made before…

  17. Tom Justice

    If you happen to have been watching Ozzie and Jack’s World Detour last season Ozzy bought on of these because Black Sabbath toured in one back in the day. It was of questionable quality and did not last long but I bet he would be interested in this one. Some one give him a call.

    2
    • George

      If I recall, the engine blew. The biggest problem with used RVs with gas motors is low use. Needing rebuilding or replacement at around 40K is not uncommon.

      2
      • Dr. Dan

        It’s 1970’s engine technology, This was long before precision CNC machining and robotic assembly, everything was hand assembled back then so you were lucky to get 65,000 miles on a big V8 before it started having problems.

        Nowadays thanks to CNC machining and automated assembly lines with minimal human interaction we’re seeing automotive engines regularly last over 200,000 miles

  18. Richard Truesdell

    Those of you interested in learning more about these unique GMC motorhomes, might enjoy reading this I wrote seven years ago. It might clear up some of the misconceptions some have about these vehicles.

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

    7
  19. John

    It’s the EM-50 Urban Assault Vehicle from Stripes!

  20. Dale Davis Member

    Hi Guys,
    Seller is my business partner and has had a couple of these. He relates that this one is strong and shifts excellent, an indication that the powertrain was rebuilt prior to his purchase. He has kept up the maintenance and rebuilt or replaced a lot. And I agree, the support network of GMC owners and vendors is pretty amazing.

    4
  21. Clay Byant

    On the Ebay site could have done without the music with one guy singing offkey………

  22. Catie H

    We had one of these. It still had the green shag carpet. That rear bed is really uncomfortable. The two seats fold together to make a bed and you feel that steel bar in the middle no matter what you do.
    They are pretty good to drive down the road. I even drove it. It had enough power to pull the trailer with our motorcycles.
    We sold it because we wanted something a bit larger.
    They were years ahead of the other units available at the time.

    2
  23. chad

    cummins & allison = better performance (MPGs & power).
    I like the “Vixen” more another low profile but would do the same w/it’s BMW engine.

  24. Dr. Dan

    It’s 1970’s engine technology, This was long before precision CNC machining and robotic assembly, everything was hand assembled back then so you were lucky to get 65,000 miles on a big V8 before it started having problems.

    Nowadays thanks to CNC machining and automated assembly lines with minimal human interaction we’re seeing automotive engines regularly last over 200,000 miles

  25. J Mcfee

    I have owned a GMC Eleganza 2 for 8 years and after crossing the country a few times and travelling the last 3 summers constantly I would’t have any other rv. Its reliable and has enough room for the 3 of us, the comments on mileage always makes me laugh, if we do a long day of driving we can use $100.00 in gas but the thing is, once we arrive at a spot we use no gas unless we run the generator. We save on hotels, restaurants and the big difference is – We sleep in the exact same bed we have at home with the same pillows etc, ultimate comfort and no worrie’s about who slept in the bed the last 365 days + before us. Camp where you want and eat you home made meals, can’t beat it

  26. Steve Zamfes

    How can I find out who bought this. Would be interested in buying it

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