Live Auctions

Ready To Restore: 1966 Clark Cortez

Vintage motorhomes have a following all of their own, and the Clark Cortez is one of the more prolific models to emerge from the 1960s. With a face only a mother could love, it was certainly distinctive, but there’s no denying the appeal of its compact packaging and convenience of its front-wheel-drive layout. The seller’s Cortez sounds as if it was living on a mountain in the American Southwest before trundling down to town and benefitting from some recent maintenance. It’s confirmed as wanting to come back to life but will need finishing before you’re touring cross-country. Fortunately for the next owner, the interior is in very nice shape, as that would be far more challenging to correct. Find the Cortez here on Barn Finds Classifieds for $4,500 in Phoenix.

Now, when it comes to old-school RVs, they are just loaded with style. There’s no denying that. The problem is that “style” can sometimes be obscured by years’ worth of grime, trash, hippies, and general neglect. They become cheap homes on wheels – and I mean, literal “homes” – that never get the love and care a vintage artifact as this deserves. Fortunately, this Cortez appears to have escaped the clutches of becoming a homeless encampment, because the inside is super clean and original, especially for a motorhome that sounds like it hasn’t seen regular use in quite some time. The counters, cabinets, and appliances are straight out of the 1960s, and it all looks to be largely intact.

Now, the Cortez is far from being a reliable runner, but the seller has done some of the initial diagnosis work to make sure it will come back to life once again. This includes removing the plugs, fogging the cylinders, and installing a new battery. He claims the Cortez is now turning fine, but it sounds like it’s not quite running as of yet. Other recent work includes a new cap and rotor, but the rest is up to you. The seller recommends bleeding the brakes but has confirmed the hydraulic clutch is working. Other big work done includes dropping the gas tank to be cleaned out, and it will be re-installed this week.

Overall, the seller is picking a logical point to let this project go. Otherwise, you go down the rabbit hole of totally restoring it, which, as he notes, will include paint, tires, and “….various other times restored.” Right now, he’s done some of the initial troubleshooting to ensure you’re buying a runner, with the biggest amount of heavy lifting being getting it out of wherever it was hiding so it has a chance at living again. Based on the interior photos, I would deem this rare Cortez as worthy of restoration; what do you think? Should it be completely restored or simply made into a reliable driver while leaving the cosmetics intact?

Comments

  1. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Damn hippies!

    Like 8
    • 370zpp 370zpp Member

      I heard them damn hippies were even injektin batt-tree acid!

      Like 6
    • mike

      Damn dirty hippies!

      Like 1
  2. Steve Clinton

    These old motor homes give me the creeps. “If this home’s a-rockin’, don’t bother knockin’.”

    Like 2
  3. Michael Berkemeier

    Completely restored, it would be neat. Surely, a labor of love though. I always think about how cool it would be to restore one…then, fortunately, I forget about it.

    Like 5
  4. Todd Fitch Staff

    Nice one, Jeff, and a realistic price. I could be a buyer on one of these some day. I’ve never thought of these as prolific with <3500 units made over 15 years. The all steel body has no flex, supposedly making for a quiet ride and good cornering, relatively speaking. Maybe search and replace Cortex with Cortez when you get a minute. :) I'd take one that was non-op and original interior over a running updated one any day. Only the stick-on flooring looks like it came from Home Depot. Would love to get an update from the new owner here some day. Thanks!

    Like 7
  5. Mike

    Could someone fix all the sideways pictures? BF classifieds is going to turn into FB marketplace.

    Like 4
  6. rustylink

    wow a slant 6 225 pulling this cinder block down the road. I love slant 6’s and owned a few but it’s not what I would’ve picked for a motorhome drive train!

    Like 10
  7. ken

    Neat rig. These used a Clark forklift derived 4 speed transaxle to drive the front wheels. The slant 6 was later replaced, I believe, by a Ford V8, then the later owners of the line adapted the 455 Toronado drivetrain as used by GM and Revcon.

    Like 8
  8. charlie Member

    With the slant 6 a slow pace up hill, but reliable. Son rented an old but good condition Vanagon camper for a weekend, crept up the hills but got there, “never again”, he said, but fixed up, this is a good candidate for this market. He learned to drive on our 2.2 Dodge Caravan, 5 speed, Vanagon was even slower.

    Like 1
  9. Vern

    I actually think the face of it looks great! Those headlight bezels look like re-purposed Peterbilt stock. I’d do a 12 valve diesel engine swap and bring it to a body shop trade school and say, Have at it.

    Like 1
  10. steve

    A version of this was used for astronaut transport at the Kennedy Space Center. Paint it up with some NASA logos?

    Like 2
    • Steve

      I believe NASA used Airstream MH’s for transporting astronauts to the launch pads

      • George

        They used a Cortez first

  11. Joe Haska

    I am a retired fire fighter 31 years, I started my service in the early 1970’s. That started an era change in the fire service. A big buzz topic was Haz Mat, and many big cities were forming Hax Mat response teams. To be cutting edge you needed trained fireman (a PC term then) and a command vehicle to respond in. Our Department thinking the were cutting edge found a relative new stripped down Clark Cortez. The put lights and a siren on it and didn’t even try to disguise it as an emergency response vehicle. It was embarrassing it couldn’t pass traffic,Hell it couldn’t keep up. It had no room for special equipment, but it didn’t matter we didn’t have any at the time. Maybe a couple of reference books and emergency contacts. When I retired my station was the designated Haz Mat response for the entire city 24/7 and fully staffed. The rig barley fits in the bay and would take a day to unload all the equipment. When we told new kids about our first rig, they had no idea what we were talking about. They had no idea what a Clark Cortez was. Did I mention we HATED it. we were barrenness to be seen it. Going down the street we looked like a bunch of campers dressed like fireman (that word again) For the record this was a big city, million plus. It shall go un-named to protect the STUPID.

    Like 2
  12. rcplumley

    i want it.. but i like old motorhomes .. i have a 46 white bus i built several years ago but i need something smaller now.. and this looks great..:)

    • João Antonio P. de Carvalho

      rcplumley, VOCÊ NÃO TEM UMA FOTO DE SEU ÔNIBUS DE 1946, PARA PODERMOS APRECIAR, INCLUSIVE COM INFORMAÇÕES. EU, FICARIA MUITO AGRADECIDO, POIS SOU UM ETERNO SAUDOSISTA. UM GRANDE ABRAÇO.

      RCPLUMLEY, YOU DON’T HAVE A PICTURE OF YOUR 1946 BUS, SO WE CAN APPRECIATE IT, EVEN WITH INFORMATION. I would be VERY GRATEFUL, FOR I AM AN ETERNAL NOSTALOSIST. A BIG HUG.

      Like 1
  13. Rick

    Charles Kuralt and a CBS News crew had two Cortez motorhomes for awhile, with some memorable experiences he wrote about in his On The Road books.

    Like 1
  14. Claudio

    There is one on marketplace in toronto , canada with an asking price of $12k canadian dollars but the interior has been messed with

    These things are certainly better than the braves and indians of the same period as those things did not accelerate,stop , turn but they did go from on gas station to another , ask me how i know !

    Like 1
    • Daniella Q

      I bought it ! (negotiated price) These are incredibly hard to come by in Canada. She’s an absolute beauty and has been well taken care of. As much as id love to fully restore her to her prime…the inside has been refinished. So i plan on converting her into a Record Shop on wheels for my small business.

      Like 3
      • Todd Fitch Staff

        Congratulations, Daniella Q! We’d love to see some pictures as your vision takes shape. Best wishes!

    • Claudio

      As a canadian rv’er , i will be looking out for a cortez and even if i am not looking , i will easily notice this oddball and will want to get a closer look

  15. scottymac

    Drove a 20 ton Clark forklift when I worked in a steel mill. That had a 3 cylinder Detroit diesel, with a reverse pattern transmission.

  16. butchb

    Cool piece. Are those 16.5″ split ring rims? Those gotta go and that’s a significant chunk of change. Put a little turbocharger on that slant 6 and give it few pounds of boost to help it up the hill and down the road. I’d be interested in that 46 White. Let the good times roll!

  17. chrlsful@aol.com

    sweet.
    I get no slanty pic of the 4 on my puter screen. Will refrain from my usual (larger) M.H. comments (some 1 has) of a 12v’n alison. Bet it could take that fork lift diesel4 or any of the SBF/C w/their accompanying auto w/OD (4 speed). Good size, no 2 by wood studs I’d guess. Not as tight as the modern f.glass shells but has potential. Cost (& my own labor)? don’t mean much if it’s what you want and taken slow~

    Like 1
  18. chrlsful@aol.com

    sweet.
    I get no slanty pic of the 4 on my puter screen. Will refrain from my usual (larger) M.H. comments (some 1 has) of a 12v’n alison. Bet it could take that fork lift diesel4 or any of the SBF/C w/their accompanying auto w/OD (4 speed). Good size, no 2 by wood studs I’d guess. Not as tight as the modern f.glass shells but has potential. Cost (& my own labor)? don’t mean much if it’s what you want and taken slow~

  19. chrlsful@aol.com

    sweet.
    I get no slanty pic of the 4 on my puter screen. Will refrain from my usual (larger) M.H. comments (some 1 has) of a 12v’n alison. Bet it could take that fork lift diesel4 or any of the SBF/C w/their accompanying auto w/OD (4 speed). Good size, no 2 by wood studs I’d guess. Not as tight as the modern f.glass shells but has potential. Cost (& my own labor)? don’t mean much if it’s what you want and taken slow~

  20. chrlsful@aol.com

    sweet.
    I get no slanty pic of the 4 on my puter screen. Will refrain from my usual (larger) M.H. comments (some 1 has) of a 12v’n alison. Bet it could take that fork lift diesel4 or any of the SBF/C w/their accompanying auto w/OD (4 speed). Good size, no 2 by wood studs I’d guess. Not as tight as the modern f.glass shells but has potential. Cost (& my own labor)? don’t mean much if it’s what you want and taken slow~

  21. chrlsful@aol.com

    sweet.
    I get no slanty pic of the 4 on my puter screen. Will refrain from my usual (larger) M.H. comments (some 1 has) of a 12v’n alison. Bet it could take that fork lift diesel4 or any of the SBF/C w/their accompanying auto w/OD (4 speed). Good size, no 2 by wood studs I’d guess. Not as tight as the modern f.glass shells but has potential. Cost (& my own labor)? don’t mean much if it’s what you want and taken slow~

    • jwaltb

      We get the point. Please stop.

      Like 9
  22. Will Owen Member

    Oh me oh my … finally a real live (mostly) land yacht that is smaller than the average coal barge, and nicely appointed at that. No, I will not be allowed to have it, ask for it or bid on it, but if I COULD I think I would. As a long-confirmed proponent of the Just Big Enough school, this is the first offering in an awfully long time that meets my criteria for a truly useful camper. The VW variants are close enough to tempt me, but either too expensive or too underpowered for the long up-the-mountain slogs a lot of my destinations call for.

    I do hope this goes to a good home – i.e. one whose owner will correct any problems, spiff it up nicely, and then take it camping a lot. Blessings on such a fate for this sweet old thing.

    Like 2
  23. Joe

    Don’t drive this int the rain Where are the windshield wipers?9

    Like 1
  24. Karl

    Wow what a giant pile of work! I also have to say a slant 6 is darned close to the last engine I expected to be in this rig. I could see this all fixed up including a more appropriate pack and spending 35 to 45k getting it all done right and finding out it worth 10k completely restored! Oh joy!

    • Gary

      First of all anyone who spends $35-$45,000 to have something restored just to turn around and sell it. Would be an idiot in this case. That large of expense always means there were huge labor charges. When some classic is done nicely, there is always a buyer. I have seen several that sold for around 20,000Dollars. So realistically I wouldn’t spend more than that on one, price plus parts. Just about every repair on this can be done in your backyard. The most expensive thing is always a paint job. But I’ll bet you could get a pretty nice paint job for $10,000 including bodywork. Unless you have driven one, you won’t understand the value of a Cortez. End of story

  25. George

    They used a Cortez first

  26. George

    All steel construction. no fiberglass, no wood.

  27. Ben Lucarelli

    I brought one of these back to life this summer. A ‘64 from Oregon. Interior had some leak damage and mechanicals needed freshening. I sealed the roof, new water pump, batteries, ammeter delete, brakes, bushings, rear springs and new lap tanks. The front is torsion bar so that just needed to be tightened up to get some height. I replaced outer tie rod ends but after driving have decide to do the other six. To do list is new exhaust, new tach, and who knows, I heard headers are a nice addition.

    Like 3
    • butchb

      Great to hear another vintage RV has gotten a second life. Many MH’s that have been sitting for long periods of time in dry climates can be put back on the road for $2500 or less and elbow grease. Tires being the major expense. Enjoy your time machine!

      Like 1
  28. Claudio

    Being a real passionate rv’er and hands on car guy , i would volunteer my time to get this going but i simply cannot tackle such a job

    Bad back pain means less drive and this takes a lot of it !

  29. Claudio

    The looks of this thing will instantly draw attention for your shop

  30. Gary Riesing

    If anyone following this ad wants to make an offer, please do so immediately. I’m ready to except one, I just need to hear from you.

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