23k Mile: 1976 GMC Royale Motorhome

This 26′ motorhome is none other than a 1976 GMC Royale that benefits from a recently rebuilt engine and transmission, along with the chassis having under 25,000 original miles. These classic front-wheel-drive creations are hot commodities these days, especially when in decent condition like this one appears to be. Despite the frequency with which they pop up for sale, it’s still rare to see one of these on the road, so hopefully, recent owners are off traversing the great wide-open spaces that make America the country that it is. The seller notes a few issues that will need fixing, and the GMC is listed here on eBay with bidding over $8,000 and the reserve unmet.

There’s no extra charge noted for the excellent mural along the sides, which seems to capture the sort of scene this motorhome was meant to pull up to: a beautiful sunset, towering trees, and not a cloud in sight. The GMC motorhomes are famous for being easier to maneuver in tight spaces, along with drivetrains that are easily serviced thanks to their parts bin origins. The listing notes the Oldsmobile 403 engine was a rebuilt unit installed by the current owner, who has only added 1,000 miles to the fresh engine. The automatic transmission was also rebuilt more recently, with the listing noting that the work occurred in 2020.

The interior appears to be in fine shape and is certainly a good indicator that the mileage is correct. The bathroom area looks quite clean, and for being original surfaces and coverings, it’s clearly been kept in good order. These RVs really seemed like the perfect size and mix of features, with room for three overnight guests, a full bathroom, dinette booth, sofa, fridge/freezer, and microwave, among other features. The microwave doesn’t work at the moment, and the big issue needing repair is the air conditioning for the main living space. The A/C in the front cab is still functional, and the seller has received an estimate of $500 to repair the housing unit.

What a great view – I seriously want to own one of these someday. The frequency with which these pop up for sale indicates to me that they’re potentially great flip vehicles, with seller lucking into them at storage yards where they’ve been left for dead or heirs who come into owning an RV they never wanted and selling it for peanuts. Alternatively, it could also be a case of first-time motorhome buyers who loved the idea of crisscrossing the country in a vintage motorhome, only to find out it’s a labor of love to keep one running, and it can leave you stranded in the middle of nowhere. Either way, this one looks like a fair buy at the current price, or perhaps a little higher given how in-demand they seem to be.


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  1. Bluetec320 Bluetec320 Member

    Here we go again! There is no way that both the engine and trans would need to be replaced on a 20000 mile vehicle. I am not buying the mileage claim! Since it only has a 5 digit odometer, we have to take the sellers word for it, but it is most likely123000. I hate to be such a naysayer, but almost all of the 70’s and 80’s 5 digit odometer vehicles that BF has featured lately, the seller has claimed “low original mileage”, sorry, but I’m just not buying it.

    I do agree with Jeff that the vehicle is in very good condition, but it is possible to keep high mileage vehicles looking like new. I know this because all of my vehicles look like new, even the 290K mile Volvo XC70.

    Like 26
    • Steve R

      The seller did provide “proof“ by the way of a picture of the speedometer. As everyone knows by now, that’s all that’s needed, actual evidence, consisting of actual documentation is overrated.

      Steve R

      Like 7
      • Bluetec320 Bluetec320 Member

        The sellers “proof” is a picture of a 5 digit odometer, which in my opinion, on an older vehicle, is nothing more than a guess because you have no idea if there is a “1” or a “2” in front of those numbers. To be fair to the seller, unless they are the original owner, they may not know either, and in that case it should be listed as TMU. I disagree with your statement “actual documentation is overrated”, when someone is about to plunk down some of these outlandish asking prices, they should know what the TRUE mileage is. A perfect example of this is the GMC “Orange Overlander” that was listed on BF 2 weeks ago. The seller originally stated that the motorhome had 32K original miles, but a BF reader pointed out that the service sticker in the engine bay stated that a service had been completed at 118K miles. On the same day, the seller then changed the auction listing to reflect the actual mileage of 132000 miles. I don’t know about you Steve, but if I purchase a vehicle believing to have 32K original miles on it and get home to find out that it is really 132K, I am not going to very happy at all.

        Like 6
      • Steve R

        I agree with your initial post, I was being facetious. My main complaint with this site is they tend simply accept whatever the seller puts in the ad with regards to mileage. A simple question mark at the end of the sentence or comment as to a lack of verifying information other than a picture of the speedometer would be a good idea. By not doing so, this site tacitly endorses unsubstantiated claims which are often designed solely to increase the amount potential buyers are willing to pay.

        Steve R

        Like 9
      • Fred Veenschoten

        I owned one of these for 10 years and at rally’s we would look at the condition of the brake pedal to try an see how worn it was. That turned out to be a good indicator of actual millage. I know of 2 of these that have over 400K miles on them.

        Like 5
    • Steve Clinton

      Looks like Bluetec is not gonna be buying it.

      Like 4
    • David D. Taylor

      Mileage could be correct – IF – the vehicle was driven ONLY for summer vacations but mostly just parked. That would explain why engine and tranny had to be rebuilt. Such sedentary would allow the engine oil and tranny fluid to drain to bottom. That would leave room for condensation to form and begin the nasty condition of internal corrosion.

      Like 2
      • On and On On and On Member

        David D. Taylor I believe you to be correct, especially if stored in a colder climate where temperatures fluctuate, like the midwest. That’s what causes condensation. I keep cars and motorcycles and boats and lawn mowers in Wisconsin. I never leave them for months without moving parts around. Good for seals also…………..Fogging works too!

        Like 1
  2. rustylink

    This is a little different then a car you drive every day – RVer’s are a funny sort – it’s not out of the question that an new RV owner would want to rebuild an engine with that low of miles on it given the age to get a piece of mind out on the road – especially if they plan a lot of travel. I am not arguing whether or not that is what I would do – I am just pointing out that RV’s are a bit different with regards to fact that RV’er wants to be stuck on the road and or having to figure a way to get their vehicle to a place to be serviced with this in mind – so some just pony up the cash for a rebuild regardless of the mileage claims.

    Like 9
  3. Mark

    “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.”

    Like 31
    • JOEY V

      “That’s the facts, Jack”

      Like 6
      • Curt Lemay

        Ziskey, “I once got my ass kicked in Wisconsin.”

        Like 9
  4. Moe Moe

    Stipes Lol Good Movie.

    Like 3
  5. Ralph

    The interior has been redone in a big way. Cushions, walls, mirrors, ceilings.
    The counter tops (tile) in the cooking area and bath are not factory, nor have the walls in the bath been redone. Not certain about the cabinet work though.
    Not sure what to think of this one, for me would want to inspect it with a real sharp eye and nose. (nothing worse than an old RV full of mystery smells)
    Been looking for one of these but would rather “steal” an old original one and do the updates and rehab work myself.
    One of these with excellent mechanicals and a full new custom interior, with upgrades to 2021, (solar, better A/C, heat, bathroom, floors (no carpet, new kitchen, etc.) would be something of real value. Todays RVs are nice looking but not equal to what these were…YMMV.

    Like 5
  6. George

    Not using a camper enough can lead to engine problems at low mileage. The engine may not be kept sufficiently lubricated. Common in Class C campers to have engine problems by 40K.

    Like 7
  7. Jack M.

    The Barn Find writers do a great job providing entertainment to thousands of readers from a few short sentences in a Craigslist or EBay ad. As Barn Finds stories are not typically where a serious car buyer would hunt for a new car, the writers should not have to tell you every time to verify the mileage and do a proper inspection before purchasing. Maybe you should have to push a button similar to accepting cookies that you agree Barn Finds has no knowledge of the actual mileage before you are allowed to read the story.

    Like 14
  8. wesley alker

    I couldn’t care less about the mileage. What I DO care about, however, is WHO did the engine and transmission. If they’re “Jaspers”, installed by a reputable, privately owned shop, I would be happy with that.

    Like 1
  9. Car Nut Tacoma

    Another awesome post. This is my idea of what a motorhome should be. At 26ft, it’s large enough for 2 adults to live in comfortably while traveling cross country, but it’s also small enough that anyone with a driver’s license can drive

    Like 5
  10. Big Steve

    For us Oldsmobile fans the biggest question is that 403 engine. Olds started making the 403 in 77, what was the original engine in 76? I thought most of these GMC motorhomes had a 455 Olds in them and needed every bit of that BBO torque. Not sure if a stock 403 is going to cut it.

    Like 4
    • Car Nut Tacoma

      I wish I knew why GM decided to downsize the engine, going from a 455 cu. in V8 to a 403 cu. in. V8 engine. Perhaps GMC should’ve also downsized the Motorhome as well, make the 23ft Motorhome the standard model, while discontinuing the 26ft Motorhome?

      Like 1
      • Phil D

        Car Nut Tacoma, the decision to downsize from the 455 to the 403 was made for them. Oldsmobile chose (was forced by regulation) to discontinue the 455 when they downsized the B/C body vehicles for fuel economy purposes. If an EPA certified 455 isn’t available to GMC then it’s not going into their motorhomes, and they chose to go with the 403.

        As pointed out by others, though, that change happened in late 1976, for the ’77 model year. If this was really a ’76 model, then it should have started life with a 455, not a 403. This was either a ’77, or the engine in this motorhome wasn’t just “rebuilt”, it was repowered with another engine, which happened to be a 403.

    • DayDreamBeliever Member

      Wasn’t the hot ticket upgrade using the Caddy FWD motor?

      Like 1
      • Loafingjoe

        the 500ci caddy is the closest thing to a plug and play swap.

        But, it is easier, and cheaper, to upgrade the stock 3:07 diff to a 3:55, or 3:70. Puts the 455 or the 403 into a better range – pulls stronger, and may even get better mileage.

        Like 1
  11. Leman

    why would this engine and transmission need to be rebuilt at just 23,000 miles?

    Like 2
    • Car Nut Tacoma

      Maybe because it’s not been driven much? Or the engine and transmission has not been run very often. Even if you’re not going to take a road trip anywhere, if you drive the Motorhome around town, or around the neighbourhood, that should keep the engine and gearbox running.

  12. Brian S

    Leaks are a big reason low-mileage old vehicles get their engines rebuilt. More likely than wear issues if we are to believe the mileage…

    Like 1
  13. t-bone BOB

    Ended: May 19, 2021
    Current bid:US $10,700.00
    [ 62 bids ]
    Reserve not met
    Item location:Omaha, Nebraska

    Like 5
  14. Steve Clinton

    That bathroom mural makes one want to bring a shovel to do their business.

    Like 3
  15. chrlsful

    all ways think allison and 12V when I C these. Great design, 30 yrs ahead. Low entry, no rear axel, frnt wheel drive, no sidexside wheels. A toss up for me w/the Rialta and Vixen. Who needs a big’un, my kids R gone? Some one w/a family. Nota class C guy…

  16. Brian

    If it was only $500 to fix the main AC unit, why would he not have it done ?
    He would get that back 5 times over.. something doesn’t add up …

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