Supercharged RV: 1989 Vixen 21 SE

The words sleek and exotic aren’t usually associated with motorhomes, at least those from the era that a lot of us grew up in, what I call the golden age of camping when there were almost endless manufacturers getting in on the craze in the late-60s throughout the 1970s. This 1989 Vixen 21 SE is unlike almost anything that I would have seen growing up. The seller has it listed here on craigslist in Queen Creek, Arizona, just southeast of Phoenix, and they’re asking $18,500 or offer. Thanks to craiger for sending in this tip!

I’d better start off here by acknowledging the GMC Motorhome which we’ve seen here on Barn Finds many times over the years. They were “space-age” in design and this Vixen 21 looks like it could somehow be related and the Vixen was in fact a response to that motorhome. That being said, most of the motorhomes from the 1970s and 80s were big, lumbering, flat-faced boxes skinned with aluminum panels and they were made in giant factories typically in Indiana or other Midwestern states. The Vixen was designed by Delorean designer Bill Collins and they were made in Pontiac, Michigan by the Vixen Motor Company. As with the Delorean, it was an incredibly short-lived company. There weren’t many of them made, just under 600 total in three different models between 1986 to 1989.

This is a Vixen 21 SE, and you may have guessed that the 21 part of the name relates to the length. Yes, they were designed to fit into a standard garage and the early models had a pop-up top whereas this later model has a fixed roof. The pop-up models were six feet high which is wild if you think about it. It’s hard to get a scale on this one without a person standing by it (the giant thumb doesn’t count), but I could look over the top of an early version. The SE came later and this one has a 1995 Pontiac automatic transmission and a 1997 supercharged Buick Riviera V6. Just over 170 SE versions were made. They have owned this one for 25 years and are getting to be too old to use it, according to the listing.

Early models, the Vixen 21 TD, had a BMW turbodiesel and they only came with a 5-speed manual. That’s the one that I would want and we saw a nice one here on Barn Finds a handful of years ago. The seller says that this is the only red Vixen that came from the factory and if that’s the case, that’s pretty cool, but I’d still want a silver one with the original wheel and tire package. They have a link in the craigslist ad for more photos but I couldn’t get it to work, maybe one of you can get to those extra photos? This is it for interior photos in the craigslist ad which is super disappointing since a seller can load 24 photos. I’ll never understand that. They say that the seats have been redone with “fresh leather” and some interior modifications have been done.

It looks longer than 21-feet to me but maybe that’s because it’s so low, even with the fixed roof on this later model. They say that the supercharged Buick V6 has 104,000 miles and the Vixen itself has 130,000 miles. The engine needs some work like fixing a power steering pump leak, the fuel gauge isn’t correct all the time, and the front and rear suspension needs work. If the interior checks out this could be a good buy. Have any of you seen a Vixen 21 motorhome?

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Comments

  1. Big_Fun Member

    The gentleman who posted this has a professional upholstery operation. That is why the fresh leather. Also, he owns the 1970 Toronado GT. I reached out to him on the Toronado – I encouraged him to sign up for barnfinds to answer questions on both vehicles…

    Like 15
    • Big_Fun Member
      • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

        Thanks, Big_Fun, but that’s the same link in the ad and it doesn’t open for me. I even signed into my Apple account but it didn’t seem to work, it says “shared photos not available”.

        Like 5
      • Big_Fun Member

        I did reach out to owner to say the link didn’t work.

        Like 4
      • William R McDonald

        The link doesn’t work and I’d really like to see the interior!!!!!!

        Like 1
  2. Big_Fun Member
    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      You’re a treasure, Big_Fun, thanks very much!

      Like 5
    • Hall-z Member

      Thank you for sharing these. This is how all motor homes should be built in my opinion. I love low stuff though.

      Like 1
    • Mike

      Watching the videos makes me feel like a drunk fly buzzing around the RV.

      An extremely cool RV.

      Like 3
    • William R McDonald

      Not very good videos!!!!!

      Like 1
      • Car Nut Tacoma

        I’d love to see the Vixen in action. How about a drive around the neighbourhood?

        Like 1
  3. angliagt angliagt Member

    A friend of mine maintained one of these for an older
    couple,& he told them that he’d be interested in buying it,
    if they ever wanted to sell it.They sold it before checking
    back with him.
    These are cool rigs.

    Like 4
  4. Moncton(was Winnipeg)carnut Member

    Someone brought one to a car show in Winnipeg a few years ago and would let you go inside. The floor was incredibly low and it felt bigger inside than it looked.

    Like 6
  5. Moparman Member

    This has got to be one of, if not the coolest RV’s I’ve ever seen. If I was in the market, I’d seriously consider this, that is, if the interior headroom space allows for 6’4″ persons! GLWTS!! :-)

    Like 6
  6. Kurt

    The one I saw had the BMW turbo Diesel engine and looked really slow. Hopefully the GM power train has more oomph.

    Like 1
  7. bull

    Great Price for a Great Vixen!

    Like 2
  8. Joe Padavano

    Does someone have to run behind it with their thumb out blocking the license plate when it’s driven on the road?

    Like 10
    • bull

      YES!!!

      Especially when a Vixen is equipped with BMW power!

      Like 6
    • Kurt

      Yeah the original thumb-drive…

      Like 11
  9. Bamapoppy

    Needs front and rear suspension work translates to $$$. Does this Vixen have struts? Struts these days are sooo costly! I agree with moparman that this is the coolest looking RV!

    Like 1
  10. Car Nut Tacoma

    As motorhomes go, tis is perhaps the best looking I’ve ever seen. I’ve heard of Vixen motorhome. It’s a damn shame it wasn’t on the market for very long before being discontinued. I can imagine this being a good rig for the newbie RVer, the traveling businessman, or the veteran RVer who wants to downsize from a 30ft+ diesel pusher. I can imagine something like this being powered by a Duramax 2.8 litre Turbo Diesel engine.

    Like 2
  11. chrlsful

    this was all ways #1 for me due to size & make. Didn’t know they were so rare. Wasn’t aware there was a pop top version either. The GMC #2, and mini (bumper hitch) came in as 1 or 2 also (Scamp or other sm light weight). All 3 of these R durably water tight. Just wanna shower in whichever is chosen. Lived one semester ina 15, 20 ft bumper hitch w/a shower like the Vixen. Stand over the toilet, switch flush valve up and it shoots out da shower nozzle, dwn flushes. Usually wanna upgrade sz fridge, tho. Can shrink dwn mosta da beds (width). Able to stretch my legs out straight = I can live in it permanently. 3 burner stove’n micro…aahhh, luxury.
    Its abt where U can go, what U see, who U meet, what U can do in some of these places often accessible w/a smaller rig & getting further on smaller bank accounts.

    Like 2
  12. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    Wow! I can’t believe nobody said LS. Seems some people think everything has to have those high dollar engines, even the Bi-turbo Masseratti from a day or two ago. Anyway it is what it is.
    God bless America

    Like 2
  13. James Espey

    Bill Collins was actually the Chief Engineer for DeLorean, overseeing production of two concept/demonstrator cars when it was to be a mid-engined car. He left DMC when the job of production engineering went to Lotus in 1978. The designer of the DeLorean was Giorgio Giugiaro, who also designed the VW Golf and Scirocco.

    Collins went to AMC and after the Renault merger, started on this motorhome project.

    Like 3
    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      That’s a good point, James. I was pretty loose in my description of Mr. Collins being the “designer” since most of us think of design as being the visual outcome of a product. I was thinking more of the overall designer, as in the function and big idea man.

      Like 1
    • James Espey

      Should have read as “Giorgetto Giugiaro” – dang autocorrect!

      Had gas prices stayed at their early 80s prices, Vixen would have been able to carry on for many years, I think.

      Bill still owns the original Vixen prototype, too!

      Like 2
      • alphasud Member

        I have a friend who owned a Vixen at one point and Mr Collins came to their house to have dinner with them. I sent him the link BTW and it has them pining for another one.

  14. jwaltb

    Supposedly the early models would do the ton or get close to 30 MPG. Very cool RVs

    Like 1
  15. SubGothius

    To get an idea of size, these were only about as tall as a full-size van (minus the pent roof on this one) and maybe slightly wider, so judge the length on that basis.

    The original Vixens’ popup roof was pretty interesting, a solid panel hinged along the passenger side, so the driver side raised up, then smoked Plexiglas panels folded down to fill the opening, forming a sort of clerestory roof effect.

    Like 2
  16. JoeNYWF64

    Rear fender skirts add to that ’80s back in the day futuristic look.
    Maybe the only production motorhome with them?

    Like 1
  17. Car Nut Tacoma

    I love the roofline. Depending on how tall whoever uses the Vixen is, he or she should be able to walk around comfortably inside it. At 5’8″ tall, I could probably fit comfortably.

  18. On and On On and On Member

    I was amazed today, I saw one driving south on I-94 near Eau Claire, Wisconsin. It was white and towing an empty trailer………….was clippin along too.

    Like 1
  19. Car Nut Tacoma

    I don’t get why it wasn’t successful. I would think there would be people who would want a 20ft diesel pusher motorhome. Whether you’re a 1st time RVer or a veteran RVer, this makes much more sense than buying a behemoth monster on wheels. This looks like something one could drive around town in and still be able to park most places most larger Class A Diesel pushers wouldn’t dare park.

  20. Kevin

    Lol,looks like a Toyota previa swallowed a winnebago!

    Like 1
    • Car Nut Tacoma

      I find this way better looking than most Winnebago Class A motorhomes of the same vintage. It’s a shame Winnebago didn’t pick it up and run with it. They could’ve used something smaller than the Brave, the Chieftain, and possibly the Elandan, etc.

      • Kevin

        I hear you,I was strictly trying to be silly,we definitely need to more, in the crazy world today.

        Like 1
  21. Car Nut Tacoma

    Hey Kevin. I agree. With so many Class A Diesel pusher motorhomes pushing 40ft in length, this would be perfect for those just starting out RVing, or if you’re a veteran RVer looking to downsize. Who needs a 40ft diesel pusher when a 22ft diesel pusher would work just as well.

  22. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    CL update: someone must have grabbed this Vixen, the ad was removed.

  23. Car Nut Tacoma

    Craigslist ads rarely last for very long, usually a day or two after the ad was placed.

  24. Car Nut Tacoma

    I’d buy a Vixen 21 SE if I could find a decent driveable example. I’d rather drive this than a 35ft class A motorhome.

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