Tuesday, 25 September 2012

They don't make them like this anymore

If I had a million dollars I would pimp a GMC motorhome.  I got the itch watching the movie Stripes.  Like a sailboat I have never had a motorhome.  There is something about both that captures the imagination; they say freedom and self-sufficiency like few other objects. If the GMC motorhome was a sailboat it would be an Oyster.  Although manufactured for only 6 years ending production in 1978, there still exists a huge community of GMC motorhome hackers striving to not only preserve but also modernize these vehicles of the future. The primary feature that to this day sets GMC motor-homes apart from all others is the shell is built from Aluminum, not wood or steel. This is the secret sauce that has allowed these “26 ft., 12,000 lb. Antique Hot Rods” to keep on trucking.

Florida is the center of GMC revitalization. Golby Motor Company purchased the original GMC molds, along with a host of other re-makers all the parts exist to build a modern version of the GMC classic. I estimate this would cost $100,000 or more.  This may be expensive, but there is a lot more bang for your buck in such an investment than purchasing a Mercedes based Winnebago.  However as far as I know, no one has ever gone this route because there are thousands of existing models easily restored and driven away by people, even on a limited DIY budget.

But if I had the money this is what I would do.

Buy the 1976 Palm Beach for $1,800.
Ship it to a company that does 3D scanning.
Have them scan all the fiberglass body panels, chassis and other steel parts.
Modify the front body panels to resemble the 23D.
Also create a streamlined air foil that could hold a couple of 250 watt solar panels and reduce turbulence around the roof mounted air conditioners.
Find a job shop that could hydroform body panels out of marine grade aluminum.
Find a shop that could make the chassis out of aluminum instead of steel.
There are a handful of companies that could do the job, but I would send these parts to the Cooperative Motor Works with a big deposit and request they build me GMC Royale with a wet bathroom on the side. In many cases like the rear air suspension, aftermarket solutions have been engineered that far exceed OEM.
Although new replacement engines with modern features like fuel injection are available, I would instruct Jim Bounds to obtain electric motors and lithium packs from Mercedes or Porsche and power the beast with pure electric drive.
In the engine compartment I would fit a modern diesel, Cummings, GM or maybe back to European.  It would only charge the battery packs.  The battery packs would be placed to create a perfect load on the front and rear axles.
The interior would have an executive jet look, no stove; I would have a swing out or slide out barbecue accessed from the outside. It would only sleep two in the center bunk bed configuration, and one in passenger seat, which would be a biz class seat from an airplane. The rear would be an executive road office.
There would also be a 70 inch TV, a TV that could be attached to the outside passenger side, which would also be rigged to hang speakers on.
The paint job would be very similar to the “full tilt buggy”.
Finally I would restore the Palm Beach in the traditional way; it would be sacrilege to leave one behind.

Imagine if more classic cars had been constructed similar to the GMC motorhome.  For sure there would be a lot more diversity on the road. There should be a law that every car company must make one model out of aluminum.

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