Friday, August 16, 2013

5k: Salt Flats Custom Motorhome, Oldsmobile 455 FWD Power

Today is the final day of the 2013 edition of Speed Week, the annual festival of horsepower on the salt put on by the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA), out on the Bonneville Salt Flats just east of Wendover, Utah. This editor was out "on the salt" earlier this week for day-job duties but happened across a very enticing find. Check out this "1971 Oldsmobile" custom motorhome, which near as we can tell, was built on a GMC FWD motorhome platform which uses a 455 cubic inch (7.5 liter) Oldsmobile V8, front wheel drive and "bogies" in the rear suspension meaning there is no intrusion into the living space from driveshaft or axles. This allows for a very low, compact motorhome with plenty of space inside. The featured RV has a custom fabricated body and was apparently built in the mid '70s and has had only two owners. It is lives in Montana but is currently in Utah and offered for $6k, or $7k with matching car trailer (contact info in the text below).

The owner posted a very thorough description in the window with a list of features, which we will share here verbatim:

"One-of-a-kind motorhome $6,000. This is a custom-built "GMC wannabe"; 455 Olds engine with front-wheel drive & automatic transmission; licensed as a 1971 Olds Motorhome; 27' long; 8' tall; 8' wide; GMC air-ride tandem rear wheels (easily leveled from the driver's seat); 16.5 wheels with new 900/16.5 tires all around; spare tire in rear compartment; side/rear toilet/shower; twin beds with foam mattresses; 16 cu.ft. Instamatic Model 272 gas/electric fridge; 3-burner stove; range hood; microwave; 6.2 gal. hot water heater with engine-water heat system; two 30-gal. propane bottles..."

"...combination AM/FM Radio/CB in dash with short antennas; 60 gal. fresh water tank with pressure tank; 30 gal. gray water tank; 30 gal. black water tank; 15' patio awning on passenger side; 44" & 62" window awnings on driver side; 3 roof vents, all with covers & one with thermostat & powered fan..."

"...7' couch; 2'x4' movable table; driver & passenger seats swivel; fully carpeted with commercial grade carpet; lots of large windows & all windows have full privacy tint (you can see out, no one can see in) & either curtains or matching roller shades. This is a 2-owner unit custom-built in Montana in the mid-1970's by a welder/fabricator with a reputation for good work, using the best parts available. It has been loved & maintained by both owners. All maintenance records are available, including paperwork for all appliances & lots of spare parts. Interior is updated to blue denim/navy/brown leather/wood color scheme."

"Also available for $1,500 is a custom-made 17' long trailer with fenders, 7,500 lb. axle & springs, 1-ton hubs & electric brakes with 8-bolt wheels & 900/16.5 tires to match the motor home. Bed is 61" wide, 12' long, outside fender width is 71", with 10" ground clearance. Made to fit 1988 Suzuki Samurai. Has loading ramps, a 2 5/16" ball, a storage tray in the tongue & an enclosed box on one side. Call Betty at (406) 781-5346 any time.

$7,000 for motor home AND trailer."

Unfortunately we could not get good shots of the interior from the outside, but suffice it to say it looked to be in nice, serviceable shape and we wouldn't hesitate to spend a night in there as-is. The interior decor was very '70s, but if you could get past that (and the likely single-digit fuel economy from the big thirsty carbureted V8), this would make a great race support rig or camping vehicle. It was full of little custom touches and looked well thought out, and cared for. It apparently has a lot of history on the salt too, which is cool, but PPI would be in order to check for undercarriage rust. With that ladder on the back and a big flat roof, it would work well as a viewing platform too - just add EZ-up.

Find a saltier custom camper for less? Email us here:


  1. ~ kind of strange you've taken a liking to this coach since i have a similar motorhome moth-balled at my son's in Arizona. mine differs in that it is factory built by the step son of Wally Byum, founder of Airstream, called Revcon. the brand was extensively tested at GMC testing facility and is credited with inspiring the decision to build the GM in-house motorhomes. all aluminum shell except end caps, it has had an engine transplant to a 500 cube Cadillac driveline. some owners claim the lower profile yields respectable fuel consumption.

  2. This class and era of motorhome will forever conjure the sight of Walter White in the desert in his underwear and gas mask.

    1. ~ Walter and Weird Al. Albuquerque

  3. Scot:

    Yours looks to be sano! This one is everything that was wrong about "conventional" early 1970's America.....too much brown, requirement that you dress like Evel Knievel or Elvis in his drug fueled Vegas-Nixon clown period.

    And Walter White would certainly park his Aztec next to it!

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. ~ unfortunately mine is not that nice. that's the finest Revcon i know of, although there are a strong number of enthusiastic owners who provide support and advice through several forum boards and a tight bond of similarity with the GMC factory coaches.

  5. ~ something different.

    1. Scot... that is a classic!! Thanks for sharing. All I could think of was Modern Day Prairie Schooner or... someone from Oscar Meyer called Oldsmobile and said they needed something more practical for their vacation.


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