The mystery motorhome. Photos courtesy Geoff Hacker.
When we have a question on an obscure fiberglass-bodied car from the 1950s to the 1970s, Geoff Hacker, founder of Forgotten Fiberglass and Undiscovered Classics, is the first person we call. Recently, Geoff came across this unknown (and unusual) motorhome from the 1970s on a friend’s Florida property, and he’s asked for the help of Hemmings readers in identifying it.
There isn’t much to go on. Built upon a Ford commercial chassis, it likely started life as a step van before its conversion to an RV. The aluminum body is welded together, not riveted, and each seam was sanded smooth before the body was painted. Geoff suspects it may have been built as a special order by a company that built work vans and trucks during the 1970s, but which one?
Though now in Florida, the RV was first registered in Iowa, and its title indicates the starting point was a 1971 Ford chassis. Overall length is a relatively compact (for an RV) 22-feet, and the title lists a GVWR of 7,080 pounds. Power comes from a Ford Y-block V-8, which Geoff suspects may be a 390.
As a motorhome, it’s got a few interesting details. The roof-mounted air conditioner is located in the front of the rig, a sign that the original vehicle lacked dash air conditioning (which Geoff confirms). The power receptacle, used for hooking to an electric supply at campgrounds, appears to be at the front of the cab on the passenger side, about as far away from the typical feed location as one can get. Though previously equipped with a generator (suspended from the rear bumper but removed before Geoff’s purchase), this appears to be an afterthought, adding evidence that this was a one-off creation and not a prototype RV from an established builder.
Geoff purchased the rig from a friend that’s owned it for over two decades. The groovy 1970s-style paint was applied at that time, though it appears as if the rest of the rig was left untouched. Inside, Geoff describes it as dated and musty (thanks to Florida’s humidity, we suspect), but completely dry. Like the rest of the body, the roof was crafted of thick aluminum, and has no seams to leak.
This isn’t the first motorhome that Geoff and his friends have rescued from the Florida wilds. In 2007, they pulled Ultravan #377, one of roughly 300 ever built, from a palmetto swamp, but there was no mystery surrounding the origins of that particular camper.
So what is his latest find? Is Geoff correct in his belief that this was a custom creation, built from a step van for a client that cared more about durability than cost? Have you ever seen an RV even remotely similar in shape and construction?