Why Oh Why Did GM Cancel The GMC MotorhHome: Video14
There was a time when GM was the automotive innovator. For a while, The General was the trendsetter when it came to transportation. During that golden era, GM knew what buyers wanted before they knew they wanted it. Vehicles such as the Chevrolet Corvette and the Pontiac GTO were perfect examples. And among the plethora of product-focused creations GM brought to the table during its high time was the GMC MotorHome.
Back then, no mainstream carmaker offered a recreational vehicle to market, which made the GMC MotorHome – conceived and sold during the mid-seventies – a big deal. Plus, many would argue that the GMC MotorHome was up to 30 years ahead of its time when compared with conventional RVs sold during that era.
Introduced to an ad with the catchy slogan, “It doesn’t ride like a truck, it doesn’t look like a box,” the GMC MotorHome set itself apart from conventional RVs thanks to its futuristic streamlined design resting on its own bespoke aluminum-intensive architecture. It was also a mechanical tour de force, using not-before seen features such as a side-by-side rear wheel setup with air suspension, which gave the MotorHome unparalleled ride quality compared to the conventional dually configuration.
The GMC MotorHome was powered by an Oldsmobile 455 cubic-inch V8, taken directly from the front-wheel-drive Toronado. As a result, all of the MotorHome’s mechanical components rested over the front wheels, meaning it left plenty of space for interior space packaging, a vital element for RVs. During six years of production, more than 12,000 GMC MotorHomes were built, making it a successful and profitable vehicle for GM.
So why did GM cancel it? At the time, GM bean counters figured there was more money to be made building trucks than recreational vehicles. Meanwhile, the GMC MotorHome was brought to life when gas prices were quite high. Either way, the decision to drop it seems rather short-sighted, as the market for RVs boomed throughout the ’80s and ’90s.
The video below delivers a fairly extensive overview of the GMC MotorHome, making us lust for the days of yore.
Heck, we’d even wager The General would most probably own the RV market by now if it had continued making the GMC MotorHome, potentially adding a Chevrolet variant to boot. Imagine that.
Subscribe to GM Authority for more GMC news and ongoing GM news coverage.
- Sweepstakes Of The Month: Win a 2023 Corvette Z06 Convertible. Details here.
As great as this model was the RV industry has had a tough road with gas prices and down economic times.
I would think GM not remaining here was a good thing in the long run. The GM leadership had a tough enough time just understanding the auto segment let along keeping up with the RV segment.
Oh, my gosh!! What a throwback memory!!
At the ripe young age of 19, I was a brand new sales person for a Buick, Cadillac, GMC and Honda dealer in the mid-west. The owner of the dealership had that exact one showing (green one). I recall that thing sitting around the dealership for odds and ends over the summer months while getting it ready for the winter tour. I fondly recall one specific snowy day before they headed south for the winter, that big green house on wheels needed to be moved. There was a lot of snow piled up, and when they went to move it I recall the front wheels spinning! I was amazed as I had no idea there was ever a front drive motorhome ever built.
What you mean? Isn’t that a Yukon?
Ah, that would have to be the Yukon XXL!! lol.
I believe a major factor in its discontinuation was the end of the large, fwd Toronado that shared this drivetrain. RV volumes alone would not be enough to justify producing the 455 V8 and tranny.
They weren’t even a 455 from 1977-1978, they used the Oldsmobile 403, pretty much identical driveline to the 1977-1978 Toronado, but yeah, the loss of the 80,000 or so FWD E-body cars that shared the driveline probably meant that the motorhome had to go to.
I wonder if they ever toyed with the idea of a smaller one using smaller 1979-1985 E-car FWD UPP unit?
The green one is actually a EM 50 urban assault vehicle driven by one Private John Winger circa 1981 on a secret rescue mission. He was a real go getter ???
Ya, I was gonna say – straight out of the Bill Murray/Harold Ramis movie ‘Stripes’ …
One story I heard for the demise of the GMC Motorhome was that other motor-home manufacturers collectively told GM they would not use a GM chassis if GMC continued building this motor-home.
I don’t remember that story. I was at the Louisville Show that year and always went by to see the GMC display which was neat with fountains, lights, fake deer, fake mountains etc. The display was open the first day. That night at a party the word was going around that GMC was over. The next day the fountains and lights were dark and the staff was gone.
THAT was exactly MY COMMENT about the situation… NONE of the other manufacturers wanted to start competing with their OWN versions of FACTORY BUILT QUALITY MOTORHOMES if all that would do was destroy THE MYRIAD OF ‘MOTORHOME’ manufacturers like airstream, gulfstream, winnebago, etc. WHO THEY DEPENDED ON CONTINUED PURCHASE OF THEIR CHASSIS / DRIVE-TRAINs AND ALL THE SUBSEQUENT MAINTENANCE (still today, the profit on new cars is minimal, but the MAINTENANCE, especially REQUIRED UNDER WARRANTY (Lifetime mechanic/engineer but I used dealer maintenance during warranty just to NOT HAVE TO FIGHT THE DEALER IF THEIR VEHICLE CRAPPED OUT (even with this sometimes they’ll try and somehow blame customer!) . RETIRED NOW AND I’D GLADLY BUY A NEW VERSION OF THIS GMC, maybe with a lithium battery bank and PRIUS ELECTRIC MOTORS AT EACH WHEEL! FOR THAT I’D BE FIRST IN LINE AND PAY CASH FOR IT! TRAVELING FROM COAST TO COAST WITH CAMP OVERNIGHT CHARGING AND/OR TESLA CHARGE STATIONS, IT’d BE A FUN WAY TO GO…
Like so many ideas that GM people have had they are discarded before given a real chance. I grew up in the 50’s my Dad worked at GM. Then GM was run by Car people not bean counters. Back then you buy a car with crank up windows and a big block motor. Today you buy this convenience or that convenience package driving cost up. The last time I was in Detroit having grown up a mile from the Tech Center I drove by for a look. I was shocked at how shabby the Tech Center looks today. Bet Toyota’s Tech Center doesn’t look like that!
Fascinating story. I’ve been interested in the GMC Motorhome since I was a boy. I consider it a shame that it was discontinued when it was. Typical bean counter attitude. They think money would be better spent, however well a vehicle is selling, if it was discontinued in favour of smaller trucks, SUVs, and cars? Short-sighted doesn’t begin to describe their attitude. I would’ve preferred something like a GMC Motorhome over a Winnebago Brave, or Itasca. I find it more attractive as well.
I have always loved the look of these motor homes… And looking at that flat frame they ie GM can build another one using Ultium Electric batteries and their own motors… No Prius motors please… I have unpleasant memories of a Prius I and two other friends went to the NJ shore years ago I sat in the back… Now I have ridden in many vehicles and that thing was uncomfortable as hell the worst interior I have ever been in and it looks like a hoover vacuum cleaner. Anyway GM build a new motor home!