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Yep!

Not that far back, but...

The year was 1973. I built a 1972 Dodge tradesman into a a DIY campervan. Then, me and a college friend took a trip:

4 weeks
7000 miles
Columbus, Indianapolis, Memphis, St. Louis, Texarkana, Dallas, Houston, New Orleans, Ft Walton Beach, Orlando, Disney World, Key Largo, Key West, Miami, Daytona, Atlanta, Washington DC, Home

Gas 28 cents a gallon
Campgrounds $4 a nite

Total trip for 2, including gas, food, camping, & admission fees to lots of sights = $400

ps. just back from a vacation to Cleveland... saw a nice RV there

59117


59118
 

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Amazingly, adjusting for inflation gas prices are actually cheaper than they have been at almost any time in history although it may not seem that way to you old timers. In addition our vehicles are so much more fuel efficient now that we are getting way "more miles for our dollars" than you were at nearly any other point in history.
 

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Reminds me of the younger guys whining about MPG on newer pickups.
They have no idea what an accomplishment it is to have a 400 hp small block that averages 15 mpg.
In a vehicle that weighs almost 3 ton.
 

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I met a couple who had a mid-70's GMC motorhome on my last trip. This one was built on a 455 cubic inch V8 on the Olds Toronado front wheel drive platform. 350 HP, 440 ft lbs of torque, and it gets 8 MPG. According to a calculator I found online, gas averaged $0.36/gallon in 1972, which is $2.20/gallon in 2019 dollars. The shorter version of that rig retailed for $15K when it was introduced in 1972, which is $92K in 2019 dollars. So, a little cheaper than a comparable Class A, but not that big a difference, and roughly similar cost per mile. I don't know if that tells us a lot about the good old days but they weren't a heck of a lot cheaper than today.
 

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I've always had a little bit of a crush on the 66 tornado.
As for the value of the dollar, yes, things are similar.
I meant more of a literal sense.
People complain about fuel economy in big vehicles today. But to get 300+ hp back then, you needed a large engine and had to dump fuel into it.
Today, they're getting more hp out of smaller engines and twice the mileage on a gallon of gas.
Of course, the people complaining about mpg on a new V8 truck, their last vehicle was probably their mom's Jetta.
On another unrelated note, are there any RV manufacturers that build their own vehicle from the ground up, or is everything an upfit to an existing chassis?
 

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......cut.....
On another unrelated note, are there any RV manufacturers that build their own vehicle from the ground up, or is everything an upfit to an existing chassis?
I’m not aware of any in US at present, but in the past there have been plenty over the decades. It’s probably only a matter of time before another entrepreneur tries again.

The GMC is probably the best known, and somewhat different because it was built by a large corporation. However there were other companies that also tried it. FMC built a great motorhome with rear gas pusher that was ahead of its time. The Clark forklift company was somehow involved in the Cortez, one of my favorite classic motorhomes. The Cortez was a small FWD rig that started out with Chrysler slant six, then went to Ford small block V8, and finally the Tornado 455. This was much before the GM.

The Ultra Van was based on Chevy Corvair rear engine and was very light, low, and aero. It was greatly influenced by airplane design.

The last one I recall was the Vixen, which initially had a small BMW diesel in back. It didn’t have much power, but later units switched to Buick 3.8L gasoline V6 and auto transmission from a FWD car. These were very low profile and could fit in a typical garage.

Most of the smaller units were no larger than a ProMaster van, so it’s a lot easier and cheaper now to start with a running chassis than build your own. Someone would need a larger version of a cargo van, or one with a lower floor for some reason. Attached are pictures of Ultra Van, Cortez, and Vixen, the smaller of these motorhomes.

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