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Motorhomes and Travel Trailers

Studebaker Drivers Club Ohio Chapter Meet, Tallmadge, Ohio, August 25, 2012

Loewys, Avantis, and Hawks, oh boy!I spent several hours wandering around the Studebaker Drivers Club meet in Tallmadge, just east of Akron, on Saturday, August 25 and came away with a pocket full of dead NiCad batteries and an SD card full of photos. Here's some of what I saw:

Continue reading "Studebaker Drivers Club Ohio Chapter Meet, Tallmadge, Ohio, August 25, 2012" »

Car Lust Classic--The GMC Motorhome

GMC Motorhome...beginning in the 1972 calendar year, General Motors introduced what may be their most original, brilliant, and beautiful technical achievement of all time... and that's not a simple thing to say. While other motorhomes were just manufactured bodies dropped onto an existing truck frame, the GMC was designed from the ground up to act as a single component. Also unlike other RVs, this vehicle was not just built to be lived in, it was also designed to be driven....

Click here to read the rest of the original post by That Car Guy, and to leave your comments.

The Aero-Trail: a 21st Century Trailer

A good friend of mine who is a local automotive reporter and fellow racing nut suggested wanting a really modern trailer to take to Florida and leaving it there for future trips. It got me excited. I've designed many power boats before, but never thought of designing a travel trailer. This is my first attempt.

Aero-Trail by Virgil M. Exner, Jr, 2012Now, I'll have to design a matching tow vehicle.

--Virgil M. Exner, Jr.

Download a PDF of the Aero-Trail by clicking here

Teardrop Trailers

Teardrop behind HondaRecently, in the top-secret Car Lust underground bunker, garage, test facility, and broken soft drink vending machine storage area, one of our own contributors said that maybe we should write more about "forgotten or bizarre cars."

Well, I thought we had been doing that, at least a little, but ok. So in response to that challenge, I'd like to present one of the least known and used forms of RV travel and camping ever... the mighty mini Teardrop Trailer.

But first, a lot of folks share the Top Gear presenters' opinions of RVs... that they are slow, they clog up the highways, and use up too much fuel. They have even done several films showing their dismay of "caravans" and the like. A teardrop does none of that traffic hinderment... these miniscule mobile homes are extremely lightweight, and add almost no drag at all to any vehicle that is pulling them.

034I was first exposed to these moving microbial mansions in 1979, when my friend whose family had the '69 Buick Riviera brought one home. Each of our group had RVs of some description during our high school/college days, and this trailer was his contribution to our makeshift campground. I had a '68 Ford 1/2-ton pickup with a small camper on the bed, but that's another story.

He bought the trailer as a "fixer-upper," and we helped him where we could. Electrically-minded Dave ran wires, attached lights, and installed a 12-volt fan. I could use a jigsaw and a drill, so installing the panelling and the skylight/vent were my jobs. So was reattaching the hatch when it fell off which, luckily, was only once.

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An Introduction to RV Week

Recreational vehicles have been around in one form or another since before the internal combustion engine, and not long after cars and trucks became widely available for retail sale, enterprising owners began putting homebuilt structures on them that we'd call camper bodies today.

We don't know who the first RV builder was, but we do know for a certainty who was the inventor of the modern travel trailer....

Wally Byam and his wife Stella, posing with an Airstream trailer in 1955

Continue reading "An Introduction to RV Week" »

The GMC Motorhome (1973-1978 Model Years)

GMC Motorhome front Say what you will about RVs. Some folks think they are modern, luxurious castles on wheels, while others blame them for all traffic gridlock, fuel shortages, and bad weather. The guys across the big pond at TopGear UK absolutely loathe them, and have presented their disgust on several hilarious occasions.

But let's time-travel again to, say, 1972, just before the first Arab Oil Embargo hit the Unites States. Recreational vehicle sales were booming, gas could be had for about twenty cents a gallon, and it was extremely plentiful. Large vehicles were the rule of the day, and many people thought that driving a small car was an unnecessary safety risk.

GMC Motorhome cutaway Built beginning in the 1972 calendar year, General Motors introduced what may be their most original, brilliant, and beautiful technical achievement of all time... and that's not a simple thing to say. While other motorhomes were just manufactured bodies dropped onto an existing truck frame, the GMC was designed from the ground up to act as a single component. Also unlike other RVs, this vehicle was not just built to be lived in, it was also designed to be driven.

The styling of the GMC Motorhome was and is elegant and futuristic. I think it has withstood the test of time and still looks good today. Maybe the grille area is a bit dated, but the body's organic curved shapes, like a Porsche 928, should never go out of style. Many of the design elements of the GMC Motorhome were used later in the production of the Vixen, but that beauty is another story and probably deserves a post of its own.

Continue reading "The GMC Motorhome (1973-1978 Model Years)" »

Great Rides of Summer Week: A Two-Story Jeep Wrangler

Top-gear-builds-thre_460x0w It wasn't long ago that I saw a Top Gear episode where those three gentlemen each "built" an RV. Richard Hammond had a Land Rover 110-based motorhome that "grew," James May's Lotus-inspired device was somewhat cleverly compact, and Jeremy Clarkson's tipsy Citroen CX colossus, complete with Japanese contemplation area, is shown here on the right.

They had previously done a show on caravaning that ended in, of course, hilarious disaster. And needless to say, before this "Build your own RV" show was over I was again rolling in speechless hysterics, literally falling out of this chair. I've frequently explored the prospect of building my own camping vehicle, pushing my living-space-expanding quasi-engineering skills to the limit, but none of my ideas even closely approached the extremes that these fellows (And the TopGear writers and producers) had come up with.

So in a recent Car Lust Weekly Open Thread, I asked for submissions ideas for our upcoming "Great Rides of Summer" week. Commentor "RipRip" mentioned the Jeep Wrangler, and he (Or she?) could not have been more Right On! I've never owned a Jeep, but frequently have tried to buy one as they turned up for sale in the neighborhood. One of these open-top trucks would make a great vehicle to play with here on the farm, be great to shuttle gasoline and diesel fuel containers with, and would be fun to just putt putt around in. But a purchase deal has just never worked out.

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$2,500 Challenge Results

We recently ran the $2,500 Challenge, the latest installment in our series of used-car classifieds treasure hunts. And, for the record, the Car Lust community totally outdid itself with this challenge. The vehicles this time around weren't quite as spectacular as the results of the $25K Challenge--no surprise given the more restricted budget--but they were significantly more hilarious.

As you may recall, there was a personal aspect to this challenge--I was in the market for a car in that price range and was living out my own $2,500 Challenge. And, as it turns out, so was fellow Car Luster David Colborne. We have both made our purchases and will be writing up our real-world experiences in the next week.

But, for now, here are a few of my favorites from a group of selections so stellar that I don't even have space to call out suggestions that hit on my usual favorites, cars like the Saab SPG, Peugeot 405 Mi16 and Merkur XR4Ti.

635csi Christie Brinkley Award/Best in Class

This challenge's overall winner is this sultry Euro-spec BMW 635CSi submitted by Shawn. It is also the winner of this challenge's Christie Brinkley Award, honoring a 1980s style icon that has aged gracefully.

Just look at that 6-series--it is long, lean, and beautifully sculpted. Its performance should stand up nicely as well. Assuming that it has been cared for, its turbine-like BMW six and sport suspension should provide both ample power and responsiveness to go with its style.

This 635CSi is a smooth, classy coupe with power and panache; it might cost a little more to maintain than a 1990s Toyota Corolla, but I know which car I'd rather spend my $2,500 on.

Continue reading "$2,500 Challenge Results" »

Pictured above: This is a forlorn Chevy Vega photographed by reader Gary Sinar. (Share yours)

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