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Car and Driver: The Spirit of ’76: See America First, in This GMC Motorhome


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GMC-Camper-101

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Camping, as an American pastime, dates back at least as far as Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone at dawn of the 1900s, but it really didn’t ramp up until the 1960s, arguably reaching its zenith in the 1970s. Combine that with the bicentennial year’s impetus to see America first (rather than traipsing off to Acapulco or Paris), and 1976 was undoubtedly a banner year for heading to Yellowstone in an RV. And what better RV than the ultra-modern GMC motorhome?

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The GMC motorhome was introduced for 1973 and remained in production through 1978, over which period nearly 13,000 were built. A radical departure from conventional motorhomes, it was built on the front-wheel-drive chassis of the Oldsmobile Toronado and Cadillac Eldorado, and used the Oldsmobile 455-cubic-inch V-8—later switching to the Olds 403 V-8. The lack of a driveshaft and an unusual swing-arm rear-suspension design allowed for an ultra-low floor and a low overall height. The smooth-sided body of fiberglass and aluminum, combined with the dual rear axles, extra-large windows, and wraparound windshield, made the GMC the style-setting, ne plus ultra of motorhomes.

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This 1976 example, on offer from Sierra Classics and Imports in Reno, Nevada, is a 26-foot model—a 23-footer also was offered but was much less popular. Powered by the 455 V-8, it features air-conditioning, an on-board generator, a kitchen and bath, and sleeping for four. Whereas most RVs where white corrugated aluminum, the GMCs came in various colors, including the ’70s-tastic harvest gold we see here. The interior is equally period, with—yes—shag carpet and plaid tufted seating. Mileage is only 28,000, so one imagines this camper extraordinaire still has in it some further exploration of this great nation’s highways and byways, done with imitable American style.

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“The Spirit of ’76” is C/D’s 4th-of-July holiday-weekend series highlighting some of the most awesome cars for sale from our nation’s bicentennial year.

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GMC-Camper-103

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GMC Motorhome floor plans

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