May 152017
 
Argosy 28 Motorhome

It looks like an Airstream. In fact the old motorhome that’s the topic today was made by a sister company, this line and the other both sharing a strong family resemblance. Introducing the Argosy. Considered a “budget” camper by the firm, not that they were really all that inexpensive…just less so than the true Airstreams which were God-awful pricey…well, these could be had for a “little” less.

Where as the Airstream was glorious bare aluminum throughout, the Argosy was painted and made use of some steel panels in certain places. Inside, as well, the appointments were perhaps less opulent. The parent company was a luxury line, while this one catered to those who wanted the Airstream experience without completely breaking the bank.

Argosy 28, a vintage motorhome and a poor man’s Airstream. Researched, written and photographed by Chris Doering and Connie Biggart (BIGDoer.com/Synd)

Still, an Argosy was more Airstream than not, and even looked the part. You could not “unpaint” one however, and make an Airstream of it (explained in a bit).

Scroll down for photos and to comment.

The Argosy company was founded in the early 1970s – Airstream itself dates to the 1930s. Initially this new offshoot firm produced only trailers but after a few years branched out into motorhomes as well. Four lengths were produced from twenty to twenty eight feet (roughly 6m to 8.5m). The chassis was provided by an outside supplier.

Throughout production, which lasted some five years, the look differed very little. The only major change, about mid-way through production, was a switch over from round to rectangular headlights. Ones from 1974 to 1976 had the former, while for the next two years it was the latter.

Argosy Motorhome production ended in 1978 (trailers were made into 1979). It’s not sure what killed the line, but it was a crowded market back then, the economy was cooling…can’t say for sure. Airstream itself would later go on to make a motorhome of its own, looking much like the Argosy but all shiny silver…as God intended an Airstream to be. Several features seen in Airstreams would in fact be “tested” on the Argosy line before being widely adopted.

The end caps used on Argosy Motorhomes were steel. And less complicated in form. Body panels were aluminum and many were in fact rejects from Airstream production, ones with small blemishes and such that if bare would be unacceptable, but if filled in and painted could go unnoticed. If stripped these flaws would be obvious.

The Argosy line was not made in the same factory as Airstreams.

The home on wheels photographed here was found sitting on a side street in an industrial section of Calgary. It’s plated and appears in reasonable shape overall – not bad since it’s some forty years old. It’s got the square headlights mentioned earlier so we know it’s from the last two years of production. Being a “28”, it was the longest model the firm made. We’ve seen photos of the shorter ones and they appear oddly stubby and not quite “right”.

The chassis for this one is a GMC/Chevrolet and is powered by a “454”, the company’s largest engine at the time. Can’t help think she’d be a gas guzzler and woefully under powered…this motorhome is a good size after all. It might seem funny today, but in the 1970s, even into the 1980s and beyond diesels were not all that common in applications such as this. They just weren’t ready for market back then. As such all old motorhomes shared two common feature, huge fuel bills and generally lack-lustre performance. They’d be hell in the mountains, and perhaps even not all that “inspired” on the flats. As fast off the line as a little old lady with a walker!

Today, modern diesel motorhomes, at least in regards to get up and go, must seem like Indy cars in comparison.

It’s not known if GM chassis were used exclusively for all sizes and years. No one we spoke with could say for sure. Still, both Ford and Dodge offered similar bare truck chassis for motorhome use so it could be plausible. Any experts care to chime in?

An image search suggests that all Argosy Motorhomes were painted in a base shade of cream, as here or sometimes white, with a couple accent stripes of varying colours. Oh so retro today! One’s from the last year, it seems, had a lower belt-line stripe with a jog in it. Or at least some of them did. Experts? Again? Speak up!

If you have an old motorhome, roadworthy, a project or one in retirement, you think we and our readers would like to see, send us a message. We’d love to come document it!

Random ramblings…

We’re often asked how we pay the bills here at BIGDoer HQ. It’s a struggle. We do get payment for some articles republished elsewhere (what these bring in is abysmal). Some funds are made on sale or licensing of photos. We get some well paid commissioned gigs now and then. We do behind the scenes work for firms and museums, doing paid research or writing projects. We take in donations (we’re not proud), cash or even things we can sell, people offering this as a thank you for our hard work.

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So in the end, we’re lucky to break even. Very lucky. More often we run a deficit. I guess since there’s no money in it, we must be doing it out of some crazy misguided love. That explains it! If you’d like to help us so we can keep offering up great content like we do, we’d love to hear from you. All help is appreciated.

We’re Boler obsessed but got a thing for old motorhomes and campers too…
Shasta Astro.
GMC Motorhome.
Vixen Motorhome.

If you wish more information on what you’ve seen here, by all means contact us!

Date: April, 2017.
Location: Calgary, AB.
Article references: The fine folks at AirForums.com whose help was invaluable.

Argosy Motorhome

A 1970s era Argosy Motorhome still on the road!

Argosy 28 Motorhome

This is a model 28, the largest in the line.

Argosy Airstream Motorhome

Looks like an Airstream, and in fact was made by that company.

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10 Comments on "Argosy 28"

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Karen Lilley
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Karen Lilley

Absolutely gorgeous!

Holly Turner
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Holly Turner

Omg, this is such a beut!

Mike Ladouceur
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Mike Ladouceur

(via Facebook)
This looks like it’s in front of Mike’s transmission shop in High River.

Fergus Warman
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Fergus Warman

20, 24 and 28 feet I think. This is the longest one.

Lani
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Lani

I remember having one, it was such a beauty.

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