Mar 082013
 
Chassis by Ford

In 2012 we found that Big Pink Trailer and in keeping with that theme 2013 brings us The Big Green Motorhome. With its dated lines and paint job, it’s the ultimate retro-mobile, a vintage house on wheels that would make the Brady’s squeal with delight. Like a Pug it’s so ugly it’s cute. I love it!

It’s dirty from sitting and its tight location, stuffed in between a garage and fence, made shooting it difficult. Too bad since it’s very photogenic, in an homely sort of way, and I’d love to get better shots of it. Perhaps next time I can convince the owner to move it out to the street (assuming it runs).

Identifying this motorhome so far has been a real challenge. It took some time but in talking with some vintage RV experts, it’s been confirmed as either a Champion or a Titan by Champion. I am not sure the difference between the two lines, but perhaps it was a Chevrolet/Pontiac thing, a way for the manufacturer to offer two lines to two dealer networks. Or maybe one was more luxurious than the other. Probably something like that. Any experts care to chime in?

↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ Scroll down for photos and to comment ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓

The side of the vehicle is marked Handi-Van and a plate on the front says “Chassis by Ford” but otherwise there were no identifying marks on it. That we could find anyway. It’s clearly on a truck style chassis and as a result it’s probably a rough rider. It’s incredibly wide too and it probably handles like a slug. Those flat sides would likely be a nightmare in a cross wind and and the blunt front end (no streamlining here) would most certainly cause gas mileage to suffer.

This model was built in the early or mid 1970s.

Peering inside it appears complete, but it’s hard to tell since the widows were so dusty and the angle wrong. It does appear however that everything inside is original, given the dated look of what we could see.

I don’t know what’s in store for this mean green machine, but one can hope the owner has intentions to fix it up and take to the road. It’s just too nice a vehicle to let rot away. Imagine the looks one would get driving it, and I bet it would be the centre of attention at any campground. To find out more I will attempt to find the owner of this vehicle.

If you know anything about who made this motorhome and when, we’d LOVE to hear from you

Update: June 2013. With help from the motorhome community we’ve uncovered more information about this machine. One thing that’s interesting is that in the back a large door and ramp folds down allowing one to load a skidoo or cycle inside. A picture from a 1974 issue of Popular Mechanics confirms this feature, which was not visible to us due to the way the unit was parked (in that article the cost of the motorhome is listed at $6000). It’s not clear however how the interior is laid out in respect to that – did the snowmobile/cycle share the living space or was it inside a little garage of some sorts? Regardless, I can’t see either arrangement working out that well.

Update: November 2013. Roger from Okalahoma has sent us a picture of a Champion, looking identical to this one, that he’s hoping to purchase. He promised updates should the deal go through.

Ian from Saskatchewan also had his eye on one, this one a “Titan by Champion” on a GM chassis, which he successfully purchased for the princely sum of $145. He sent us some pictures of it on the drive home – see below. This one has a different grill and front end treatment but it otherwise identical to Big Green.

Update: December 2013. Reader Steve Eastburn sent in some photos showing his immaculate Champion. It’s been in his possession for twenty years and has been well maintained. Not surprisingly, it turns heads where ever it goes. He has some interesting things to say about it in the comments section at the end of this article. Thanks for sharing Steve!

To see that Big Pink Trailer we spoke of earlier, another loudly painted vintage home on wheels, follow the link below…
The Big Pink Trailer.

To see another motorhome from the 1970s, this one a much more advanced looking model from GMC, click the link below…
The GMC Motorhome, a cool retro camper.

If you wish more information on this motorhome, by all means contact us!

Date: March, 2013.
Location: Calgary, AB.

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Big Green Motorhome

The Big Green Motorhome.

Champion Motorhome interior

The dusty windows and odd angle made peering in difficult, but the inside does look complete.

Champion or Titan Motorhome

It’s either a Champion or a Titan by Champion.

Hand-Van Motorhome

The side is marked “Handi-Van”.

Chassis by Ford

There is a plate on the front (below the right headlight) that says “Chassis by Ford”.

Champion motorhome

Roger sent us this photo of a Champion Motorhome he’s hoping to buy that he found in Oklahoma,

Titan Motorhome

Ian from Saskatchewan bought this “Titan by Champion” and it”s seen here being driven home.

Titan by Champion

The back side showing the large door.

Vintage Champion motorhome

Steve owns this well cared for Champion.

Old Champion motorhome

It’s been in his possession for twenty years and turns heads everywhere it goes.

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30 Comments on "The Big Green Motorhome"

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LaZy507
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LaZy507

That’s pretty nice, someone look like they took care of it, with them bars in the front of it ( so no-one can hit the front of it) I take it..hope to see the inside if you can get some pictures. Good Find!!

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ChrisBigDoer

I hope to return and get inside. I’ll track down the owner and will see what they have to say. Thanks for commenting!

aracnid50
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aracnid50

Chris & Connie! This is going to sound a little strange, I saw one of those in 1969 while on R&R out of Viet Nam. My point man and I were in Australia We were in the Brisbane area and you might check on campers out of Aussie land. I showed the pic to a friend of mine, recently retired, and he thinks it was built on the ford chassis. Is it Powered by a ford 360 0r a 460 v-8? I do know Ford made a handi van in the 90’s, we used them in the oil field. It is pretty cool looking and good luck with it!
Chuck

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ChrisBigDoer

Hi Chuck,

Confirmed it’s on a Ford chassis – there is a plate on front stating that.

Thanks for posting!

Muskoka Guy
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Muskoka Guy

Hi Chris, Im pretty sure you have a Champion made btwn 1974 &76, does it have a rear door, if I recall it would swing up with struts to hold it up, if it does it is a Champion or Titan made by Champion, they were the first toy hauler MH. they are very rare. I hope you can post more pics.

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ChrisBigDoer

Thanks for your input! I’ve had a few people say it’s either a Champion or Titan, which makes sense since it looks somewhat similar to either of those brands. However, I have yet to find an exact match. Finding out the lineage of this thing is turning out to be an interesting challenge.

topdownman
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topdownman

Looks like it could be fired up and driven away. Very cool.

Guest
ChrisBigDoer

It must move as on Google streetview it’s in a different spot on the same property.

Roger
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Roger

Hey guys. There’s one here in Okla, it has a Chevy frame and running gear. I’ve been all over the web trying to get some information on it. Anyway, I’ve talked to the owner, if he’ll put a price on it, I’ll try to buy it. There must not be very many of them left. They’re so odd looking that I’m strangely drawn to it.

Guest
ChrisBigDoer

It’s such a unique design, down right homely if you ask me. Bur for some reason, I like it too. Good luck with your offer, and keep us updated on how it goes.

Roger
Guest
Roger

I’ve talked to the owner a couple of times. The first price he quoted was $2000. The next time we talked he asked $1200, which is a little more realistic. The floors seem solid, you can see a couple of minor water leaks in the ceiling corners. The motor is a 350, the trans. is a turbo 400. Trans. was rebuilt, but the motorhome has been sitting for about 15 yrs. Overall it seems like a solid old rig. I would send a picture, but it won’t paste in the comment box.

Steve Eastburn
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Steve Eastburn
I have one that is just like this one, a 1974 Champion. Original paint was a copper and brown theme. It is on a Chevy drive train/ 1 ton frame.Over the past 20 years of driving and remodeling it; I have looked at one on a Dodge and the other on a Ford. 16′ bumper to bumper & the rear door. I’ve had comments every time we take it out. “Is that some sort of proto-type?, or “Did you make that thing?” This one came originally with a 6cyl engine with a 3 on the tree transmission. It use to have a toilet and sink, fold down bench seats on the passenger side, small propane heater and stove. It had orange shag carpet and wood paneling. All modern now, minus the potty. All the walls and ceiling, including under the floor are sprayed with ex-pando-foam. All the framing is steel… Read more »
iang
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iang

Hi, I just bought a 1974 Titan which is almost identical except for color and grill layout.What month was the article in 1974 Popular Mech magazine? Thx

Roger
Guest
Roger

Hey iang.

This Roger in Okla. I just bought my 1974 Champion too. I’m still trying to figure out how to break this exciting news to my wife. Ha. Anyway it’s just like the “Big Green Motorhome” except it has the Chevy running gear. Would you mind sharing your contact info with me? I hope to fix mine up like Steve’s awesome motorhome. I’ll have pictures soon, the former owner is in the process of cleaning his stuff out.
Thanks.

iang
Guest
iang

Hey Roger, I plan on keeping mine for a long time, got a lot of parts already lined up, like a fridge/stove/sink unit from a VW camper. It suits me, its cheap, not very handsome and fairly reliable, qualities the camper and I share, lol. TTYL , Ian

iang
Guest
iang

Thx Chris n Connie, I’m rounding up some interesting old car n machinery pics i took over the years to send you, it’s great to find other junk enthusiasts who appreciate the remnants of the past. Take Care.

mike clark
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mike clark

We have 1974 titan chassis by Ford handi van. six banger with three on the tree automatic. I could use any parts info., especially a radiator.

geeeg
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geeeg

I live out of a blue one.

geeeg
Guest
geeeg

I tried to put up an HTML image but the guess its not working. Could we exchange pictures? I just bought mine and I am redoing the inside . I’m interested in how your bed set up is. I like mine but I wish it was a little bit bigger for more space to fit my bf and our dog. We just installed a wood stove and have been using it every night. My email is geeeg29@gmail.com I’d love to talk. I’m located in Homer Alaska.

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