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?
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.