The GMC Motor home was an American recreational vehicle, produced from 1976 to 1986. The motor home was designed to be a multi-purpose vehicle, and was marketed as such. The name, TVS-4, stands for Travel Vehicle Streamlined. The new design concept led to some catchy slogans, such as: “it doesn’t ride like a truck, it looks like a box,” and “getting there is as much fun as being there.” Throughout its production life, GMC Motor Homes were spacious and comfortable, and many of them had amenities found only on upscale brands.
The GM Motor Home’s development was led by Martin J. Caserio, a GM VP and the General Manager of GMC Truck and Coach. Many talented engineers contributed to the development of the motor home. On February 7, 1972, the GM executive announced that the company had begun building motor homes. The company was determined to play a major role in the motor home industry, and the GMC Motor Home was born.
The design of the GMC Motorhome was influenced by the design of the Sports coach motorhomes of the 1970s. While the fiberglass caps on the roof were similar to those of the Sports coach, the GMC motorhome had straight sides and straight roof and side walls. The company also used the GM logo as a trademark. The GM Motorhome was the first RV designed to feature these design features. The motorhome quickly became a popular model, and continues to attract fans.
The GMC Motor Home was originally available in two lengths: 23 feet and 26 feet. The increase in length was the result of additional interior content. GM Sales identified the 23-foot GMC motor home as its price leader at around $12,000 to sixteen thousand dollars. It was an instant hit in the market, and the GM Motor Home made smaller motor home manufacturers nervous. However, as with all new products, it was not marketed as a luxury RV.
The GMC MotorHome was first showcased in 1973, at Transpo 72, the US International Transportation Exposition in Dulles, VA, near Washington, DC. Its development reflected the times and the high cost of oil. The GMC Motorhome was the first vehicle built on a purpose-built chassis. No other OEM has managed to build a purpose-built RV. All other RVs started life as a truck or van or body-less rolling chassis.
The GMC motorhome has impressive fuel economy and comfort. The manufacturer did an economy test on a 264 mile trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, which included the Baker Grade (peaking at 4,751 feet). The GMC motorhome achieved 10.2 mpg with cruise control. On the return trip, it achieved 11.2 mpg, despite the downhill travel. This is not a bad record for a motorhome.
The quality of interior fittings improved. However, the heavier weight caused the interior furniture to become expensive. The exterior of the GMC MotorHome was updated as well. The new colors, raised “GMC” letters, and Hehr side windows replaced the previously used vinyl decals. The interior modules were now made of polybutelene instead of copper. They also featured more insulation than the previous models. They were also built more sturdy than ever, with new retaining fasteners.