Home » Enough Searching! The Motorhome For The Autopian Staff Is Right Under Their Noses

Enough Searching! The Motorhome For The Autopian Staff Is Right Under Their Noses

Ta Camper Ts
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There’s that Texas phrase where they say that someone is “big hat, no cattle”; they talk a good game but the fact is they don’t have the goods to back it up. Sadly, it seems like the Autopian staff might be described in a similar way if put it in the context of motorhomes. Our site is well-known for our coverage and expertise on motorized campers but an official, physical Autopian motorhome simply doesn’t yet exist. Believe me, we’ve been looking, and it’s getting tiresome to see the constant parade of weird and wonderful Craigslist and Facebook marketplace examples such as the famous GMC front wheel drive home or even the Corvair powered Ultravans, all of which seem to sell before we can make up our minds or even get out to see the damn things.

Cool Campers
General Motors, VanLife Trader

The unfortunate fact is many of these machines on offer are in need of more than a few things, and with almost any of these we’re talking at least a $20,000 investment to get anything even remotely close to a workable solution (which wouldn’t be an issue if every one of you reading this site would get a membership or upgrade your entry-level status to something more substantial, but don’t feel guilty). Many of the unique motorhomes we dig (like that pictured Ultravan, listed at $38,000) can rival the cost of a new motorhome when fully finished and roadworthy. In terms of fixing up sad examples, we can say that we’ll “do it ourselves” but pumping out a post every hour takes time, and after work we want to chill our families (just kidding, we want to wrench on our OWN personal rides). We might need another solution.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Often, the answer to something is right under your nose and you don’t realize it; that might be the case here. No, I’m not referring to the Nova Bus RTS that Mercedes Streeter owns and, for whatever reason, doesn’t want to donate to the cause. That’s cool, but it would be a whole lot cooler if she did, since we had a pretty dope ass concept for tricking this thing out as the ultimate Autopian tour bus complete with neon undercarriage lights and a PA system.

Side Clubhouse 1c988e14 5056 A36a 079dcff6fedf57b5 1536x887
NovaBus

Img20220913 22405600 1536x1337

Img20220913 22423031

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There is, however, already a motorhome in the collective Autopian fleet you might have forgetton, or don’t even know about. If you’re a Jason Torchinsky superfan, you might remember that long ago he bought a 1977 Tioga motorhome in Los Angeles while working at a different car website. The purpose of this purchase was apparently to provide comfortable transport for the family from the land of In-N-Out burger across the country to their new home where they give you vinegar-covered barbecue and fried, doughy round things called “hush puppies” (it’s actually good stuff).

The Tioga is a classic “Class C” motorhome, a style of camper that really hasn’t changed much in the ensuing decades. The formula for a “Class C” is a cargo van chassis (in this case a Dodge Tradesman) with the body chopped off aft the front doors and a bespoke cabin stuck onto the frame behind. Jason’s is quite similar if a few years later than the example on the brochure below:

Camper1
Tioga via Ebay

 

If I were to say “1977 motorhome interior,” what picture would appear in your mind? I already know; take a look at that Harvest Gold goodness below:

Camper12
Tioga via ebay

 

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Jason’s example completed the nearly coast-to-coast trip, but then like the Bluesmobile (also Chrysler 440 V8 powered) it simply collapsed when its job was done. Jason’s rather scientific explanation about what transpired was that “it just cut out on the road one day.”  His solution was to have it towed back to his house, where it has been parked as a guest cottage likely since the Obama administration.

He thinks it “might be a timing chain or something” but it’s rather clear that he just doesn’t know, and the lawn furniture and ivy surrounding it says he’s in no hurry to find out. Still, there was reportedly no giant bang or smoking connecting rods on the ground when it “failed to proceed” as the British say so one would assume that getting an old Mopar up and running again would be a rather simple, or at least it wouldn’t be like getting a long-dormant nuclear sub running or- worse than that- starting up a VW Phaeton or E32 750il. Now, things like brakes and power steering really benefit from sitting outside for a decade, so once the engine is fired up it’s likely that this Dodge motorhome will stop and steer like a 911GT3 immediately. Right. Anyway, here is sits:

Tioga (1)
Jason Torchinsky

 

Having never been in a snow-and-salt environment the Tioga still looks remarkably clean, the dangling rubber trim channel being the only out-of-sorts thing visible on it. Jason did say that extensive work was done on the plumbing system since apparently bears shit in the woods but automotive writers do not. Paint and chrome appear to be in great condition, and with a power washer, buffer wheel, and interior scrubbing (mold remediation?) it would likely clean up a treat. Mechanically, I’m sure a camper service center would charge thousands to get it going again, but a little elbow grease from somebody who knows what they’re doing would likely get it going in short order (incidentally, a person named S.W. Gossin lives in the same state as Jason, and this motorhome looks like a Pebble Beach winner next to some of the hopeless stuff he’s rescued…just sayin’).

Why has the Autopian staff ignored this thing? Maybe it’s just too “normal”? That’s fair to say, but it’s a not-too-big-not-too-small size, easy to work on, and would have lots of power (440 V8!) if it ran. Do the Autopian staff really want to try to drive through the mountains in an air-cooled underpowered camper that looks like a big bean? What if the Toronado drivetrain gives out on your just-refurbished-$40,000-investment GMC Motorhome in the middle of nowhere?

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I do wonder if a stock, vintage home might be a good look with some simple graphics. I mean, it is a classic design with period graphics, in brown naturally:

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Musick Auction

 

Yeah, I know that’s a non-starter. You guys want more, something outrageous and unexpected, and I’ll give it to you for a minimal investment.

Vinyl wrapping (combined with those one-way graphics on the windows you see on buses) can give us pretty much whatever we want on the seemingly acres of canvas the Tioga gives us. We need some inspiration, and as a GenXer I have to use appropriate cultural touchstones from my formative years. For example, we’ll start with a Stephen J. Cannell classic:

In 2022, a crack team of writers escaped the New York interwebs to the Los Angeles interwebs and started a new site. Today, they survive as champions of the underdog car. If you have a car subject nobody else cares about, and if you can find them, maybe you can contribute to… “

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1977 Dodge Tioga Motor Home Rv 33416641 B
Easy Auto Sales

 

The beauty of the pre-1979 Dodge van is the flat, rectangular grille that could fit other noses rather easily, such as a 1971 Charger front end with covered lights.

Screenshot (1161)
Bring A Trailer

We could even add matching ’71 Charger bumper and taillights in back. Note also the electric dumb waiter- do you really expect us lazy asses to lift lawn chairs, beer and burgers to our rooftop deck? Of course not. As George Peppard said, I love it when a plan comes together.

Img20231010 21162676

What about another favorite from Magnum P.I.? No, not the 308GTSi, lovely as it is, but T.C.’s “Island Hoppers” 1980 VW Vanagon paint scheme? I think a Type 3 van grille would work.

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1977 Dodge Tioga Motor Home Rv 33416641 3a
Internet Car Movie Database screenshot

Lastly, let’s represent the Golden Era of sports car racing with the Gulf livery on our Tioga. As luck would have it, the famous made-for-NASCAR-homologation nose of a 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona is about the same width as the van, and there’s one for sale on ebay right now. I mean, that would have to improve gas mileage by a good twenty percent or so, too, right? I’ve also added a makeshift spoiler below to direct airflow up to the slot below the nose for cooling, and recesses for driving lights.

1977 Dodge Tioga Motor Home Rv 33416641 2
Hillbank

 

We can work with the inside later, with options ranging from just cleaning up or reupholstering seats all the way up to making some of the ideas for the RTS bus like VW Beetle taillight chandeliers a reality (Jason CAN weld, you know).  Up front, I can see maybe adding digital gauges or a touch screen infotainment system with Carplay to bring up Jason’s navigation directions or favorite tunes from William Shatner’s The Transformed Man album. With an initial purchase price of zero dollars, that will leave a lot of money for modifications.

[Editor’s Note: The problem is that the RV is on the wrong coast, and 2500 miles divided by 9 MPG times $3.50 a gallon is… actually, that’s only a grand. Maybe this IS the move?! -DT]. 

So what’s the verdict? Does the endless search continue, trying to get what we think we want instead of wanting what we already have? Please, dear readers, tell us what you think!

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Relatedbar

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The Daydreaming Designer Shows How To Make A Budget Tiny House From A Broken RV – The Autopian

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Dar Khorse
Dar Khorse
3 months ago

We need a poll! The A(utopian) Team wrap is just too perfect. That’s gotta be the one. And the DT/SWG odd couple angle is guaranteed clicks. Put it up as a series of videos on Instagram and Youtube and watch that click-counter start smokin’!

Stephen Walter Gossin
Stephen Walter Gossin
3 months ago
Reply to  Dar Khorse

Torch’s place is about 2.5 hrs down the road in a $220 Stratus with a trunk full of tools and brews.

Game on!

Harvey Park
Harvey Park
3 months ago

Do it. I’ll send y’all beer.

JurassicComanche25
JurassicComanche25
3 months ago

It’s got a cop motor, a four hundred and forty cubic inch plant. It’s got crap tires, crap suspensions, crap shocks. It’s a model made before compression was a thing again, so it’ll maybe run at all on regular gas. What do you say? Is it the new Autopomobile?

Last edited 3 months ago by JurassicComanche25
A. Barth
A. Barth
3 months ago

Fix the posh candle lighter.

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
3 months ago

The Capt. Kirk reference. Thank you. I swear just heard my wife laugh and almost pee her angel outfit at that. Whatever galaxy she may be in at the moment better have some wet wipes. Holy shit, who told that dude he could sing?

Re: motorhome/party van. Simple and cheap wins this contest.
The concepts all look great! And Torch’s piece of shit should be preserved or upgraded for sure, despite his lazy ass and inattention.
I wonder how much that thing leaks and smells by now though.Not to mention what structural integrity may be left.
And feeble minded idea here. Get it running well. Then perhaps do something with readers (qualified or willing to learn) to redo the rest of it. That shell can be gutted easily and be made strong by the use of lightweight steel or aluminum stud work. Once it’s roadworthy you could either travel it across the US and have meet ups or let folks come to where it is to contribute effort and labor.

I would like to see the primary wrap to incorporate rainbow colors to remind and encourage us all to be tolerant and kinder to what we may not really understand. Not just alternative lifestyles, but all people.And since you freaks are all nuts, put the Peanuts Gang on as well. Torch is Charlie Brown, DT is Pig Pen, etc….

Unfortunately have no money or I’d have joined this site on day one.
But am happy to work for free and have 50 years experience with these things.
And am certain there are others that would like to be involved in this effort.

Last edited 3 months ago by Col Lingus
Harvey Park
Harvey Park
3 months ago
Reply to  Col Lingus

> I swear just heard my wife laugh and almost pee her angel outfit at that. Whatever galaxy she may be in at the moment better have some wet wipes.

That was a roller coaster. First I thought it was an early Halloween costume and then…

Sorry for your loss. That was an oddly beautiful remembrance.

Last edited 3 months ago by Harvey Park
Col Lingus
Col Lingus
3 months ago
Reply to  Harvey Park

I thank you friend. She was and will always be my angel, and 40 years was not enough time with her.
The first time she saw Shatner sing on TV she said “I think a little pee came out”, after she stopped laughing her ass off.
Wish you peace. And a good one!

Last edited 3 months ago by Col Lingus
Harvey Park
Harvey Park
3 months ago
Reply to  Col Lingus

Same to you, sounds like a fun lady.

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
3 months ago

Where’s the buttons for voting? I’m torn between the A-Team and Island Hoppers.

LTDScott
LTDScott
3 months ago

“I ain’t gettin’ on no motorhome!”

10001010
10001010
3 months ago

I approve of this, all of this.

A. Barth
A. Barth
3 months ago

FWIW I’ve only heard the saying as “all hat, no cattle”, but I’m not from Texas and could be wrong.

A crate 440 swap would be interesting: you would have a fresh engine (one suitable for 2023 gezzoline) and would definitely get some content out of it. Get a shop to rebuild the 727 – or you guys do it yourselves – and make sure the diff is good to go. If it’s not a Sure-Grip (i.e. LSD) you can make it so. 🙂

I like the Gulf livery, minus the nose mod. The RV is already white-ish, so a Martini livery could work, too.

On the interior, you’ll probably want one of those ozone-generating dealies that car detailers use to remove da funk.

This is going to be fun!! For us, I mean. For the staff I’m assuming this will be a swell example of “blog the misery”. 😉

LTDScott
LTDScott
3 months ago
Reply to  A. Barth

Same, that’s how I’ve alway heard the phrase.

CatMan
CatMan
3 months ago
Reply to  A. Barth

Yep, All Hat, No Cattle and I vote A-Team theme

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
3 months ago
Reply to  A. Barth

Seventh generation Texan, here. Yes, “all hat, no cattle.” Also, maybe more universal is “all sizzle, no steak.”

Rollin Hand
Rollin Hand
3 months ago

Ok, a Mopar camper, but no Richard Petty theme? Or General Lee (sans flag)?

Aside from that, not going with the A-Team van would be howling mad.

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
3 months ago
Reply to  Rollin Hand

While it does cross makes, I vote for Starsky and Hutch livery. Slap a Gran Torino nose on that Dodge cab!

Of course, if you really want to stand out, Dekotora is the only option.

Drew
Drew
3 months ago

The A-Team works a little too well. I don’t want to like that one best, but it does actually work best.

I think the Island Hoppers paint scheme deserves to be seen more, and the gulf racing is a good paint scheme for things, but the A-Team is the proper choice for this project, if y’all were to do this.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
3 months ago

I love the Magnum one, esp b/c fun fact – that paint scheme on T.C.’s helicopter was available off the shelf from Hughes! T.C. just had his van painted to match.

Paul B
Paul B
3 months ago

Start looking around for owner-operator truckers that have to dead head back west with a flatbed or, ideally, a lowboy trailer. A good deal can often be made.

As for the design:

https://m.media-amazon.com/images/S/pv-target-images/49966a5dba47688a27eedac3c1cc540a63537e6c50a71043309c5f0ddf7169a7.png

Rollin Hand
Rollin Hand
3 months ago
Reply to  Paul B

Well, if they don’t find it handsome, they should at least find it handy.

Paul B
Paul B
3 months ago
Reply to  The Bishop

Oops, missed that. Please let Jason know that the leaf battery will not take kindly to his Changli battery extraction method.

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
3 months ago

I PITY DA FOOL WHO DOESN’T CHOOSE THE A-TEAM THEME!!!

Rollin Hand
Rollin Hand
3 months ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

Torchinsky starts with T. It’s kismet.

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
3 months ago
Reply to  Rollin Hand

Okay, here we go. Torch is CLEARLY Mr T.

Howlin’ Mad Murdoch? He’s the pilot, so clearly Mercedes.

Faceman? Tough call, but I’m going with the handsome visage of SWG.

Hannibal Smith? Gotta be DT. Or maybe Beau?

Thoughts?

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
3 months ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

There’s an episode where they (somewhat improbably but b/c the ’80s) guard Boy George, so Uncle Adrian is covered maybe.

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
3 months ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

YOU… are a bad person.

I like you. You can sit next to me.

Rollin Hand
Rollin Hand
3 months ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

I totally see DT in the H.M. Murdoch wardrobe.

And I see Beau as Hannibal.

After B.A. Torchinscas, it’s all up for grabs.

Frank Wrench
Frank Wrench
3 months ago

After buying the $2000 Leaf, just when I think the Autopian couldn’t possibly be any dumber, they go and do something like this… and totally redeem themselves!

A. Barth
A. Barth
3 months ago
Reply to  Frank Wrench

You bought the Mutts Cutts van, didn’t you? 😉

Frank Wrench
Frank Wrench
3 months ago
Reply to  A. Barth

LOL! Um, er, I’ll just say I recently traded for a sweet new ride. I can get 70 miles to the gallon on this hog.

Outofstep
Outofstep
3 months ago

A-team livery! Maybe add a Superbird spoiler though.

T Mill
T Mill
3 months ago

The Daytona nose grafted on the Gulf livery option just screams a “Petty Blue” livery with a drop-shadowed Autopian “A” on the side.

Lardo
Lardo
3 months ago

I was gonna buy it but I’ll let you guys have it.
https://forum.expeditionportal.com/threads/1997-ford-chinook-diesel-4×4-49-500.241348/
Factory 4×4 7.3 Diesel Ca.smog exempt. The Chinook, the SportsCar of RV’s

Óscar Morales Vivó
Óscar Morales Vivó
3 months ago

Can’t help but love the overdetailed lighting solutions and would expect them to be spun off to their own product line.

Mercedes Streeter
Mercedes Streeter
3 months ago

Wait wait, that thing would get 9 mpg if it ran? My bus does like 8 mpg on a good day and the cost of diesel…let’s just not talk about that.

ADDvanced
ADDvanced
3 months ago

Anything but the A-team one. Seeing that livery on a mopar instead of a chevy is just…. weird. It doesn’t work.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
3 months ago

I say go for it, but this begs for a Deora treatment to the cab.

Mike B
Mike B
3 months ago

Haha, definitely the A-Team one. The Gulf one is cool too, but as an 80’s kid I gotta go with BA’s van. Even in New England, those GM based motorhomes are fairly common, I’d imagine there’s TONS of decent ones in SoCal.

Also, I love that “Big hat, no cattle” phrase. First time I heard it was in reference to the Uvalde PD.

Mike Harrell
Mike Harrell
3 months ago

Are you sure you wouldn’t rather have something a little more Astro-based?

https://portland.craigslist.org/clk/rvs/d/battle-ground-astro-allegro-21ft-class/7680056006.html

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
3 months ago
Reply to  Mike Harrell

Careful saying “Astro-based” to Matt. He’ll take it in a totally different direction.’

Andrew Wyman
Andrew Wyman
3 months ago
Reply to  Mike Harrell

That’s not a bad option. Plus ya’ll have someone already here in Portland who can pick it up.

Last edited 3 months ago by Andrew Wyman
Frankencamry
Frankencamry
3 months ago

That A-team homage is one of the finer things to grace these pages in a bit.

The nose on the gulf livery was not, but it was evocative of a chuckle/snort combination.

Mark Tucker
Mark Tucker
3 months ago

You know, one of us DOES print vinyl truck wraps for a living…

Tap-n-Die And Some WD-40
Tap-n-Die And Some WD-40
3 months ago

Yes, use Torch’s RV, but with the following modifications:

  • Amber rear turn signals (obviously)
  • Changli wrap
Tap-n-Die And Some WD-40
Tap-n-Die And Some WD-40
3 months ago

Also David and SWG must live in it while they restore it.

David Tracy
David Tracy
3 months ago

We’re Going To Live In This Dilapidated RV Until We Can Fix It

…would click.

Spartanjohn113
Spartanjohn113
3 months ago
Reply to  David Tracy

I’m also a fan of “My Jeep Cats Are Not Happy About Their New RV Digs And They’re Finding New Ways To Express Their Displeasure”.

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
3 months ago
Reply to  Spartanjohn113

I LOL’d at essentially this entire post, but this is the best part. Thanks Spartanjohn113!

Spartanjohn113
Spartanjohn113
3 months ago
Reply to  MATTinMKE

Cats are very top of mind right now. A) I need an update on the Jaws, Mango, Nutmeg, and Rusty. They’re adorable and I hope they’re doing okay. Especially Rusty since he had a blood parasite.

B) I moved in with my girlfriend two weeks ago and it has been a process trying to get her cat, Merlin (a four-year-old Maine Coon-Tabby mix), and my boy, Turtle (a nine-year-old tabby who’s a bit of a grump to everyone but me), to get along.

The first week was just keeping Turtle in the apartment’s second bedroom/office, administering amitriptyline, and using a cat pheromone diffuser. I also broke out the old baby gates from college (when I had a foster dog) to create Catca-traz so the two could see each other on either side of the fence.

On Monday, both seemed calm enough to be in the open together and so far, so good. Turtle only threw a mini-fit early this morning and a few hours later, they were back to touching noses and sniffing butts. I still keep them separate during the day, but I think we’re making progress!

Harvey Park
Harvey Park
3 months ago
Reply to  Spartanjohn113

They’re humoring you with the gate. They can absolutely go through. But you know that already 😀

Last edited 3 months ago by Harvey Park
Spartanjohn113
Spartanjohn113
3 months ago
Reply to  Harvey Park

Turtle used to occasionally squeeze through it in his college years. Back then, the gate was more used to give the cat space away from the dog when he wanted it. And funny enough, the baby gate was taken down on Thursday because they’re cohabitating just fine.

Mike
Mike
3 months ago

This would be a TV show. Part Iron Resurrection, part Pimp my Ride, part the Odd Couple!

Harvey Park
Harvey Park
3 months ago
Reply to  Mike

Part To Catch a Predator, part Family Feud

Rollin Hand
Rollin Hand
3 months ago

SWG: Ok, I let you have the top bunk and first shower. NOW can I do a Jag article?

DT: NO!

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
3 months ago
Reply to  Rollin Hand

Glad I wasn’t taking a drink when I read this comment: I would be cleaning ice coffee off the dash if I had been
Well done, that.

OrigamiSensei
OrigamiSensei
3 months ago
Reply to  Rollin Hand

Pleeeeeeeeease, let SWG do a Jag article! (gotta support my fellow Jag owners here)

Harvey Park
Harvey Park
3 months ago

Changli needs to pony up and cover the restoration costs given how much publicity they’ve received from JT.

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