Welcome back to Parts Bin Puzzle, the Autopian challenge where we give you a vehicle and you figure out where its bits came from! In this entry, we’re back in the RV space. This time, we’re taking a look at a motorhome that perhaps millions of people have seen on movie and television screens since 2006. We’re talking about the Robin Williams flick, RV! In this modern interpretation of the classic American road trip comedy genre, Williams commands a coach from a popular brand, can you guess it?
Last week, I handed Parts Bin Puzzle to our lovely daydreaming designer, the Bishop. In his entry, the Bishop took beautiful AMCs and pulled from the parts bins of other automakers to prepare them for export to France. In doing so, he created some wild alternate reality vehicles. His Matador sedan borrowed from the European Ford Granada, the Matador coupe borrowed from the Citroën Ami 6, and the Gremlin borrowed from the Vauxhall Cavalier. The Bishop didn’t reveal the answers to my last Parts Bin Puzzle, so I’ll reveal them here, as well. When I last wrote a Parts Bin Puzzle, the subject was the Invicta S1, a parts bin supercar with the name of a twice-dead famed brand. The taillights of the Invicta S1 came from a B5.5 Volkswagen Passat sedan, while the vents were used in a lot of Alfa Romeos.
Later today, I’ll be leaving the warm, sun-drenched city of Los Angeles to get back to my salty and cold Illinois. For a brief moment, I forgot that it’s late in November and thus winter back east. But, it’s time to get back home. Today’s flight doesn’t have me aboard a big boy Boeing 777, but a familiar aircraft for me, an Airbus A320. For my trip home, I’ve downloaded a classic American road trip comedy movie and a modern interpretation of the genre. One is 1983 film National Lampoon’s Vacation and the other is 2006 film RV.
Now, I’ll be the first to say that RV is certainly not a high watermark for the late Robin Williams’ career. The movie is predictable, the gags sometimes seem forced, and the laughs are more “sensible chuckle” than rolling on the floor crying laughing. For its flaws, the movie probably does deserve its low scores with critics and viewers. But I find that RVers do seem to love this movie, and it’s in-part because the gags are sort of relatable.
Any RVer can relate to the horrors of tank dumping gone wrong, or meeting up with other RVers that are practically the exact opposite of you. Robin Williams’ character, Bob Munro, is an exaggeration of probably so many first-time RVers.
Then there are the RVs themselves. I’m going to have you guess the vehicular star of the show, but first, I really want to point out the vehicular supporting role that’s even cooler than the star vehicle. In the movie, the Munro family meets the Gornicke family, and the Gornickes drive one epic bus. The bus, named “Happy Max” in the movie, is a 1948 Flxible Clipper that was restored and modified for the movie.
I’ve written about Flxibles and the Clipper a few times, but I’ll give you a short recap of what these are. This Clipper started life as a passenger coach bus. Back in the era in which it was built, these were seen on bus lines like Greyhound and Trailways. For the movie, the bus was stripped of its former life and converted into a vintage RV. According to the Spokesman-Review news, the production crew also purchased and restored a second Clipper for stunt use.
The vehicular star of the show is something far more modern. For what will be your only clue, this Class A RV came from Forest River. While just two of the Flxible Clippers were purchased, a whole six of these Forest Rivers were needed to bring this film to life. But these RVs weren’t as you’d get them off of the factory floor. The Spokesman-Review notes that the RVs underwent pretty extensive overhauls. Their interiors were stripped and replaced with components of different colors, different cabinets, larger windows, and more.
And there was more, from the Spokesman-Review:
Director Barry Sonnenfeld wanted the Munros to have the “most garish RV that you’ve ever seen,” according to press material provided by Columbia Pictures.
That was accomplished with the help of an outlandish bright lime green paint job with “RENT ME” inscribed on the side in the 5-foot high neon orange letters.
Of the six original [RVs], two are seen in the film; two others were fitted with special suspension hydraulics to tackle some of the extreme driving moments. A fifth RV, dubbed “Wild Thing,” was fully functional with entire sections that were “wild” and could be removed so interior scenes could be filmed.
The sixth [RV] came from the factory in pieces. The special effects department built the frame to allow hydraulic rams to raise and lower the RV once it was placed into a lake in one scene.
Despite the unfavorable reviews of the movie, it was a hit with RV dealerships. One dealership quoted in the Spokesman-Review piece said that the dealership’s phones were ringing off of the hook because of the movie. And the Forest River used in the movie wasn’t too expensive, either. At $95,925, or $144,159 in today’s money, it’s on the lower end that I’ve seen for a 35-foot Class A. And perhaps for your final hint, power comes from a 6.8-liter Ford Triton V10 making 362 HP and 457 lb-ft torque.
So, with all of this in mind, what Forest River model is the RV from the movie RV?
And as a bonus, where did these headlights come from?
When you’re finished with your guesses, click here to check out the result.
Road trip comedies utilizing RVs are still a thing today. One notable example is 2013 film We’re The Millers. This one is more of an adult movie, but it has some interesting similarities. Comical mishaps involving the RV are there, as are silly gags with the characters themselves. Even the second RV filled with opposite characters is present. Development on We’re The Millers actually began before RV, but reached the silver screen far later.
Do you have any favorite RV-based comedy films? What do you watch on a plane? I’d love to know!
I just watched this movie over the weekend. Robin Williams is honestly the only reason I bothered….it would have been awful with anyone else in the lead role.
For every “RV”, there’s a “One Hour Photo”, which I think was Williams’s best serious role.
Looks like a Fleetwood Bounder on a Ford chassis
“For its flaws, the movie probably does deserve its low scores with critics and viewers. But I find that RVers do seem to love this movie, and it’s in-part because the gags are sort of relatable.”
It’s like if someone made a movie called “The Autopian”. Most people would not understand why the line “Dictated and sent in my absence” was so hilarious, but the people who do would love it.
To a non-RVer the tank dumping scene is just literal potty humor, to an RVer it resonates deep down in their soul. That makes a huge difference in how you feel about the movie.
I know what the headlights are because in 2006, we were looking at the Forest River Georgetowns before going Coachmen (parents’ first so it was a BFD even to a 10 year old)
My one IRL camper van experience was uneventful (thanks to going with just a van, full RV is too big for me) but the vehicle itself was possibly even more garish than the one in the movie. On the other hand, when every other rental RV on the road was painted the same, it just blends in.
I admit I haven’t seen the whole movie, but I’ve watched the emptying the tank scene dozens of times. Everyone showing up to help out is hilarious.
As far as the lights: I never even notice headlights or taillights on RVs until they are pointed out, and then I realize how strange they are. These make the RV look like it has an overbite
I just know that I fell in love with Cheryl Hines when she sang along to “Little GTO.”
I feel in love with her on season 1 of Curb, she was such a great foil to Larry and his BS
“What kind of RV is this?”
The classic favorite RV movie is, of course, “The Long, Long, Trailer”
And a great little classic RV cartoon comedy is “Mickey’s Trailer” from 1938.
That one his hilarious, few people could do bewildered, frustrated resignation as well as Desi Arnaz
A classic. “Red light, green light, TRAILER BRAKES!!!”
The Simpsons episode about the RV is a classic as well.
dunno about RVs – but those are definitely 11th gen F150 lights.
Those headlights are so distinctive in the head-on shot.
It’s a Bounder, and if I’m not mistaken those headlights are from an F-150.
While not an RV movie I’d say my favorite RV moment is Randy Quaid’s “Shitters Full” line. I have it on a t-shirt that I enjoy wearing while emptying my black water tank.