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Old 11-10-2009, 02:15 PM   #1
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I Need Advice on a 1970's Class C

Hey, all!

I was hoping to get some basic advice on purchasing a 1970's Class C motorhome. The idea is for my girlfriend and I to drive it around 10,000 miles cross country in the spring. I think 20'-22' is about the right size.

My budget is around $4000 to hit the road, all repairs included, and luckily this seems to buy quite a bit of motorhome these days. I have a Class B right now that I've put about 5k miles on solo, but it's just too small for 2 people.

Here's what I need to know:

Who made the best chassis in that time frame, say 1974-1980? Who made the best coach?

I know that I shouldn't buy anything that has leaks or water damage. Are there any other major deal breakers?

What was the top of the line during this era? Who was making "luxury" coaches that might be affordable now?

Should I look to spend 2000k on the rig and 2000k on repairs, or 3000k/1000k? Is buying a "fixer-upper" in my interest in the long term?

I'm really liking the looks of the 1974-1978 Minnie Winnies, are there any know problems with this coach?

And if you could choose out of any production line and model from that era to be your first Class C, what would it be?

Thanks so much!

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Old 11-10-2009, 07:17 PM   #2
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The chassis you see are Ford F350 and the Chevy 3500. The 350 CID or 5.7L may be a bit under powered. The 454 or 460 CID engines are a better choice. The problem with them are craking exhaust manifolds.

The age you are looking at, you need to inspect closely for water leaks and damage. Check the date code on the tires and it they are over 5 years old, plan on new tires.

Also expect to a new frig if it does not have one...$1000.00 here.


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Old 11-10-2009, 07:48 PM   #3
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Figure that pretty much ANYTHING in an RV that old WILL BE a "fixer-upper" - the trick is locating one where the repairs and replacements will fit your budget. New tires alone will put out over $1000...

After checking out all the engine and drivetrain, if at all possible, try for NO evidence of water leaks - even what appear to be small ones can easily destroy much of the underlying structure. Make sure the fridge and heater/A/C works, and the bathroom/shower are something you and yours will feel comfortable using - after all that, it's nickle and dime stuff - and even THAT adds up fast!
John Day....|'88 Winnebago Super Chief 27ft. Class A
Eastern .....|'88 KIT model 240 24 ft. 5er
Oregon ......|'02 Dodge/Cummins 2500 Quad Cab
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Old 11-10-2009, 08:40 PM   #4
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In the year models you are talking about, Dodge was the chassis of choice. with either 360 or 440 v8's and bullet proof trans. Lazy Daze was my favorite, but I could only afford a Jamboree. What a water leakier. And a mountain goat as well.

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Old 11-11-2009, 02:32 PM   #5
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Man, those Lazy Daze look pretty sweet! I was messing around online and found several in my price range. Not a fan of that rear lounge, though.

It looks like the chassis on those is Chevy and Dodge, is one better than another? Is the Chevy 350 enough for a 19'-22', no towing? Do the older Lazy Daze show any consistent issues I should look for?

And on the other end of the scale, what brands should I stay away from? I've heard Fleetwood is kinda cheap, but what about the other Dodges of the era? I'm seeing a lot of Tioga, Shasta, Monaco, Fireball, and a ton of kind of generic "Sportsman".

What should I definitely NOT buy?
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Old 11-11-2009, 02:40 PM   #6
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It's strictly a personal thing in most cases - but I'd choose a GM chassis over a Dodge or Ford any day - FAR more availability and selection of standard and aftermarket parts, at reasonable prices.
John Day....|'88 Winnebago Super Chief 27ft. Class A
Eastern .....|'88 KIT model 240 24 ft. 5er
Oregon ......|'02 Dodge/Cummins 2500 Quad Cab
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Old 11-16-2009, 08:23 PM   #7
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The 360 engine and 440 engine was the same as the pickups of that year, all you had to do was pick similar year 1-ton or 3/4 truck to find replacement engine parts. Half tempted to find one of those old motorhomes just for the 440 block, sadly couldn't use the transmission as it needs to be able to attach to a transfer case.

Also, want to canabalize the old dana 70 dually rear ends.
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Old 11-17-2009, 07:57 PM   #8
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We bought our 1977 Class C for $1500. Its on a GMC Vandura G3500 chassis. We put less than $1000 in it. Do not get an "all-in-one" bathroom. Get a seperate shower/toilet bathroom. Wet floors... not good for the person using the toilet after someone else takes a shower. Watch the roof (leaks make wood frames rot) and anywhere water enters (city water inlet, water heater, windows, bin doors). My cab's windshield leaked as well due to rust. I didn't want to get a replacement so I simply caulked the windows by applying elastometric caulk under the rubber seal of the windshield. If you get a class C with a front window in the cabover, most likely it either leaks now or has in the past. We rebuilt our Class C from the inside. Only thing I would do different is replace more of the framing (soft rather than actually rotted) and reskin the ceiling in full span luan rather than replace a few pieces. Extra crap on the roof is a potential for leaks. The aftermarket(?) luggage rack and rear ladder missed ALL the wood braces in the frame. It all leaked at some point (we removed it all and repaired but did not replace the junk). We also had found a leak that was made by the manufacturer (they ran a screw thru the face frame of a cabinet to attach it... right thru the roof). The whole rear ceiling was pulled apart then partially replaced due to water damage.

Our background is in construction/remodeling/kitchen design/cabinet making. It was easy for us.

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