While the 1960’s saw the rise of the commercial motorhome, there’s a strong case to be made that the most prolific decade of production was the 1970’s. Despite the impact of the energy crisis, manufacturing of all types of RVs proliferated, including quite a few (awkward pause…) interesting experiments. The decade saw plenty of outright weirdness, especially from the “homebuilt” category. (See the Beetle Minihome covered in the first installment of this feature.) But there was no shortage of improbable offerings from commercial manufacturing, and I nominate the following as quite possibly the most truly and awesomely post-apocalyptic specimen of the prolific decade:
This is the 1975 Champion Woodsman, first brought to my attention by dodgetravcos.com, the immediate source for the image above. 21 feet long and built on a Dodge chassis, the Woodsman was notable for having four-wheel-drive, probably the only commercial RV ever to have that capability as a “standard” feature. It is also distinctive for a tapered shape, most visible in the pyramidal superstructure, consistent with a “tumblehome” style of design which author Douglas Keister has compared to Darth Vader. Woodsman was either a product or distinct division of Champion Home Builders, a minor but reasonably successful RV manufacturer. According to Keister’s book Mobile Mansions, Champion continued to build motorhomes until at least 1985, by which point the RV market had experienced a severe contraction, not improbably in large part because motorhomes simply did not suit the fashions of the emerging “yuppie” generation. The site Offroad Action has several posts with additional information about the Woodsman, including photos of another specimen with an external rack for fishing rods that looks equally suitable for keeping your guns at ready to fight off raiders, zombies and prehistoric monsters. Clearly, if one is in the market for an RV expressly for the purpose of surviving an apocalyptic disaster, you can’t do much better than this!