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The road’s the limit when it comes to motorhomes

Campers customize their road-trip vehicles

By Kevin Hanson

khanson@postbulletin.com

Bob Mesarchik, of Rochester, said he bought his classic 1970s GMC motorhome "because of the appreciation, not the depreciation."

Owners from five states toured each other’s vehicles, peered under the hoods and socialized AutumnWoods RV Park near Rochester International Airport for their third rally this year.

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Most couldn’t stop talking about their GMC motorhomes.

Just 12,500 of the innovative motorhomes were built between 1972 and 1978, according to Mesarchik, wagonmaster of Greater Midwest Classics, a chapter of the Family Motorcoach Association. About 10,000 of the vehicles are still on the road, he said. Ninety families in the chapter own at least one GMC each. One man owns five, he said.

Though organization members might seem obsessed with their vehicles, Mesarchik said with high gas prices, the future of the group is "uncharted territory." The vehicles get 8-10 miles per gallon.

Elmer Tinti, of Delafield, Wis., bought his first GMC in 1976. "We had a family and needed more living space when we went to visit our family in northern Michigan." He sold the vehicle four years later for the same price he paid for it.

Bob and Yvonne Miller of White Bear Lake completely refurbished their front-wheel-drive GMC. "We tore it all apart and went through it front to back," said Miller, president of Greater Midwest Classics. They installed new countertops, electric wiring, plumbing and a larger engine.

While the men focus on the mechanics, "It’s the women who want to have their coach made over," said Yvonne. The men exchanged tips at a technology session Saturday morning, while the women attended a crafts session.

With its air suspension, the Millers said the vehicle drives like a car and handles well in strong crosswinds, thanks to its low profile. It’s small enough, they said, that it can park where other motorhomes can’t, including at campgrounds at state parks.

One man at this weekend’s rally had turned the rear wall of his vehicle into a door so he can drive his Mini Cooper automobile inside.

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What attracts people to the motorhomes? "When I travel," said Yvonne Miller , "I like to have my home with me — like a turtle."

For more information and to see a video, go to Postbulletin.com/weblinks.

Greater Midwest Classics http://www.gmcmidwestclassics.org/

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