By on February 27, 2017

1967 Chevrolet Motorhome in California wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Back in the 1960s and 1970s, quite a few Midwestern RV manufacturers would take new Chevrolet Step-Vans and build them into motorhomes. Most spent productive decades ferrying retirees between Michigan and Florida, then settled into long-term retirement in driveways and dirt lots, serving as homes for many generations of raccoons, possums, and wasps.

Here’s a Kansas-built P20-series RV in the San Francisco Bay Area, giving up some of its components while awaiting the cold steel jaws of The Crusher.

1967 Chevrolet Motorhome in California wrecking yard, certification - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

I couldn’t find much information online about the RVs made by the Adventure Line Manufacturing Company in Parsons, Kansas, though there is a bit of firearms-forum discussion about the AR-15 magazines made by the company a few years after building this vehicle.

1967 Chevrolet Motorhome in California wrecking yard, urine sample - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

RVs are always the most disgusting vehicles found in the inventory of self-service wrecking yards, invariably packed with hantavirus-saturated rodent detritus and bottles full of crank piss (or worse). I have spent far too much time in junked RVs, ever since I made the stupid decision to heat my garage with a Winnebago propane furnace.

1967 Chevrolet Motorhome in California wrecking yard, steering column - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The engine is gone, but it would have been a pushrod straight-six ranging in displacement from 194 to 292 cubic inches with an output between 120 to 170 horsepower. That’s right, this massive steel box got its motivation from an engine making horsepower very similar to that of a 2017 Corolla (though the 292 did put out 275 lb-ft of torque). Think about that next time you complain about modern econoboxes being underpowered.

1967 Chevrolet Motorhome in California wrecking yard, FOR SALE sign - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

I couldn’t make out the price on this tattered FOR SALE sign, but I’m sure it was nowhere near low enough.

1967 Chevrolet Motorhome in California wrecking yard, brake drum - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Coming down the hill from Donner Summit with these brakes must have been exciting.

1967 Chevrolet Motorhome in California wrecking yard, interior - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Made when men were men and California families vacationed in hoppy, clattery, leaf-sprung delivery vans.

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28 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1967 Chevrolet P20 Adventure Line Motorhome...”


  • avatar
    JimC2

    “Don’t you go falling in love with it now, because, we’re taking it with us when we leave here next month.”

  • avatar
    jhefner

    Our local Home Depot had a very strange looking food truck parked in front it for awhile (it is gone now); I always wondered what it was. I now think it was one of these or something like it.

  • avatar

    That was my thought…looks like a food truck, not a camper. I’m more amazed that whatever it is, the interior was worth it (are there more of these ?) to be picked clean.

  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    I like the subtle Art Deco detail on the AC outlet there. Looks so out of place on something from 1967.

  • avatar
    pwrwrench

    Likely that the beds, tables, cabinets, etc. were removed to make it into a delivery van.
    I have not looked at motorhomes in a while, but in the 70s-90s the class A type used a similar GM chassis. That frame/driveline also was under bread trucks, newspaper trucks, food/taco trucks (were called “garbage trucks” or worse), and laundry service vans. Most had V8s, small or big block. With a TH400 automatic. Older ones, such as pictured here, usually were 4 gear manual with a “granny” low gear.
    Many of the motor homes were rather weak in their construction with a skeleton frame sometimes of steel tubing or wood, with aluminum or fiberglass panels screwed to it.
    If you have ever seen one that has crashed, gone under a low overhead, or caught fire you will know about this.
    Perhaps take that ‘sample’ to a lab for testing. Might contain a cure for cancer or AIDS.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      I had a camperized ’64 Chev Stepvan. It had the bull low 1st gear, so it was like a 3-spd with a top speed of about 55mph. Rock hard suspension. It had a custom body with a fibreglass roof and front end so it didn’t look like this one. The wipers ran off engine vacuum so they didn’t work uphill. Imagine that nowadays. I normally don’t like gender references here, but I must say women liked the thing. After the engine seized up I sold it to a hunter for less than what the tires had cost me.

    • 0 avatar
      HotPotato

      Yep: underneath the Class A rigs of the 80s & early 90s you had either a Chevy P30 for rigs 26-34′ (usually with a tag axle if over 31′), and the P-something-else for rigs 20-24′. Air bag front, leaf spring rear. 454 with carburetor and 3 speed automatic, later replaced by 454 with fuel injection and 4 speed automatic. Big dumb fun. Later Ford came along and upped the ante with the V10, a born motorhome engine.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    This old wreck says: “Up to no good” even more strongly than a white cargo van.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    Those bus sliding side windows were a nice touch.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    This old gal has really has been picked clean.

    I always wonder what was the vehicle “cause of death” in locations where corrosion isn’t the determining factor.

    • 0 avatar
      Ko1

      In this case, it looks like someone’s project that got parked in the back yard for several years but because of the rust holes all around the top of the roof, they decided it would be better to strip it for parts instead.

  • avatar
    whynotaztec

    I think I now know what that strange SWAT van on Hill St. Blues is!

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Anyone want to guess what the rear axle is? I’m thinking Eaton HO52/72, but a Dana 60 is an outside possibility.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    This one had Hydromatic drive so I hope it had a V8 ! .
    .
    Those Bendix brakes weren’t as bad as you might think ~ using the gears to keep the engine braking on steep down grades helped from overheating them .
    .
    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      Ah, but see now, most drivers don’t even know to gear down on long inclines. Most have never heard of “same gear down as going up.” The proof is the sea of red lights as the herd rides their brakes all the way down. You can get away with it a lot more easily nowadays since most modern cars have big brakes… but alas, it’s another case of automotive anti-Darwinism, where technology preserves the idiots.

      • 0 avatar
        brandloyalty

        Most people driving hybrids use the brake pedal to keep speed in check on steeper descents. But except for a little application of the rear mechanical brakes, for stability, all or most of this braking is done with the regen system.

        They could actually get more regen if they geared down though. Despite the higher revs no brakes are applied then. This is why hybrids are now often equipped with adjustable automatic regen braking when you lift off the throttle.

        • 0 avatar
          -Nate

          Just so ! .
          .
          I often smell hot brake linings and gear oil when I’m descending steep Freeway/Highway grades and I wonder why no one ever seems to learn .
          .
          When descending i5’s hills it’s not uncommon to see flames coming off the brakes on Big Rigs .
          .
          -Nate

      • 0 avatar

        My 2012 Elantra is at 91,000 miles, almost all of them city, and still on the original front brake pads. Why? Because I use the manual shift function for engine braking (when needed) every time I drive and never ride my brakes. There are many long, steep hills here in Portland and I use either 3rd or 4th (out of six gears) when going down them, depending on my speed. When I talk to people around here who complain about their brake pads going after 20,000 miles, I tell them what I do and the response is almost always the same. “That will break your transmission. You shouldn’t use that feature. It’s not good for the car.” My reply is always, “If it was going to break it, why did Hyundai put it there?” One day at the end of my shift, a bus driver I work with was writing up the bus she had and I jokingly asked what she broke. She replied, “The brakes.” I told her she should downshift and again, she told me that the manual shift feature on our Chevrolet chassis buses would break the transmission. I gave her my standard reply of GM wouldn’t have put it there if it were bad for it. On my most recent evaluation I was commended for using the manual shift mode on grades and my trainer told me almost nobody else does it.

        I’ve been gearing down on all four of my cars on a cumulative total of almost 300,000 miles and have replaced a grand total of zero transmissions. I fully expect to cross 100,000 miles on my Elantra with the factory front pads and rotors.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    “…food/taco trucks (were called “garbage trucks” or worse)…”

    I always heard “roach coach”.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      In my neighborhood, the only taco trucks that were called roach coaches also sold, um, “smokables” on the side. that was the code term. They were cheaper than Danny or Pedro, and wrapped like a couple rolled tacos. Ask for the “genuine” salsa.

  • avatar
    OldManPants

    Oh, this later P20 be righteous!

    ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/AS/ASEMaster35yrs/2013-01-25_212534_chevrolet-stepvan.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      That’s not the ice cream truck driven by Cheech and Chong in “Nice Dreams”, is it?

      • 0 avatar
        OldManPants

        Nut-uh… but you made me check.

        s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/99/c8/70/99c8708cdcb4e367fa2b97d2a64900c7.jpg

        Edit: hold on, that grille’s different from this movie clip.

        content9.flixster.com/question/36/92/52/3692527_std.jpg

        Fraudsters. Is nothing sacred?

  • avatar
    pwrwrench

    Around 1980 the 454 engine in these utility/motorhome chassis were having some problems. The crankshaft thrust bearing was subject to rapid excess wear. If this went on long enough the crankshaft would push the torque converter back into the transmission causing more damage.
    At the time, B I (Before Internet), this was a main topic of discussion at any place where motorhome people were.
    The owner/buyers hope was the failure would occur while the engine/driveline was still covered by warranty.
    IIRC many of them failed shortly after the warranty was over.
    I do not remember if this problem was ever completely resolved and/or a cause found. My speculation was that the crankshaft main journals were ground with a slight taper causing the crank to ‘walk’ back in the bearings.
    Obviously something happened as I knew people in the later 80s and 1990s that had motorhomes with 454 engines and they did not have this problem.

  • avatar
    Ostrich67

    Took me a while to find out what you meant by “crank p!$$”

    https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/tinkle-tweaking-v18n6

    Just wow.

  • avatar
    JEFFSHADOW

    I definitely prefer my 1976 GMC Motorhome to anything else out there!

  • avatar
    Brett Woods

    Great pictures

  • avatar
    triman95

    The Adventure Line Manufacturing Company was founded and owned by Chester Charles John (Known to friends as “CC”). The name came from a tour boat he used to own and operate in the Hawaiian Islands that he named “Adventure Liner” after WWII. He eventually sold the company and moved to the Midwest where he founded a company manufacturing camping equipment. As the company grew to large for his garage he moved it to Parsons KS. There he expanded to manufacturing camping trailers, pickup slide in campers, and motorhomes. He also looked into the feasibility of aluminum cookware. When he discovered the benefits of government contracts he began manufacturing bomb casings, and then the aforementioned M16 magazines. He sold the company and retired to Florida in the early 70s. The building he constructed in Parsons (following a fire in the original building) is still used for manufacturing today by the Ducommun Aerostructures company. CC John was also a Pearl Harbor survivor, a Navy Vet, he served in the Merchant marine, and was my Grandfather.


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