Imgur user Jaygryph started his personal RV journey on a quest to find and restore a special RV owned by his parents.
I don’t just mean one like it, I mean the Corvair powered Ultravan his family had owned almost 30 years before. In fact, so the story goes, he owed his origins to a trip to Canada in that very RV.
This is a Corvair powered UltraVan. Around 400 of these aluminum and fiberglass egg shaped RV’s were built in the 60’s and early 70’s. Each is numbered, like Airstream trailers, and this one is #307. Fairly sure the number means #7 of the 300 series. 30 years or so ago my parents owned this RV. Dad did much work to it and made many improvements. (Apparently I exist because of this monster and a trip to Canada…)
The Corvair UltraVan is a quirky American classic.
The RV had long since vanished, but then fate stepped in. A seemingly random call from the UltraVan fan club (a club historian was looking for his parents and details on the van’s history) put Jaygryph on the hunt.
A few months ago a random phone call from the historian at the UltraVan club caused the RV to once more surface. They were looking for info on it’s history for the club roster and my parents were the oldest recorded owners. Dad helpfully filled them in on it’s history and I inquired if the thing was still around. Turns out it was, and it had been for sale for most of the last decade as it sat mostly hidden in a fenced storage lot.
The UltraVan, waiting for rescue in a storage yard.
After a quick flight to California, he found the largest Corvair ever made nestled between a dead Ryder moving van and a Chevy lowrider truck. After another month of negotiations, he struck a deal and made the purchase over the phone.
Next up, the 1,500 mile journey home – back to its former owners.
Here’s a good view of the UltraVan’s egg-like shape.
The original design of the UltraVan combined the aerodynamics of an Airstream trailer with the convenience of a self-propelled vehicle. The Ultravan is 22 feet long and weighs in at 3,500 pounds, not much for a vehicle of that size.
A rear-mounted six cylinder Corvair engine, beefed up to 140 horsepower, sits under the master bedroom floor in the back of the vehicle.
The UltraVan’s bedroom, with a custom aluminum floor and motor hatch.
Close-up of the dual carburetor Corvair 140 engine.
Years ago, Jay’s father had replaced the old plywood flooring with aluminum panels, making the engine much easier to access – which was good – because it needed quite a bit of work.
The UltraVan’s kitchen, on an odd angle to accommodate photography in the small space.
Much of the interior was still in usable condition. The front seats were replaced for safety reasons and the old carpet was taken out. The kitchen, including fridge and stove were still serviceable. With some help from a member of a local Corvair club chapter, he got the motorhome running and on the road.
1,500 miles later, with a couple of roadside break downs thrown in for good measure, the UltraVan was home safe and sound.
Taking a well-deserved rest in its new home.
What a cool way to bring RVing back into your life!