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Vintage TransVan RV Brings Back (Fond?) Memories Of Leisure Suit Era

This post was updated on March 15th, 2024

If you lived through the leisure suit era you no doubt remember this beauty. Part motorhome, part Class B van conversion, this vintage TransVan RV from the late 1970s is enough to give any camper ‘antique RV envy.’

Does this vintage TransVan RV look familiar?

vintage TransVan RV
Rene Agredano

Spotted in an Arizona RV park, this resurrected vintage TransVan is one of the few in actual use today.

History of the TransVan RV

Although the TransVan has many fans who avidly recall it from the days of bell bottoms and disco, there are no official TransVan fan clubs. Locating any written history about this beauty is difficult. Here’s what we could gather from various vintage RV discussion forums and personal websites around the web:

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  • A cross between a motorhome and a van conversion, the TransVan was in direct competition to the popular Chinook Class B motor home.
  • Throughout its lifetime the TransVan was built on Ford, Dodge and Chevrolet chassis.
  • The bold TransVan graphics were a great selling point but the low interior height wasn’t. Even adults of average height had to stoop when moving around inside.
  • Like the Chinook it had a rear door that allowed more living space behind the cockpit.

A rear entry door allowed for uninterrupted living space.

vintage TransVanRV
  • The bathroom was also in the back left corner. “This allowed a lower floor back there, which made entering the john a bit less onerous,” says TransVan enthusiast Paul Niedermeyer.
  • A feature that made it more comfy than a Class B van was its an on-board Onan generator.
  • If you find one that’s in relatively good shape, nab it. Michael Van Pelt, an exceptionally knowledgeable TransVan owner, says the TransVans body frames were made with steel beams, not wood like most RVs. “The outside panels are THICK, 2′ wide aluminum sheets that run horizontally (also on the roof) and inside the walls and ceiling they sprayed a ‘hard’ foam insulation. . . The only fiberglass is the end cap and the cab cover.”

The bathroom was located in the far right corner.

vintage TransVan RV

Many TransVan owners held onto theirs for years, but unfortunately not everyone loved their vintage TransVan RV:

vintage TransVan RV

Lots of people excitedly post about buying a vintage TransVan RV in various RV discussion forums, but you rarely hear about the ultimate success (or failure) of their renovations.

Vintage RVs aren’t for the faint of heart, but if you have the guts and gusto to take on a TransVan renovation, we want to hear about it!

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