This 1966 Winnebago is about to start a new chapter in its life but one that is related to its story. You see my mother gifted us this vintage Winnebago after hearing that we were RV shopping. This also served to clear her driveway for my father’s new car.
In some ways, this Winnebago ignited an entire industry. When it was introduced in 1966 Winnebago’s F-series Motorhomes were truly revolutionary. They cost about half what others were charging in part thanks to the company’s patented “Thermo Panel” construction where an inside wall, a foam core and an outside wall were all glued together in a pinch roller system.
This and a efficient production made this vehicle much easier to sell to the masses at a time when the American worker was experiencing enough wage stability to have some money for recreational spending. And sell they did, turning Winnebago from a small and innovative trailer manufacturer into the powerhouse of RV production that they are today.
But this little guy was at the start with a Ford heart in the form of a Ford P-350 chassis sporting a fat 4.9L in-line six-cylinder engine and a three-speed automatic transmission. Surprisingly this was sufficient as Winnebago’s ads at the time claimed the vehicle weighed only 5500lb. Of course all that mass was brought to a halt by four drum brakes with a single master cylinder. Three sizes were available, a 17-, a 19- and a 21-foot variant.
So what’s it like to drive? I have no idea. Yet. At present we have the agreement on “Winnie” as she’s called but she’s still sitting in the driveway waiting for me to figure out how to get her to Northern California. While the engine and transmission and brakes are all reportedly solid I’m not sure the mountain roads between here and there are the place to reinforce this.
There is also significant water damage as you’ll see in the pictures caused by a window that fell out. Obviously replacing the 50-year-old window gaskets is going to be a priority.
So this is the first blog in a series where those who are interested can join us in the journey of bringing the Winnebago to California and then restoring her to her original coolness. My goal with Winnie is to get her to where she can go to car shows every weekend and Curbside will offer DJ and show headquarters operations at those car shows. Depending on how long the restoration takes, I’m hoping to have her ready for summer of 2017 when she’ll celebrate 51 years and a lot of happy miles.