7 Discontinued RVs That Need to Come Back
When the popular Livin’ Lite RV trailers ceased production a couple of years back, lots of people were shocked. The innovated composite and aluminum trailers had a lot going for them – and lots of fans, too.
But the manufacturer’s parent company, Thor Industries, abruptly pulled the plug on them in 2018.
Decisions like this leave a lot of RVers scratching their heads. Many of these discontinued RVs have gone out of business before they’ve gone out of style.
In fact, it seems like they were literally yanked off the showroom floor.
Many of them are missed. Today we’ll look at seven RVs that have been discontinued – and would probably be welcomed back with open arms.
Why Do RVs Get Discontinued?
Why does this happen? There are a few different reasons that RVs get discontinued.
Companies are often tight-lipped about their reasons behind such decisions, but in most cases you can rest assured that it’s probably a financial matter.
Maybe the company itself has run into money problems, or maybe a particular model is just too costly to build. It could be that the quality control has been a costly issue.
Another possibility is that while a particular type of RV is trendy at the present time, the company sees a changing market up ahead. Maybe they feel like they’ve exhausted their sales already and want to go in a different direction.
7 Discontinued RVs and Manufacturers That Need To Come Back…Like, Today
Whatever the case, there are some discontinued RVs that we’ve hated to see go. We would love to see these seven classic campers, in particular, roll out from assembly lines once again:
Airstream RVs have been a camping mainstay for decades, and most of them have been made from aluminum. However, the company flirted with fiberglass as far back as early as the 1950s.
The Nest, however, was the result of a design from a separate company based in Bend, Oregon. Airstream bought them out in 2017 and produced the lightweight 16-footers for less than three years.
During its short life, the Airstream Nest seemed to gather a big following despite its base price of $45,900.
Born Free Motorcoach
Founded by John Dodgen, this company based in Humboldt, Iowa, made farm equipment before getting into the RV business. They had a good long run, building their solid and desirable Class C motorhomes until 2015.
Born Free RVs were custom built to order and were known for their high-quality materials, including wood cabinetry. They were powered by a Ford engine and chassis.
Dodgen Industries was in business for almost 70 years when it sold out to HBF Investments. The founder’s grandson, Brandon Dodgen, stayed on as a manager but the plant shut down two years later.
If Born Free was still in production today, it would surely make our list of the 5 best small Class C RVs.
Conventional wisdom is that the General Motors had a terrific product but terrible timing when it launched its motorhome.
The GMC MotorHome was built from 1973 to 1978. Unfortunately, that was during the years when gasoline was very expensive. It was also before RVs boomed in popularity.
If gas prices had been lower, maybe these Detroit beauties would have ushered in that boom.
Under the hood of the GMC MotorHome was the same 455-cubic-inch V-8 engine that powered the front-wheel-drive Oldsmobile Toronado. They were offered in a 23-foot model or a 26-foot model. More than 12,000 were built during a six-year run.
Blue Bird Wanderlodge
Blue Bird is better known for mass transit, and the Wanderlodge started its life as a school bus. It was first introduced as the Transit Home in 1963 and continued its life until 2009.
Unlike the buses, each Wanderlodges was custom built. There were more than 200 different options, so no two are exactly alike.
The early models were 31 feet in length and powered by a Ford Super Duty V-8. Later models grew to 43 feet with a Detroit Diesel Series 60 engine.
The company, headquartered in Fort Valley, Georgia, ultimately decided to devote its resources to buses.
Pro Tip: There are a few good Class A RV brands out there, here are the 5 best.
Fiber Stream RV Trailers
This one’s close to our hearts, but kind of mysterious too. We knew nothing about Fiber Streams when we purchased our 1985 model just over five years ago.
We still don’t know a lot more.
From 1975 to 1986, the company made only one model – a 16-foot dual-axle travel trailer with a fiberglass body that’s molded in one piece.
The company was started in San Diego by the husband-and-wife team (the Lenards) and one additional employee. We’ve been unable to determine how many of these breadbox-style campers were constructed.
Here’s a view of the original factory guide and a little more info.
These stopped rolling out almost 30 years ago, but many of them are still rolling along. The first ones were the Toyota Chinooks that left the line in 1972.
They were actually a Toyota long-wheelbase truck chassis outfitted with camper shells made by an independent California company.
As many as 50,000 Toyota motorhomes were produced until 1994. Popular models included the Dolphin and the Sunrader.
Toyota RVs enjoy kind of a cult following today. One problem with them, however, is the added weight of the camper led to rear axle failures.
First produced in Indiana under the name Camplite in 2009, Livin’ Lite travel trailers had a lasting impact on the industry.
They were lightweight because they were made from aluminum and composite materials rather than wood. They were built to last, though – and the ones we see out and about seem to be holding up well.
When Thor announced in 2018 they would stop making them, some were in disbelief. In its short life, Livin’ Lite had legions of fans. Dealers were sorry to see them go, too – some said they practically sold themselves.
What Discontinued RV Would You Like to See Re-Born?
Let us know in the comments what discontinued RV you’d like to see on the road again!
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You missed the most sought after discontinued RV. The beloved Winnebago Rialta.
As they owner of a 2004 Born Free, I sure wish that company was back in business!!
The Rialta was great for design of the RV itself, but bad choices for drivetrain. First the Renault, then the VW. The first was always breaking down. The second also had problems, not the least being very hard to find mechanics to work on everwhere people in the USA travel. Plus expensive to have fixed.
It would be great if the Toyota Chinook could be reborn as a more affordable and nimble Tiger. Lifted, 4WD, modern interior, and with plenty of solar and off-grid capability. I have friends with Tigers, great vehicles but too large for my kind of travel (also sleeping up-top is like sleeping in a coffin, but that is my issue, none of them mind).
As far as the others on the list, the Nest was too expensive and similar to the much more capable Basecamp. It would be great to see a modern version of the GMC – ran across an old one in Anza and got a tour, pretty cool rv – too big for me, but was surprised to see it so far off the beaten path.
One of those beautiful old GMC motorhomes is in the RV park where I’m at in CA. So pretty and low compared to today’s big boxy class As. A friend of mine lives in one of the old Toyotas with the nearly indestructible 4 cylinder engine.
The more I read the more it seems Thor is destroying the RV world. Buying out everyone and now the world’s largest RV manufacturer. Of crap. They outright discontinue good ones, and change quality of the others. Downward, not upward! They look great, but breakdown and fall apart if used full time.
The XPLORER 230XL built on the current Ford E350 cab chassis is my preference
Is there any reason you passed over the Glendale Titanium fifth wheel? These were built with quality in mind. They were a lighter-weight trailer with real wood cabinets, drawers and doors. Most of us who have them are not parting with them. The concept was bought by an American company who shall remain nameless (because my “rememberer” isn’t working right now!) and that company put a couple out for a year or two then dropped it. I have one of the older ones (2002) and I love it!
When Bluebird moved from the Transit Home to the Wanderlodge, they built 10 prototypes in 1964-65. Then production began in 1965. I own the first of the prototypes. 1964 Bluebird Wanderlodge built on a GM chassis with a GM 348W gas truck engine. I have repaired, rebuilt, and restored top to bottom, including a few upgrades. I now live and travel in my Bluebird of Paradise full-time.
Many of the Toyotas were upgraded with modified Ford or Dana rear ends.