Revcon


REVCON

Manufacturer Information 

First of all, what is a Revcon?

After driving many of the typical motor homes built on truck chassis, John Hall knew that this was not the best way to build a motor home. In fact, it was a terrible way to build motor homes. The truck chassis rode too harshly over bumps and the center of gravity was too high to handle corners well. The harsh ride often jarred cabinets, light fixtures and even the walls loose. The high center of gravity turned twisting roads and passing trucks into white-knuckled events. The wooden roof and walls often leaked, creating problems that no coach owner wanted. But John Hall had an idea: an all new motor home, all new from the ground up. John knew that his motor home would have to be front wheel drive to get the low center of gravity needed for the superb handling he wanted. He also knew a wooden roof and walls weren’t what he wanted, so this new motor home would be made out of aluminum like an aircraft. This was an all new idea, a totally new concept, a REVolutionary CONcept: a REVCON!

The Airstream Connection

It’s no secret that Revcon construction bears a striking resemblance to Airstream trailers. It’s also no coincidence. John Hall was the stepson of Airstream founder Wally Byam. John knew that the all aluminum construction was far superior to anything else being built at the time. The entire shell was aluminum framing, with aluminum sheets riveted to the inside and outside. The walls and roof were built this way, with no seams in the roof to leak. It was also much more rigid than the typical wooden studs with thin aluminum siding stapled to the outside and plywood paneling stapled to the inside.

The GM Connection

In 1966 GM’s Oldsmobile division rocked the auto industry with the introduction of the Toronado. The Toronado was all new, nothing like it had ever been seen before. With swooping curves, hidden headlights, big-block power and front wheel drive, it was as luxurious as it was innovative. Powered by a 385 horsepower 425 cubic inch V8, GM’s revolutionary Turbo-Hydramatic 425 transmission propelled the front wheels, an American first in 30 years. John Hall knew at once this was the drivetrain he needed for his Revcon. The front wheel drive would eliminate the need for a driveshaft from the front of the coach to the rear, and would permit the low profile and low center of gravity he envisioned. Once John Hall proved to GM that the drivetrain would work in a motorhome GM liked the idea so much that they copied it, and built the GMC motorhome.

The Result

In 1968, the first Revcons were built. They included aircraft aluminum monocoque body construction, and a custom built chassis with Oldsmobile Toronado front wheel drive. The lightweight, low profile and front wheel drive made the Revcon handle as well as any American car of the day, quite a feat for a 12,000 pound motor home. It certainly helped the fuel economy, consistently 2 to 4 MPG higher than the competition. The innovation didn’t end with the drivetrain and body, Revcon took it to the interior as well. Lightweight materials were used throughout. Cabinets were constructed of aluminum honeycomb core sandwiched between 2 thin layers of formica. Not only did this save weight, it was much more durable than the plastic or pressboard cabinets that were typical of the era, and are still the industry standard today. Everything was then trimmed with genuine teak accents. The interior walls were aluminum sheets, with high quality vinyl wall covering. The wall paper inside my Revcon is over 30 years old and looks as good as it did when new. Quality didn’t stop where you couldn’t see it either. At a time when most motor homes were built with so called “wet baths”, where the entire bathroom doubled as the shower stall, all Revcons had “dry baths” with separate shower stalls/bath tubs, just like a smaller version of your bathroom at home. Regular production started in 1971, with Revcon leading the industry in innovation and luxury. By this time, Oldsmobile had increased the size of the Toronado engine to 455 cubic inches, even more suited for motor home use. Early models, affectionately called Flat-Noses, were built until 1977 and could be had in 4 models, the 220, 250, 260 and 290, with several floorplans built in each model.

Years built

1968 – 1977

Models

  • 220
  • 250
  • 260
  • 290

Pictures/Videos

Flatnose Frank is a 1972 RevCon model 250 aluminum motor coach. RevCon was started by John Hall, the stepson of Airstream’s founder, Wally Byam. John’s “Revolutionary Concept” was to add a big Oldsmobile motor and a front-wheel-drive transmission to the iconic aircraft aluminum body. “Frank” is named for the Frankenstein array of American auto manufacturer parts used by RevCon from Olds, AMC, Chevrolet, International Harvester, Dodge and who knows what others.

My wife and I saw Frank’s classic aluminum-and-rivet style hiding beneath his very rough exterior. It was abused by transients and moved around the outskirts of town every 72 hours to avoid being impounded. When it showed up parked a block from my house, I happened upon the owner while I was leaving a note to ask if it was for sale. Surprisingly, he had a clear title. After a couple days of sketchy negotiations, Frank chugged and creaked into my driveway and was ours.

I love restoring cars and my wife loves home design, so this complete renovation seemed like a project made in heaven. Predictably, it was way more work and cost than we really expected. We tackled the project by working between 5 and 7:30 am on the weekdays and on every spare night and weekend.

We love retro modern design so we took that approach with this project. Light, airy, modern, but with classic lines. A bit of auto leather plus “70’s color, patterns and style liven up the interior.

We finished our RevCon project – or at least ticked off the last, original “to do” – in Fall 2018. It took a total of 1200 hours in over a year and a half. The result is a one-of-a-kind accomplishment that will bring us years of enjoyment, adventure, and conversation with family and new friends.

As 2019 rolls in, Frank’s seen about a thousand miles. Look for him and us at vintage RV shows and rallies that we discover throughout West!

I’ve photo documented the project here on Flickr: flic.kr/s…

Brad Johnson uploaded Flatnose Frank: Our Renovated Vintage RevCon Motorhome (“Is that an Airstream?”) through Add A Home.

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Modern home with Exterior, Camper Building Type, Airstream Building Type, Tiny Home Building Type, and Metal Siding Material. Flatnose Frank - 1972 RevCon 250 in the rough. This is after a complete interior gutting and being "cleaned up" for the bodywork estimate. Photo  of Flatnose Frank: Our Renovated Vintage RevCon Motorhome ("Is that an Airstream?")
Photo Courtesy of Brad Johnson

Flatnose Frank – 1972 RevCon 250 in the rough. This is after a complete interior gutting and being “cleaned up” for the bodywork estimate.

Modern home with Exterior, Tiny Home Building Type, Airstream Building Type, Camper Building Type, and Metal Roof Material. Polished top half required 40 hours to strip manually and 18 hours of professional work by Universal Metal Polishing from Alameda, CA.  Frank's now ready for the paint shop. Photo 2 of Flatnose Frank: Our Renovated Vintage RevCon Motorhome ("Is that an Airstream?")
Photo Courtesy of Brad Johnson

Polished top half required 40 hours to strip manually and 18 hours of professional work by Universal Metal Polishing from Alameda, CA. Frank’s now ready for the paint shop.

Modern home with Shed & Studio. Here's the lower section body work well underway at Fleet BodyWorx in San Jose, CA. Photo 3 of Flatnose Frank: Our Renovated Vintage RevCon Motorhome ("Is that an Airstream?")
Photo: Brad Johnson

Here’s the lower section body work well underway at Fleet BodyWorx in San Jose, CA.

Next step...paint (Lexus Nebula Gray Pearl). Photo 4 of Flatnose Frank: Our Renovated Vintage RevCon Motorhome ("Is that an Airstream?") modern home
Photo: Brad Johnson

Next step…paint (Lexus Nebula Gray Pearl).

Modern home with Exterior, Airstream Building Type, Camper Building Type, Tiny Home Building Type, Metal Roof Material, and Curved RoofLine. Adding exterior detail like new locks, chrome lugnut caps, and a thousand more things. Photo 5 of Flatnose Frank: Our Renovated Vintage RevCon Motorhome ("Is that an Airstream?")
Photo: Brad Johnson

Adding exterior detail like new locks, chrome lugnut caps, and a thousand more things.

Modern home with Exterior. The paint is incredible - metallic pearl gray changes with the angle and light. Photo 6 of Flatnose Frank: Our Renovated Vintage RevCon Motorhome ("Is that an Airstream?")
Photo: Brad Johnson

The paint is incredible – metallic pearl gray changes with the angle and light.

Modern home with Living Room, Bench, and Storage. Cabinet building in process. Everything is framed and built from stratch. Photo 7 of Flatnose Frank: Our Renovated Vintage RevCon Motorhome ("Is that an Airstream?")
Photo Courtesy of Brad Johnson

Cabinet building in process. Everything is framed and built from stratch.

Cabinet installation in progress. This crew of brothers from Pride Painting went above and beyond helping with our crazy project. (The temp storage from PODS housed all the cabinetry while the RevCon was in the body shop.) Photo 8 of Flatnose Frank: Our Renovated Vintage RevCon Motorhome ("Is that an Airstream?") modern home
Photo: Brad Johnson

Cabinet installation in progress. This crew of brothers from Pride Painting went above and beyond helping with our crazy project. (The temp storage from PODS housed all the cabinetry while the RevCon was in the body shop.)

Modern home with Living Room. Cabinet installation continues with semi-gloss white paint. Photo 9 of Flatnose Frank: Our Renovated Vintage RevCon Motorhome ("Is that an Airstream?")
Photo: Brad Johnson

Cabinet installation continues with semi-gloss white paint.

Modern home with Living Room and Dark Hardwood Floor. I discovered this treatment that dates to the 1600's -  cerused wood finish on original teak trim achieved with black dye, shellac and liming wax. All wood trim received this finish. Photo 10 of Flatnose Frank: Our Renovated Vintage RevCon Motorhome ("Is that an Airstream?")
Photo: Brad Johnson

I discovered this treatment that dates to the 1600’s – cerused wood finish on original teak trim achieved with black dye, shellac and liming wax. All wood trim received this finish.

Modern home with Living Room and Vinyl Floor. I reupholstered this huge 94" dashboard in black vinyl to match new black leather driver/passenger seats. Photo 11 of Flatnose Frank: Our Renovated Vintage RevCon Motorhome ("Is that an Airstream?")
Photo: Brad Johnson

I reupholstered this huge 94″ dashboard in black vinyl to match new black leather driver/passenger seats.

Adding the "retro" to retrofit on the gauge panel - it's very old-school aircraft inspired.  The center cluster is a custom ABS plastic box I learned how to build with supplies from TAP Plastics (I became a regular). Photo 12 of Flatnose Frank: Our Renovated Vintage RevCon Motorhome ("Is that an Airstream?") modern home
Photo: Brad Johnson

Adding the “retro” to retrofit on the gauge panel – it’s very old-school aircraft inspired. The center cluster is a custom ABS plastic box I learned how to build with supplies from TAP Plastics (I became a regular).

Finished dash and steering wheel. Aluminum and black is the theme for the cab. Photo 13 of Flatnose Frank: Our Renovated Vintage RevCon Motorhome ("Is that an Airstream?") modern home
Photo Courtesy of Brad Johnson

Finished dash and steering wheel. Aluminum and black is the theme for the cab.

This is the original two-passenger front seat from RevCon, reupholstered to match the leather driver's seat. Photo 14 of Flatnose Frank: Our Renovated Vintage RevCon Motorhome ("Is that an Airstream?") modern home
Photo Courtesy of Brad Johnson

This is the original two-passenger front seat from RevCon, reupholstered to match the leather driver’s seat.

Retrofit Mercedes GL450 leather, 6-motor driver's seat is fully adjustable, swivels 90 degrees , and is super comfortable. Photo 15 of Flatnose Frank: Our Renovated Vintage RevCon Motorhome ("Is that an Airstream?") modern home
Photo Courtesy of Brad Johnson

Retrofit Mercedes GL450 leather, 6-motor driver’s seat is fully adjustable, swivels 90 degrees , and is super comfortable.

Modern home with Kitchen, Range Hood, Drop In Sink, White Cabinet, Metal Backsplashe, Range, and Recessed Lighting. The galley features tin tile backsplash from Home Depot, Atwood stainless range, Hengs hood, Kraus faucet, laminate granite-look countertop and the original RevCon stainless sink. Photo 16 of Flatnose Frank: Our Renovated Vintage RevCon Motorhome ("Is that an Airstream?")
Photo Courtesy of Brad Johnson

The galley features tin tile backsplash from Home Depot, Atwood stainless range, Hengs hood, Kraus faucet, laminate granite-look countertop and the original RevCon stainless sink.

Modern home with Dining Room, Medium Hardwood Floor, Bench, Table, and Recessed Lighting. This is the finished main area fully designed by my talented wife. Photo 17 of Flatnose Frank: Our Renovated Vintage RevCon Motorhome ("Is that an Airstream?")
Photo Courtesy of Brad Johnson

This is the finished main area fully designed by my talented wife.

Right rear couch / double bed with inspiration paisley fabric on pillows. Cushions, leather seats and pillows were all stitched masterfully by Barrios Upholstery in Morgan Hill, CA. Photo 18 of Flatnose Frank: Our Renovated Vintage RevCon Motorhome ("Is that an Airstream?") modern home
Photo Courtesy of Brad Johnson

Right rear couch / double bed with inspiration paisley fabric on pillows. Cushions, leather seats and pillows were all stitched masterfully by Barrios Upholstery in Morgan Hill, CA.

Modern home with Bath Room, Drop In Sink, One Piece Toilet, Laminate Counter, Open Shower, Medium Hardwood Floor, and Vinyl Floor. Bath area refinished. Notice the push-lock latches. I bought these in bulk from China. We saved the original chrome t-paper holder and soap and cup holder  (on the left, closed. It revolves open). Photo 19 of Flatnose Frank: Our Renovated Vintage RevCon Motorhome ("Is that an Airstream?")
Photo Courtesy of Brad Johnson

Bath area refinished. Notice the push-lock latches. I bought these in bulk from China. We saved the original chrome t-paper holder and soap and cup holder (on the left, closed. It revolves open).

Modern home with Exterior, Airstream Building Type, Metal Siding Material, Tiny Home Building Type, Curved RoofLine, and Metal Roof Material. Side view. Hot-rod look and sound thanks to custom built 19.5" wheels from American Specialty Wheels in Kennewick, WA and 3" exhaust welded up by Luna's Mufflers in San Jose, CA. Photo 20 of Flatnose Frank: Our Renovated Vintage RevCon Motorhome ("Is that an Airstream?")
Photo Courtesy of Brad Johnson

Side view. Hot-rod look and sound thanks to custom built 19.5″ wheels from American Specialty Wheels in Kennewick, WA and 3″ exhaust welded up by Luna’s Mufflers in San Jose, CA.

Rear view. Aluminum trim prieces were a huge polishing job. LED floodlights inset in custom bumper shed great light for setting up camp! Photo 21 of Flatnose Frank: Our Renovated Vintage RevCon Motorhome ("Is that an Airstream?") modern home
Photo Courtesy of Brad Johnson

Rear view. Aluminum trim prieces were a huge polishing job. LED floodlights inset in custom bumper shed great light for setting up camp!

Modern home with Outdoor. Frank's home is on the road, near the beach Photo 22 of Flatnose Frank: Our Renovated Vintage RevCon Motorhome ("Is that an Airstream?")
Photo Courtesy of Brad Johnson

Frank’s home is on the road, near the beach

Reflecting the setting sun Photo 23 of Flatnose Frank: Our Renovated Vintage RevCon Motorhome ("Is that an Airstream?") modern home
Photo Courtesy of Brad Johnson

Reflecting the setting sun

Clubs/Links

http://www.revcon.org/Home

https://www.facebook.com/RevconRV

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