Knudsen’s first order of business was to hire famed stylist Larry Shinoda, who had designed the Corvette Sting Ray, the Z-28 Camaro, and the BOSS 302 Mustang. A second generation Japanese American (he and his parents were interned during World War II), Shinoda was recognized as one of the most brilliant minds in automotive aerodynamic design. When Shinoda arrived at the White facility in 1970 he was charged with the task of eking out 10 miles per gallon from a 10,000-pound motorhome. Shinoda is credited as the first person to use a wind tunnel to engineer a motorhome, a task he accomplished by carving a 1/25-scale model of his proposed vehicle and testing it at Fort Wayne University’s wind tunnel.
What resulted was a 25-foot long fiberglass shell mounted on a Dodge M350 chassis and powered with a 413 cubic inch Chrysler industrial engine. It got 10.1 miles per gallon. Surprisingly the Rectrans could accelerate from 0-60 mph in eleven seconds. From 1971 until January 1974 there were approximately 3,300 Rectrans built.
Pictured here is a 1972 Rectrans Discoverer purchased new by its current owner in 1975. The motorhome had originally been built for a doctor but was never delivered. At $17,735 it was the highest priced model and had a number of custom features, including a “Thermosan,” an ingenious sewage disposal system that pumped raw sewage through the exhaust system and incinerated it. When the energy crisis hit in 1973, many motorhomes sat unsold and idle for months. By January 1974, production of the Rectrans ceased and the factory closed its doors.
But the White Motor Company was spared a huge loss courtesy of a stroke of Divine intervention when in March 1974 a lightning bolt hit the Brighton, Michigan, factory, burning it to the ground, and the beleaguered company was able to collect on the insurance.
The 1972 Rectrans Discoverer is owned by Frank Canfield. It was photographed at the Flywheelers Park, Avon Park, Florida.Research Campgrounds, Plan RV Safe Routes & Turn your phone into an RV GPS.
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