The company kept adding mechanized products and eventually started producing amphibious vehicles for the military. During a lull in its military vehicle contracts in the late 1960s, FMC turned its sights toward the burgeoning recreational vehicle market. By 1972, FMC had transferred personnel from its ordnance division and formally launched a motor coach division in Santa Clara, California.
Initial prototypes were 19 and 23 feet long, but neither went into production. FMC settled on a 29-foot size, and the first one was completed in late 1972. The well-made and pricey coaches, which sold for between $27,000 and $54,500 or about the same price as an average home of that era, were popular among upscale motorhome buyers. Racecar drivers Mario Andretti and Parnelli Jones owned FMCs, as did entertainers Clint Eastwood, Carol Burnett, Pat Boone and James Brolin. But the most famous FMC owner was CBS reporter Charles Kuralt, host of the popular news feature On the Road With Charles Kuralt. An FMC was the last of Kuralt’s six motorhomes. It is on public display at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.
FMC coaches were manufactured from 1973-1976. The 1973 energy crisis put a damper on the manufacture of all brands of motorhomes, so FMC was in a difficult position from the beginning. By 1975, FMC had a contract to produce the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, and in September 1976 converted all the tooling in its factory to the manufacture of tanks. The FMC motor coach had reached a dead end. The final tally for the FMC was slightly more than 1,000 units, approximately 135 of which were transit buses. About half of the transit buses were eventually transformed into motorhomes. Despite their relatively modest numbers, FMC has two clubs, the FMC Club East and the FMC Club Southeast. Their records show that around 70 FMCs are registered and still on the road, but there are undoubtedly many more that are still roadworthy or registered under different names.
FMC built only one model, the 2900R, but different floor plans were available. This 1975 FMC powered by a 440 Chrysler industrial engine is owned by Leif and Elinor Scott. It was photographed at Camp Dearborn, Michigan.
Douglas Keister’s new book, Mobile Mansions, will be published by Gibbs Smith Publisher in the spring of 2006. If you have a unique motorhome, e-mail a photo to firstname.lastname@example.org. Doug is also the author of Ready to Roll: A Celebration of the Classic American Travel Trailer and Silver Palaces: America’s Streamline Trailers. Personalized autographed copies are available from Doug. You can reach him at the e-mail address above.