The Vixen was the brainchild of William T. Collins, a former executive of Pontiac and the ill-fated DeLorean Motor Company. Collins believed there was a market for a sleek, stylish motorhome that was stingy on fuel. That market, Collins said, was young urban professionals, better known as Yuppies. Collins fashioned an easy-to-drive, aerodynamic motorhome that was easy on fuel and according to its advertising, “Goes through the wind like a knife through water.”
Any Yuppie would be proud to park the Vixen next to his BMW in his three-car suburban garage, thought Collins. As a matter of fact, Collins reasoned, why not sell it through car dealerships rather than RV dealers? Yuppies need not rub elbows with the geriatric crowd. Collins further proclaimed that the Vixen wouldn’t be introduced at the big RV shows; instead, its debut would be at the elegant Detroit Auto Show. With his game plan in place, Collins started producing the innovative and trendy Vixen.
The Vixen sported a number of innovations. First and foremost was a BMW turbo-diesel power plant that delivered close to 30 miles per gallon. Inside accoutrements included a full-size, permanently made-up double bed in the rear, a shower that had its water heated via a heat exchanger hooked up to the engine, an additional diesel hot water heater and furnace, 12-volt and 115-volt electrical system, and an air-suspension system that provided a smooth ride and doubled as a leveler at a campground. Best of all, and unique to the Vixen, was the roof that could be raised to provide over 6 feet, 6 inches of interior space when camping. When lowered, however, the exterior of the vehicle was only 6 feet, 4 inches tall and could be tucked into a regular garage.
From 1986 to 1989, 587 Vixens were produced in Pontiac, Michigan. Three hundred and seventy-six were turbo diesels, 39 were limousines, and the remainder were gasoline powered. Their steep price tag, ranging from $40,000 to $53,000, may have been somewhat of a deterrent, but the real mistake was that Collins didn’t do his homework. If he had, he would have discovered that Yuppies simply did not buy motorhomes and that motorhomes should be sold through a motorhome dealer.
This 1987 Vixen is owned by Ken Mantz and was photographed in Hutchinson, Kansas.
Gibbs Smith Publisher will publish Douglas Keister’s new book, Mobile Mansions, this spring. 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 email@example.com.
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