EM-50 Urban Assault Vehicle (GMC)

Mic, Flikr Creative Commons

Back in 1981 Columbia Pictures released an Ivan Reitman film called Stripes which starred Bill Murray and Harold Ramis. The movie was about a couple of guys who had less than stellar lives, and after seeing an Army recruitment poster with the tagline “Be All You Can Be” they decided to join up hoping to improve their lot. Hijinks ensue. Murray and Ramis stumble their way through basic training, but ultimately impress a general at graduation who picks them to work on his secret EM-50 project in Italy.

The EM-50 is a fictional military project for an “Urban Assault Vehicle” based on a 1976 GMC Motorhome Palm Beach model. In the movie it’s all tricked out with machine guns, flame throwers, rocket launchers, armor, and a communications and navigation center. Murray and Ramis, plus girlfriends, wander into Czechoslovakia by accident and when their platoon tries to rescue them and are captured by the Russians, the EM-50 armed duo comes to the rescue to much fanfare and acclaim.

Who knew a GMC Motorhome could do so much? The funny thing is, the GMC Motorhome is the only purpose-built motorhome ever built by a major car and truck manufacturer alongside their regular line of vehicles. Most other Motorhomes are either built by specific recreational vehicle manufacturers or converted from pre-existing designs by third parties. The GMC Motorhome was a design innovator by not only being a front wheel drive RV, but also featuring dual axle rear wheels. Over 12,000 of these Motorhomes were ultimately built between 1973 and 1978, and there are an estimated 9000 still on the road! Even after a 37 year gap since they were in production, their fuel efficiency compared to other RV’s of similar size and weight has kept them competitive. They came in either 23 or 26 foot lengths and have been restored and repurposed over the years until they’ve been described as that “26-foot, 12,000-pound antique hot rod with plumbing.”