This 1940 GMC Motorhome Built for Jane Russell Is an Extremely Rare Survivor

hace 1 año, 5 meses - 9 diciembre 2022, autoevolution
This 1940 GMC Motorhome Built for Jane Russell Is an Extremely Rare Survivor
You've already seen the one-of-one 1938 Diamond T aerodynamic hauler built for the Seagram distillery and now, it's time to take a closer look at a very special 1940 GMC motorhome.

One that was commissioned by Howard Hughes for Hollywood star Jane Russell.

If you're not very familiar with these names, you should know that Hughes became famous in the late 1920s, when he produced big-budget and often controversial films such as The Racket, Hell's Angels, and Scarface. He also acquired the RKO Pictures film studio in the 1940s.

Hughes was also an aircraft enthusiast and pilot, set up his own company, and survived no fewer than four airplane accidents. He set a round-the-world flight record in 1938 and a transcontinental airspeed benchmark in 1937.

Jane Russell did not fly planes, but she was one of Hollywood's leading sex symbols in the 1940s and 1950s. She got her first film role in Hughes' "The Outlaw," which hit the silver screen in 1943 and is now regarded as an iconic Western.

Back to our GMC in question, this short bus was commissioned by Howard Hughes for "The Outlaw." It's one of eight such vehicles ordered by the producer and it's the one that Jane Russell used while filming.

More specifically, it's that type of vehicle that actors used to change costumes, redo makeup, and rest between scenes or filming sessions back in the day. And sometimes, they were also used as sleeping quarters.

This GMC doesn't have a bed, so it didn't double as a camper, but it was pretty much a motorhome without a bedroom. Because it had a fully equipped kitchen with a fold-out table, a gas stove, a sink, and plenty of storage cabinets. It also included a small shower cabin with a toilet.

Fortunately enough, the vehicle is very complete and still includes all its original furnishings. It's unusual for this type of bus to soldier on in one piece for so many decades, but I guess it got lucky and wasn't trashed after it was decommissioned.

Its history between being a movie trailer and becoming a barn-found-style relic is a mystery, but the GMC spent a few good years in the Rob van Vleet collection in Sidney, Nebraska.

And it seems that the owner had already begun restoring it, as the old paint has been sanded down and the bus now sits on new tires. Luckily enough, it also spent most of its life in California, so it's a rust-free survivor.

How many of them are still around? Well, I've done a bit of digging and found two more survivors, but I'm pretty sure that half of the eight examples built are either missing or rotting away in backyards.

It's a tragic fate for any historical motorhome of the art-deco variety, but at least this one is getting the love and attention it deserves. It will probably take a few years for the new owner to restore it to its original specifications, but it will be a sight to behold. Until that happens, check it out sitting in the Rob van Vleet collection in the video below.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, this bus is based on the very first medium-duty trucks that GMC introduced in 1939. Built for only a couple of years, the series included a conventional cab truck known as the AC and a cab-over-engine variant sold as the AF.

The latter also spawned a military version during World War 2. While not exactly valuable as classic vehicles, AC/AF trucks are very rare nowadays.

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