Turtle Top motorhome? - Fiberglass RV
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Old 12-29-2020, 08:12 AM   #1
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Name: Summer
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Turtle Top motorhome?

Hi all,

My spouse and I are looking for a small motorhome to be our full-time home, and we've stumbled onto this one. The ad says it's from 1982, and the insignia and the owner both say it's a Turtle Top. The little information I've been able to find, from the company itself and from a couple of other places, say that the company made fiberglass motorhomes (from what I understand) and fiberglass topped camper vans for a while but now makes shuttle buses instead. The information available is super sparse, though, especially on the motorhomes, and I haven't been able to find a single picture of another one exactly like this one, and not many pictures of their non-campervan motorhomes in general. I couldn't find a single youtube video of one.

I was wondering whether any of you might know anything more about them, or be able to point me toward any information, or just... anything? Even looking it up on NADA to get a guess on whether the price is reasonable proved fruitless. It didn't list 1982 as one of the years Turtle Top made motorhomes, so maybe the year I was given is incorrect? *shrug emoji goes here*

It's a six hour drive from here, minimum, so we haven't gotten the chance to see it in person yet, but after talking to the current owner, looking through the pictures, and reading what little there is to read about turtle tops I'm pretty in love with it. Trying to do what research more I can before I get too carried away with myself, so that I can see things clearly when we're able to go look at it.






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Old 12-30-2020, 12:34 AM   #2
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Oops, it didnít include the pictures. Iíll see if I can fix that when I get back to my computer.
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Old 12-30-2020, 04:21 AM   #3
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Old 12-30-2020, 08:34 AM   #4
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Summer, I think you might get a better response from camper van groups. This forum focuses mostly on molded fiberglass pull behind trailers. Here is a link to an RV Life article (parent of this forum) with a list of all their forums. You might like Class B forums and the general forum iRV2.

NADA is not all inclusive and may be missing some of the rarer RVs. I found an article indicating that they produced camper vans until 1998, so 1982 is a reasonable year. Hard to say without photos if it is molded fiberglass or just a conversion with a topper. It looks like their camper van lines went through several iterations.

I see that you are in Alaska. Are you sure you want to full time in an RV that is not 4 season ready?

Are you mechanically inclined? A nearly 40 year old motor vehicle is going to come with its fair share of issues.

If you want to broaden your search for vintage molded fiberglass motorhomes, you can look for Sunrader, Chinook, and American Clipper. Bigfoot made a 3000 series motorhome but it wasn't molded fiberglass; still a very high quality product from what I understand.
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Old 12-30-2020, 10:30 AM   #5
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From a valuation standpoint, exact year has zero impact on value. It’s all about condition. 1978, 1982, 1985, doesn’t matter. Condition can result in a range from $2,000 to $12,000.

Compare to similar RVs in similar condition rather than exact brand. And then there is value to YOU. It may be worth more (or less) to you than others. Finally, systems wear out. Even the top of the line RVs tended to use components from the same companies that supplied to other lesser brands. My well respected Trillium has parts in common with disposable, mediocre trailers.

Assume you will discover problems later so plan on doing some maintenance.

Agree, as a full time home in AK? I couldn't do it.
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Old 12-30-2020, 02:15 PM   #6
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Full time ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by thrifty bill View Post
From a valuation standpoint, exact year has zero impact on value. Itís all about condition. 1978, 1982, 1985, doesnít matter. Condition can result in a range from $2,000 to $12,000.

Compare to similar RVs in similar condition rather than exact brand. And then there is value to YOU. It may be worth more (or less) to you than others. Finally, systems wear out. Even the top of the line RVs tended to use components from the same companies that supplied to other lesser brands. My well respected Trillium has parts in common with disposable, mediocre trailers.

Assume you will discover problems later so plan on doing some maintenance.
___________________________________
I have had 3 little fiberglas motorhomes, back in the days when they were almost new. Two of them lasted about a dozen years each. But They were TINY! Without photos I would say they are not for full timing...and that is for Calif, where weather is much better. Remember, in a fiberglas trailer, you get 13 - 16 ft of living space, in a motorhome about 1/3 of the space is the engine compartment. Don't fall in love with a fiberglas RV, we all do that . But you can't LIVE on LOVE ! ( Except on S Calif beaches ! ) David in Fresno and Sonora, where the sun is out today and it is almost like springtime !
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Old 12-31-2020, 11:52 AM   #7
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SOme of it's molded fiberglass

Quote:
Originally Posted by SummerP View Post
Hi all,

My spouse and I are looking for a small motorhome to be our full-time home, and we've stumbled onto this one. The ad says it's from 1982, and the insignia and the owner both say it's a Turtle Top.

I would call yours pictured a Class C, and this a turtle top (class B )



This one is a youtube celebrity. (CHicago?)
https://www.facebook.com/groups/1824...30796240535289


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Old 12-31-2020, 09:37 PM   #8
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Thank you, all! I really appreciate it.
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Old 01-01-2021, 08:52 AM   #9
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Very cool! Interior looks to be in good shape and that pink and green has to be original. 40 years old, so you'll need to be on good terms with a competent mechanic.
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Old 01-01-2021, 06:02 PM   #10
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yeah, thats a class C... C's are built on a 'cutaway' which has the frame and nose of the van but no body. here's a typical Cutaway as it came from Ford...





Class B's actually have the van body, with usually an extended roof.
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Old 01-01-2021, 10:40 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AC0GV View Post
I would call yours pictured a Class C, and this a turtle top (class B )



This one is a youtube celebrity. (CHicago?)
https://www.facebook.com/groups/1824...30796240535289


Actually I'd call it a B+. It is smaller than most C's. C's have more sleeping room in the overhead bed area. I've owned at least 6 C's and they all had more bed space headroom. And yes they made a B+. They made some small RV's with an overhead bed on a Toyota chassis and other small chassis that they called a micro minnie. Looked like a Class C but was a whole lot smaller. The engines were small 6's and they carried about 12 gallons of gas. Cousins had one and they loved it but had to stop often for gas.
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Old 01-01-2021, 11:06 PM   #12
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There’s really no such thing as a B+. It’s a marketing invention with no clear definition, so it can mean pretty much anything you want. I’ve seen 30’ long motorhomes built on E550 cutaways with multiple slide outs called Class B+ simply because they don’t have cab-over beds.

It may sell RVs, but it’s bad taxonomy.

Motor vehicle codes recognize Class B’s, which are built on full-body vans, and Class C’s, built on cutaway chassis.

If anything truly deserves the label B+, it’s the wide-body van campers, which did start out as full-body vans, but had most of the steel body removed and replaced by a molded fiberglass shell to create more living space. Some retain the original van rear and/or side doors. They have been rendered obsolete by modern tall, extended length, unibody vans. This Roadtrek 210 Popular, built on a Chevy Express 3500 van, is one of the last of its kind.
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Many of the wide-bodies run very close to their GVWR, so modern small Class C’s are arguably a better way to add living space if a standard van is too small. But calling them B+ is misleading. This is a so-called B+ that is actually a small-ish Class C built on a Sprinter cutaway chassis.
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The OP’s unit is definitely a Class C on a cutaway, and the coach appears to be a combination of molded pieces and panels hung on a conventional frame. It was clearly a high-end unit in its day and appears well-cared for. It looks big enough for one person to live in, but limited insulation could make it a challenge in an Alaskan winter. Maybe in a place like Juneau...

Definitely arrange a mechanical inspection of the chassis, which has the potential to become a money pit. Test the RV appliances, and look for any signs of water leaks which can quickly lead to structural failure in a conventional RV.
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Old 01-17-2021, 04:48 AM   #13
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Another perhaps minor point: That cab over looks to be a bed, if so, it will be very difficult for even a nimble twenty year old to get in and out of easily. Maybe even impossible for an older person.

Hopefully this would not be your only motor vehicle when full timing. What if it does not start in the middle of winter? You have no transportation and no home.
Perhaps it would be better to get a car/truck and trailer.

Uninsulated fiberglass and aluminum framed trailers are cold in the winter time, but you can block off the underside to stop drafts and retain heat. Canít do that with a motor coach that you will need to drive to the grocery store. Gas mileage will be in the 6 to 8 mpg range.

That unit does look very well cared for and assuming the oil was changed frequently might be a good buy for someone to occasionally use, maybe even full time in the southern US.
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Old 01-17-2021, 06:25 AM   #14
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I’ll have to agree about the cab-over bed. Even if access is okay, not being able to sit up in bed is a nuisance, and it’ll be cold up there in winter. Great for storage, though, including daytime storage of bedding, which leads to...

Somehow I got it in my head this was for one person. When I realized it’s for two, I wondered about the bed situation. Dinette and gaucho both appear to to be fairly narrow. With full-time use do you really want to be converting them between beds and seats every day? How will it work if one of you is a early riser or a night owl? What if someone wants a daytime nap? What if one of you gets sick? For long-term occupancy by more than one person I’d personally want some separation between sleeping and living spaces.

I’m going to assume there is some other vehicle for everyday driving. Curious though- it’s been a couple of weeks since the OP checked in. What’s the verdict?
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