The FMC Motorhome has an interesting lineage, for FMC is the acronym for Food Machinery Corporation. FMC got its start in 1883 when inventor John Bean developed an innovative insecticide pump. The name was changed from the John Bean Manufacturing Company to the Food Machinery Corporation in 1928 when the company got into the canning machinery business. 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. Race car 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. There is believed to be 7-800 units still out there.
Text from the book Mobile Mansions by Doug Keister. Additional information about the book is available at www.keisterphoto.com