The FMC Motorhome has an interesting lineage, FMC is the acronym for Food
Machinery Corporation. FMC got its started 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
During a lull in its military vehicle contracts in the late 1960s, FMC turned its sights
towards recreational vehicles. 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 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