The 1970s brought out more creative solutions to the triple punch of emissions, fuel economy, and safety laws that were getting in the way of automakers’ good time. Marketers could no longer wantonly talk about horsepower when most V8s struggled to surpass 200hp (thanks also to the change to net horsepower measurement), so they had to come up with clever ways to move their metal. Things like “sports” packages that consisted of little more than a spoiler and some vinyl stripes were commonplace, but GM (yes, bad, old, non-innovative GM) took it one step further, adding a camper top to their Jimmy two-door SUV. And so you have a camper that seats 4, sleeps 2, has a stove and sink, and unlike other campers, allows you to go where only 4-wheel-drive vehicles can. Check out this 1977 GMC Jimmy Casa Grande for sale for $3500 in Anaheim, CA.
You can be the only one in your town, and possibly your state, to own one of these, as there were only 1800 GMC Jimmy Casa Grandes and Chevrolet Blazer Chalets made for the 1976 and 1977 model years. Only a small proportion of the vehicles produced were GMCs. One owner has traced 160 total trucks remaining, but estimates there are probably many more out there since owners don’t all realize the rarity of their trucks, or have them parked in storage lots. Unfortunately, the seller of today’s truck has recognized the rarity of his vehicle, but fortunately, he has realized that rarity doesn’t necessarily confer value.
Okay, let’s get it out of the way – it’s more like Casa Pequeña than Casa Grande. The body looks pretty good, although the camper section is showing some primer and a missing tail light in one shot. There are said to be 2800 miles on the rebuilt original 400ci engine, and there are about 80,000 miles on the truck. It has new brakes, new exhaust system, and is said to have a front and rear tow package. Things look clean enough underhood to substantiate the rebuild claim. Up front, the spare tire mount is missing its spare, and inside, it appears to be a Package 2 truck which added a refrigerator in place of the ice box.
Surfaces in the interior all look to be original (or at least period-correct) and in decent shape. Hopefully the seat covers just protect the seats (or the seller’s legs from summer vinyl burns) and aren’t disguising damage. What is the spare gauge at the bottom of the dash? The “cockpit” has enough trees to have used up an entire forest of miniature naugatrees (the mythical faux-wood trees inhabited by the naugas that provided the hides for the seats).
The back looks decent too – the two benches are presumably where you and your co-camper would sleep, unless you got Package 3, in which case you’d also have a pair of extra beds up top. There’s also a storage area above the cab where a small child could sleep. Not visible in this picture are the stove, sink, and fridge on the left, and the closets on the right. So in case a Vixen camper is too oddball for you, how about this Casa Grande?