Tag Archives: Cortez Motor Home

Rolling Thunder Review

2 Mar

The Rolling Thunder Review Days

When Bob Dylan hit the road with a hodge podge collection of artists and musicians  in 1975 and 1976 neither Dylan nor the world knew what hit them.  Among those featured in the Revue were Joan Baez, Roger McGuinn, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Kinky Friedman and Bob Neuwirth. Neuwirth assembled the backing musicians, including T-Bone Burnett, Mick Ronson, David Mansfield, and Steven Soles, and, from the Desire sessions, violinist Scarlet Rivera, bassist Rob Stoner, and drummer Howie Wyeth.  As if these egos weren’t enough Dylan added Sam Shepard and the ramblings of Allen Ginsberg to the line up presumably to add mystique to the (what turned out to be) glorified jam sessions.  Posterity has already judged the worthiness of either the soundtrack or the film that accompanies it.  Let’s just say that the Corvair has persevered and aged much better than that rollicking madcap club.  So has the Cortez.  Clark’s Cortez motor home that is.

Cortez Motor Home is a Class-A motor coach made in the United States between 1963 and 1979. Only 3211 of the units were built in this period. The Clark Forklift Company began making small motor homes in 1963. The units were designed from the ground up, rather than using existing truck chassis.

The New Rolling Thunder Review

A four speed manual front wheel drive transaxle was used in order to eliminate a drive train that would necessarily have either increased height or diminished interior headroom..

Early units used a Chrysler 225ci industrial slant-6 engine. In 1969 a V-8 engine was introduced, using a Ford 302ci engine but still using the 4-speed manual transaxle. In 1971, the Oldsmobile Toronado front wheel transaxle with a 455ci engine in conjunction with a GM 3-speed automatic.

In 1970, Clark Forklift sold the Motorhome division to Alco-Standard. In 1975, the company was acquired by 26 owners of Cortez coaches and production continued through 1978 when the company folded. The last units were completed by a bank in 1979.

Full Frontal Cortez

James Krantz purchased the tooling, spare parts, and a few unfinished units around 1980 and moved operations to Lafayette, La. There under the name Cortez Inc., he sold parts, performed service, and did robust drivetrain conversions to earlier model Clark Cortez’s, coverting them to the V8 automatic transaxle, similar to that found in 1970+ models. Operations ceased in Lafayette around 1990. James still sells parts for the coaches.

Cortez Motor Homes enjoy a devoted following. Aficionados prefer its all-steel body despite rust issues, its smooth ride, and its moderate size.

I checked out this motor home a few weeks back located in a side yard of the seller in Arroyo Grande, CA.  Originally on Craig’s List I was intrigued by the truly unique looks of this sleek model.  It was only when I spoke with the owner that I learned about the fork lift company dabbling in the motor coach world.  This particular coach would make an ideal ride for a couple ready to hit the road in style.  Catherine and I have been looking for such a vehicle for quick weekend get aways and perhaps a trek to Telluride for the film festival.  The generator and engine fired up upon demand and the engine quickly idled like a kitten once warmed up.

Inside the Rolling Thunder

Upon review this particular coach requires a restoration that I am not willing to undertake.  Over all it is in remarkable shape and needs lots of cleaning, an overhaul of all systems such as stove and refrigerator, shower, toilet and sink and rust repair that needs attention pronto.  We really are looking for more of a turnkey operation but this baby I guarantee will turn heads when fixed up properly!

Yet Another Peek Inside

Another Peek Inside

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