Leisure vehicles have featured regularly, and sometimes prominently, in the popular culture of the last fifty or sixty years. When you think back across those decades, it’s easy enough to visualise the iconic Mystery Machine campervan in crime cartoon Scooby Doo or the motorhome in TV classic drama Breaking Bad.
There are many other examples speeding up the entertainment highway between those two – including the campervan in heart-warming movie Little Miss Sunshine or the caravan in the big screen version of terrific 1960s and ‘70s British TV comedy The Likely Lads. It’s interesting to note, though, that the leisure vehicles which feature on the silver screen and the goggle box mostly tend to be A-class motorhomes. Although the manufacturer and model may not often be named, the size of the vehicle tends to give away its classification. These larger and more luxurious home-from-homes are incredibly appealing, and set the benchmark for the leisure vehicle lifestyle.
In this edition of our blog, we’re focusing on iconic appearances by motorhomes – mostly A-class – in the popular culture of our times. Films or TV series which wouldn’t have been the same without an appearance from one of these large luxury liners!
This darkly comic crime classic ran for five seasons between 2008 and 2013 and featured a 1986 Fleetwood Bounder. Within this classic American motorhome, antihero Walter White (Bryan Cranston) set up a drugs kitchen for the production of crystal methamphetamine during his dramatic turn to a life of crime. Hapless partner Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) christened the vehicle with the name The Krystal Ship. The vehicle is central to a plot of several episodes and features in some of its iconic scenes. The livery of the Fleetwood Bounder used in Breaking Bad has, itself, become iconic – or, at the very least, instantly recognisable. This particular model of large luxury motorhome remains in production to this day, though obviously has been upgraded over the years.
Similarly important in a recent American TV drama was the 1973 D-27C Winnebago Chieftain featured in The Walking Dead. This series ran between 2010 and 2022, quickly establishing itself as the benchmark for modern zombie horror, and in the early episodes, the Winnebago Chieftain was an essential feature. It was used for travel, storage and shelter, along with positional and observational advantage. In fictional terms it was finally destroyed by fire during the third season of The Walking Dead, though the vehicle used in the filming of the series was on display at Universal Studios until 2020.
This 2011 sci-fi comedy features a comic-book loving duo (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) travelling across America in a rented Winnebago Chieftain (which features throughout the film). During their trip they pass the notorious Area 51 and pick up the foul-mouthed alien Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen). The kind but hapless pair help the extra-terrestrial escape from the government agents in pursuit, so that he can return to his home planet.
As far as Robert DeNiro and on-screen vehicles go, you’re most likely to associate him with a New York yellow cab in the psychological thriller Taxi Driver. But during his appearance as an overbearing father-in-law in Meet The Fockers (a 2004 sequel to 2000 comedy Meet The Parents) he drives a high-tech Fleetwood Pace Arrow. This particular one is no standard model, though. It’s fitted with many special (and hidden) modifications so it can double up as DeNiro’s secret spy command post.
Featuring the late great Robin Williams – all charisma and comedy smarts – RV is about a company executive who takes his dysfunctional family on a road trip holiday from Los Angeles to Colorado in an RV (an American acronym for ‘recreational vehicle’). As you might expect, things don’t go to plan on the trip – or once they’ve reached their destination. The ultimate message of the film seems to be that love is the only worthwhile way to determine wealth – and, of course, that motorhomes are great!
Though the humour doesn’t always play to British sensibilities, there’s no denying that National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation is a funny film, and perhaps the most iconic American seasonal comedy ever made – and it features a 1973 Ford Condor II. With its distinctive reverse-slant windshield, the Ford Condor became something of a classic on American roads. The one actually used for the filming of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation now resides at the Christmas movie museum in Medina, Ohio – perfectly demonstrating how iconic this film has become in the thirty-five years since release.
One of the most sharply written comedies of recent years, Frasier ran for eleven series between 1993 and 2004 (and has recently returned in slightly rebooted form). Often akin to an old-fashioned stage farce with impeccable timing or, sometimes, even getting close to the perfect slapstick of Laurel and Hardy, Frasier could also be wry and moving. A few episodes feature motorhomes – and top of that particular pile is the episode RDWRER, in which the Crane family head off in their large vehicle on a long trip to Idaho. They plan to see in the New Year at a wine club function, but things go awry very quickly, with hilarious consequences.
This Ricky Gervais comedy followed in the wake of the enormously successful series The Office. Although the large motorhomes featured in Extras are integral as locations in the film, there’s no real direct influence on the plot. Still, it’s difficult to imagine certain scenes playing out in any other environment than an actor’s on-set trailer. A scene featuring Patrick Stewart (most famous as Star Trek’s Captain Picard) holding court between takes is a classic few minutes of silly and surreal television, perfectly counterpointed by the domestic location of a motorhome trailer dining space…
It's really important to note that not all of the motorhomes mentioned in this blog are available in the UK - and some of them are not even in production these days anyway. But, if you’re a superfan who’s not quite lucky enough to be in a position to track down and import the movie or TV vintage motorhome of your dreams, don’t despair! There are plenty of great leisure vehicles in the UK which will make you feel like a star – particularly any model of A-class motorhome. A-class motorhomes tend to be the class that finds favour on our screens to illustrate the pinnacle of the on-the-road lifestyle, so buy one and it’ll be Hollywood living on home soil! Here at Leisure World we’re focusing on bringing you the very best A-class motorhomes money can buy in 2024. Check them out online or get up close and personal with them at our Catterick branch today.Back to Blog