Just when I think I’ve reached the bottom of the rabbit hole of weird motorhomes, another creation comes to the surface. If you travel to Pennsylvania, you’ll be in the same state as a magical, rare coach with the heart of a Ford truck. This 1971 Krager Kustom Koach is a fiberglass motorhome meant for the backwoods hunter and their buddies that manages to be so ugly it comes back to being beautiful again.
I’ve frequently said that if you’re looking for a motorhome that doesn’t look boring, set your sights on rigs from the past. Sure, you’ll have to deal with outdated camping equipment and often tired, overworked powertrains, but you’ll almost certainly arrive in style. The 1970s was a great era of experimentation in motorhome design. This is an era that brought the iconic GMC Motorhome, the FMC 2900R, the Ford Condor II, the DayStar, the Barth, the Airstream Argosy Motorhome, and so many more. The 1970s were so crazy for motorhomes that Winnebago teamed up with Orlando Helicopter Airways to create helicopter motorhomes! I’ve written about that one before and perhaps one day it’s worth a revisit.
Anyway, the creations by Krager Kustom Koach were right at home in the 1970s. This motorhome looks bizarre on the outside while being a time capsule of 1970s interior design with its wood finishes and natural colors.
Krager Kustom Koach
As Hemmings writes, perhaps a couple of dozen Krager Kustom Koaches were built, but it’s not exactly known how many. What I can tell you is that there are very few archived listings for these and information about the company that built them is even harder to find. However, there are morsels of information out there.
According to the 2000 book Home On The Road: The Motor Home In America, Krager Kustom Koach was the brainchild of Eugene Krager. The book notes that Krager was an experienced homebuilder. Following the establishment of a niche of Ford and Dodge-based luxury motorhomes, Krager joined a growing field of camper producers looking for their own slice of the pie. Krager Kustom Koach, which abbreviates to KRAE, opened its doors in 1957 in Osseo, Minnesota.
Krager’s first campers were slide-in units that rode in the beds of pickup trucks. These camping units were sold in eight and 10-foot lengths and advertised a contoured top for cleaner aesthetics and better aerodynamics. Krager’s other trick was building its truck campers out of a foam laminate sandwich. This allowed the truck campers to weigh as low as 1,200 pounds. Exact details about how these campers were built are scant, but Krager appears to be one of the only manufacturers to build campers out of foam laminate. However, foam structure does get plenty of use in custom camper builds.
Reportedly, in 1963, Krager got into building the kinds of motorhomes we would classify as Class C coaches today. For $8,495 ($85,422 today), you could buy the Krager Motor Home. This was a 20-foot motorhome with the cab and chassis of a Chevrolet truck and a Krager camper body on the back. Included in the Krager Motor Home were all of the amenities of a home for six people, including a full bathroom, kitchen, and HVAC system.
In 1964, Krager introduced a smaller variant. The 16-foot Krager Kustom Koach was also fully furnished like its larger sibling, but just $7,400, or $73,207 today.
This Krager Kustom Koach
That takes us to 1970 when Krager Kustom Koach was awarded a patent on the design of a motorhome. That motorhome is what you see here today. This iteration of the Krager Kustom Koach eliminates the cab of a donor chassis with a full fiberglass body of Krager design. The fiberglass makes sense, given Krager’s previous experiments with foam laminate. The 1970s were also a time when fiberglass as a camper building material was taking off, so Krager was keeping with the technology of the day.
The 1970s-era Krager Kustom Koach was available in multiple sizes and it seems that the size of your Krager determined the chassis underneath. This 22-foot Krager is a Ford underneath while at least some of the 26-foot Kragers rode on International Harvester chassis. Reportedly, Krager went out of business in 1973, leaving owners concerned about service and replacement parts.
At the heart of this 1971 Krager Kustom Koach is a Ford chassis of some kind. in 1971, Ford says it offered the P-350, P-400, and P-500 commercial chassis to motorhome builders. Those trucks came with engines ranging from a 240 cubic inch six to a 390 cubic inch V8. This Krager Kustom Koach has a Ford 330 cubic inch V8, which wasn’t offered in Ford’s P-Series. It’s unclear whether Krager went with a different chassis, a different engine, or the original engine had been replaced.
Mounted on top of that chassis is a full fiberglass body. The lines of the body sort of make sense if you squint hard enough. There are a lot of styling details up front that just end at the front windows.
The fiberglass appears to be holding up well for its age. There are some waves and some cracks in the fiberglass coating, but no major damage that my eyes can see. It’s unclear how original the body and paint are, but I can tell you that the coach has been cleaned up. The motorhome was for sale on Facebook two years ago in Allentown, Pennsylvania and it looked a bit grungy.
Inside, the Krager is largely a time capsule back to the 1970s. What remains of the motorhome’s carpet is that green shag stuff and many surfaces appear to be finished in faux wood.
Everyone gets to sit in brown leather chairs and the ceiling is some pretty neat quilted material. Even the kitchen is so green. A neat trick about the dinette bench seats is that they’re reversible so that people riding in the motorhome can face forward as it drives down the highway.
The seller notes that you have a full kitchen and a wet bath, but it would appear that the camper looks like an unfinished restoration. The floor is solid, but most of it is missing carpet. Meanwhile, the propane appliances are present but aren’t hooked up. Unclear is what’s going on with the motorhome’s holding tanks.
Good news comes in the form of a running and driving powertrain. The seller says they replaced the entire ignition system from the plugs to the points and the 330 cubic inch big block V8 runs smoothly. The shore power connection is also working, as is the air-conditioner. That means you could wrench on this engine in air-conditioned comfort! Really bad news comes from the lack of working brakes, so you’ll have to fix them before departing or call a tow truck.
According to Hemmings, these were sold as the perfect backcountry outpost for hunters and sportsmen with some friends. I’m not sure how good the Krager Kustom Koach would have been at that task, but today, it would be a real head-turner at a campground. The seller sees this Krager as a good prepper motorhome since it doesn’t use any electronics.
Regardless of what you’d use it for, you’ll have a rare and obscure coach that is anything but boring. If you’re interested, the camper can be scooped up for $6,000 from the seller in Bethel, Pennsylvania. Have fun on your next camping trip, just make sure you can stop it first.
(Images: Facebook Seller, unless otherwise noted.)
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