Courtesy of Barrett-Jackson

If there is such a thing as a Hot Rod RV, this is it. Mother Nature has provided “just the right patina” on this unit’s original exterior, with the builder’s unique imagination performing the rest.

This RV is powered by Mopar’s 318 V8 with Sanderson custom headers, Flowmasters and dual exhaust with an automatic transmission. The custom-fabricated suspension places the unit lower than Winnebago engineers ever dreamed possible, making it handle like no other.

All-new, hand-crafted cedar wood interior is decorated appropriately, including re-upholstered old theater seating, new futon bed, plaid driver’s and passenger’s seats and no shortage of wall art.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1972 Winnebago Brave Custom RV
Years Produced:1972
Number Produced:About 15,000 (total production for the year)
Original List Price:$6,995
SCM Valuation:$3,500–$10,000
Chassis Number Location:On the frame facing outside, above right front leaf spring
Engine Number Location:Stamped pad on front of engine, above water pump housing
Club Info:Classic Winnebago Club
Alternatives:Any early ’70s RV from Winnebago, Pace Arrow, Travco, GMC, etc.
Investment Grade:D

This 1972 Winnebago Brave, Lot 81, sold at Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale auction for $12,100, including buyer’s premium, on January 14, 2014.

Crazy awesome

Where am I supposed to start with this one? With the builder? What type of person thinks gutting and lowering a used-up old Winnie is a meaningful use of their time, money or talent? A crazy person? Maybe. A genius? Perhaps. A party animal? Most definitely.

Crazy-genius party animals rank high on my list of favorite personas, and whoever built this thing was definitely speaking my language. With a face only Mad Max’s mother could love, this Winnie has character for days. That upturned nose, the crumpled brow, the “chalky” exterior… It’s enough to get any true grease monkey a little hot and bothered.

The exterior is just the beginning, though, because, as Momma said, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. In this case, all of the original Winnebago appointments have been exorcised in favor of what may best be described as a local-watering-hole-style remodel. Although that means the new owner will have to live without the original Apple Green appliances, Antique Avocado drapes, and 40-year-old plumbing, it also means there is simply less, uh, crap to deal with.

Hot-rod Winnie?

I’m sure some will argue that an RV without a cooktop or a toilet is as purposeful as a screen door on a submarine, but there is purpose aplenty here. It may not be destined for any national parks or yacht-club shindigs, but anywhere potbellied men shave the number 3 into their chest hair, it will be welcome. Anywhere brats are rolled over hot coals, and anywhere the sweet aroma of race gas and burnt rubber hangs in the air, it will make friends.

In fact, anyone who has ever ventured to any of the great shrines of automotive bravado knows that strutting around the pits behind the wheel of a vehicle like this one is surely the next best thing to being on the track. The thought of guiding this great beast into the infield at the Daytona 500, or onto the salt at Bonneville, with a giant cooler full of tall boys and an interior packed with buddies, makes my palms sweaty.

Overall, there’s not much here that I can find to complain about. The only real gripe I have is that the auction literature touts the Winnie as a “hot-rod RV.” This Pooh bear’s stance is great and it has serious curb appeal, but any self-respecting hot-rodder knows a stocker 318 simply will not abide, especially in something this big. But in this case, I’m almost willing to look the other way.

The hot-rodder label gets thrown around a little too carelessly these days, but I think it was tacked on here because the seller knew we hot-rodders are probably the only ones crazy enough to shell out the cash and dedicate the parking space to a tubby brick on wheels.

Ringing the bell

So what about the buyer? What kind of person shells out big bucks (relatively speaking) for a slightly askew motorhome? Well, shortly after the sale, rumors quickly began to swirl that Mike and Jim Ring of Ringbrothers fame were the unlikely duo that plunked down the cash necessary to take the Winnie home.

If you haven’t heard of the Ringbrothers, then you haven’t been paying attention. They build cars with industry-shaping creativity and detail, and are absolutely deserving of the hype. I’ve picked through more high-end hot rods and muscle cars than I care to remember, and the work of the Ringbrothers is up there with the best of ’em. With that knowledge in mind, I simply could not resist the temptation of giving them a call to get a bit more insight on their motivation to land this Winnie. Mike and Jim were happy to share their story.

We bought that?

So what was it that motivated a couple of guys with an eerily acute — some might call it Hannibal Lecter-like — attention to detail to shell out 12 grand on a wonky motorhome with no porta-potty? These guys are true motorheads, who, as they told me, just “love old stuff,” and buying the Winnebago was a decision fueled by impulse, not investment. Sometimes, that’s all the reason one needs.

The Winnebago was first pointed out to them by a friend who thought the old RV would be right up their alley. As predicted, their interest was piqued, but the Winnebago was selling on Tuesday, and they weren’t arriving in Scottsdale until Wednesday. A second friend was contacted and asked to bid on Lot 81 if the Winnie looked decent and “was going cheap.” When Mike and Jim finally made it to Scottsdale, they found themselves $12k in the hole and heavy one old RV.

Climbing behind the wheel of the stubby coach left them with two distinct impressions: fear for their lives and an instant case of buyer’s remorse. That’s what a brake pedal that goes straight to the floor will do to you. It’s fitting that the word “Brave” is plastered in faded text, right on the side.

However, this Winnie seems to simply have a way with people, and the overwhelmingly positive response they received convinced the brothers to steel their commitment. As Mike and Jim explained to me, “We’ve won the Mothers Shine Award several times, but we’ve already gotten more recognition for buying that old Winnebago! It’s just crazy!”

Now that they have it home in Spring Green, WI, work is already under way to fulfill the promise of that “hot-rod RV” moniker. An LS3/Bowler transmission combo is on the way, and, in typical Ringbrothers fashion, they are already getting a little carried away with the details. They promise, however, that the exterior will remain untouched.

Chalky billboard

At first glance, $12k may seem like a lot of scratch for something like this, but that’s awfully cheap to drive home a rolling party. It is particularly cheap when you consider that the Ringbrothers now have an unmistakable rolling business card that provides an unexpected glimpse into the characters of the men behind the wheel.

There aren’t many vehicles out there that you can line up beside the Winnie and analyze apples to apples. This was an unusual sale in unusual circumstances, and is a perfect example of an individual oddball vehicle taking on a personality all its own. A stock Winnebago Brave of the same make and model in your local Craigslist will likely cost you about 25% of the price paid here, but Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale sale does funny things to people.

Considering just how much buzz this old tank has created, it’s awfully difficult to argue that it wasn’t worth the money. It sounds like the Ringbrothers are planning to drive the wheels off this ol’ Pooh bear, and I’m willing to bet they’ll enjoy every mile along the way. I know I sure would.

(Introductory description courtesy of Barrett-Jackson.

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