Condor Off Road Race Motorhome?

by Wes Kibble on May 22, 2010

condor

Off Road Action reader Rod Hafner sent us this great photo of the Condor off road racing motorhome. He took the photo in the 1969 or 1970 Mint 400. I have seen a few photos of the Condor, but have very little information. This is probably the best photo that I have seen. Can any of you tell us about this oddity? According to this photo, Wes Thomas and Don Bass drove it. I assume that Condor sponsored it? What running gear did it use?

Update – Rod Hafner sent us this link to a great story and pictures about the Condor racing in Baja.

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Byron Schlomach July 30, 2010 at 4:59 pm

I don’t think that photo was taken in 1969. The air conditioner’s shroud looks too recent in design. I have a 1965 model of the Condor motorhome that has the same driver’s compartment design. I recall some years ago seeing this thing offered for sale for a substantial sum. The ad referred to the 460 V-8, a nitrous bottle, and Eaton axles. It is four-wheel drive. It has to be entirely custom. The rear of the motorhome has been cut off, for one thing. My motorhome extends a good six feet past the rear wheel wells and is a total 26 feet in length. By 1969, 28 foot Condors were standard.

The Condor of that time was made by a company completely different from the Condors of today. The original Condor company was Kelson Manufacturing in El Monte, CA. It went defunct in the mid-1970s. My father recalls reading that the company was bought by a man who took a trip in a Condor of the time (like the one used in the movie Christmas Vacation) and it was so troublesome he shut the factory. Condors from the 60s and 70s were built on very tough Ford 1.5 ton truck chassis. Mine is a P-500 chassis. Later, they were M-500s.

My Condor was originally owned by my dad. It had a 300 cid straight six and a C-4 automatic with 6.2 ratio rear-end. I’ve put in a 460 cid V-8 with a C-6 tranny and 4.33 ratio and climbed a 14% grade without a problem at 20 mph. I’ve had to repair some rot and re-paint but the old bird’s in pretty good shape.

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Wes Kibble August 5, 2010 at 9:33 pm

Byron, thanks for all the information! The Condor was a different beast! Were they all 4×4?

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tim timpe November 16, 2010 at 3:08 pm

i have a article in 1972 trailer life mag, that tells about the 4×4 condor production and racing history. the condor was powered by a 390 ford c6 trans and ford wide trac frontend.

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Byron Schlomach August 7, 2010 at 3:10 pm

The 4×4 setup is completely custom. The original rear axle was probably a Dana/Rockwell like mine. My front axle is a solid I-beam.

Something else I recall is that this race motorhome did a truck race up Pike’s Peak.

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Wes Kibble August 9, 2010 at 9:35 pm

Now that is something I would love to see pictures of!

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James August 13, 2010 at 12:07 am
Wes Kibble August 13, 2010 at 7:57 am

Great shot! Thanks!

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sandy cone August 13, 2010 at 9:38 pm

the condor was built by bill stroppe in long beach for condor it had abig industrial v8 and ran on lp.

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Wes Kibble August 15, 2010 at 10:23 am

Hi Sandy,
I did not realize that Stroppe built it. I would love to see some of your old racing photos of when you ran the Jeepster!

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Classic4x4Lover September 6, 2010 at 11:54 am

This is an awesome Condor camper!! Go to http://www.napco4x4.org to get more info on that front axle. The front axle is a NAPCO axle they made kits to convert a two drive truck into a 4 wheel drive truck with just using the existing factory drilled holes in the frame. They were used on Ford, Chevy, GMC and Studebaker from simple half ton all to earth moving heavy equipment and also military applications like tanks and 6×6 trucks. I bet that NAPCO 4×4 system would still hod up today if it was another Baja 500!!

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Colin Sullivan October 14, 2012 at 12:05 pm

I can remember seeing a unit like this at a Family Motor Coach Association convention in 1970 in Costa Mesa, CA. It was the only one that I ever recall seeing.
My parents had a 1965 Condor Motorhome that they traded for a 1969 BlueBird Wanderlodge. Those were the days…

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tim December 10, 2012 at 9:54 pm

I have a 1972 condor ii, i am installing bt6 cummins, automatic np205 transfer case, dana front end a(4×4 condor), have all the parts and pulled the orginal front axel today

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robert penkert December 12, 2012 at 10:28 am

I worked at Condor from about 1971 to 1974 and i worked on the race unit twice prepping it for the 500 it had bigger tires and the lp tanks were on top Clive Roberts a local news reporter was one of the drivers this thing would reach about 90 mph off road and the driver sat about 10 ft up very scary. it scared the bejesus out of the locals at speed because it was big tall loud and fast it was a complete motor inside everything worked If I remember correctly it finished both times. I also worked on Al and Bobby Unser’s matching red,white and blue Condor II motor homes,Jay Silverheels (Tonto)unit and the NASA units in the wonderful town of south El Monte. I now live in Idaho and a person here in town has a very low milage,less then 20000, 1973 31′ Condor II that I know that I built at the factory. The people have all the paper work and I signed the inspection sheet for my department and the final inspection sheet.Of all the places to find one of these in perfect condition in the middle of Idaho If I won the lottery I would buy this one in a heart beat. He only wants what he paid in 73 for it and it’s been parked inside its whole life what a deal

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Tim July 6, 2016 at 10:20 am

Mine still in the works, went through a divorce haven had time or money to finish last few years

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Jay December 15, 2012 at 12:56 pm

I too have a Condor… 1967 460 w/C6 originally a 4 speed. less than 15000 original miles.

J

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Rod Hafner May 12, 2014 at 2:16 pm
Curtis Guise May 12, 2014 at 3:11 pm

Thanks for the link!

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