"It sat, in silver paint of course, lightly flattened and patinated by half a century’s careful polishing and rubbing in the sun-drenched courtyard of a Spanish hotel. We were in town to drive its successors, but I couldn’t "
Brave of Heart, Weak of Limb
Ok, so our 1973 Winnebago Brave is beautiful. That characterful face. That beautifully chromed flank. That killer veneered interior panelling. The funky vinyl dash. The cool lettering. And the Red Indian kitsch on the walls is worth its weight in unleaded.
But there are downsides. Sure, rather than clogging up the roads with a slow crawling white plastic panelled motorhome and communing with the middle-of-the-road deep within us, we’re barrelling through the Irish lanes with the accompanying soundtrack of a 5.9litre Chrysler V8 and feeling like things are just as they should be. What’s missing though, is the country and western soundtrack (the radio hasn’t worked since Woody Guthrie popped his clogs), and a sense of security and wellbeing.
The steering ratio on the Winnie is scarily slack, the column wobbling alarmingly over every pothole. What’s worse is that the drum brakes’ slow compliance means you have to drive like a track cyclist on a city street – anticipating junctions, tight bends and the erratic nature of Irish drivers’ lane selection.
The huge American lump, which is located just under your right elbow, belches out a steady but small stream of noxious fumes and enough decibels to drown out the sound of the overpriced Euros tinckling down the drain with every kilometre.
The engine note is something approaching that of a Pro Mod dragster, and without the baffles it surely would be the note of a Pro Mod dragster. The leaf sprung ride is, meanwhile, vomit inducing and the Texas-scaled refrigerator doesn’t work. We had to fill the radiator with filler after the first forty miles, and she’s currently undergoing brake cylinder surgery after having been towed by our friendly neighbourhood lowloader.
But despite all of the above. We love our Winnebago.
We think we’ll retire her to grow old gracefully and use it for spare accomodation in the back garden. Because Winnie wasn’t really meant to be driven. She was meant to be enjoyed. And you can do that wherever she parks. She’s just so….cool.
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