The Vixen

Last Sunday, shortly after we'd stopped surfing and were eagerly awaiting an empty outdoor shower stall, a rather interesting automobile, er, make that motorhome, pulled in and parked across from where we were camped. It was long and low and looked uniquely European. I swore I'd seen one before - in a parking lot in Port Angeles - but after Karissa and Angel did some investigating, we discovered this was not an ordinary RV (and certainly not the one I'd seen). This was a vintage Vixen 21 TD!

The Vixen 21 was a futuristic motor coach produced by the Vixen Motor Company in Pontiac, Michigan, from 1986 to 1989. Three different models were built; the Vixen 21 TD (a BMW turbo-diesel powered lift-top), the Vixen 21 SE (a General Motors gasoline powered fixed-top) and the Vixen 21 XC (a BMW turbo-diesel powered eight-passenger limousine). All of the turbo-diesel models came equipped with a rear-mounted 115hp 2.4-liter inline-six engine mated to a Renault five-speed manual trans-axle, while the gasoline powered version came equipped with a 165hp 3.8-liter V6 attached to a four-speed automatic trans-axle.

The Vixen was designed by Bill Collins, an automotive engineer who completed a lot of the initial design for DeLorean's DMC-12, and was wind-tunnel tested until it reached a drag coefficient of .29, which was better than most sedans and sports cars on the road at that time. That low cD, coupled with its light weight (5,100 lbs) and a fuel-efficient engine allowed the TD model to reach 30 mpg, while the gasoline powered SE model managed 20 mpg. All of the Vixens were 21 feet long and roughly six feet wide. The TD model featured a sideways self-raising pneumatic top, which allowed someone as tall as 6'4" to stand without hitting their head.

Only 578 Vixen 21s were built between 1986 and 1989, with the assembly plant closing for good on April 7th, 1989. So what makes this thing so special? Well, aside from its aesthetic appeal and automobile-like handling, the Vixen filled the gap between conversion van and recreational vehicle, which today have both become overweight, unattractive and ungainly in almost every possible way.

Click here to watch the most amazing 80's advertisement for the Vixen.

Click here to learn more about the Vixen Motor Company.