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RV Review: Taking a Fleetwood Discovery to Cousin Eddie – That’s a wrap!

Some of you have grown weary of me complaining about the swooshie graphics on so many RVs but, in particular, Class A RVs. In fact, several of you have called me on constantly complaining about this, and I’ve been better about it. I believe.

But then I found a Class A diesel pusher that has such memorable graphics even the manufacturer boasted about it. To some extent. What happened is TJ Bedacht and his wife, Heather, wrapped their 2014 Fleetwood Discovery 40G such that it resembles the motorhome used in the 1989 film National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

GCI Digital Imaging does all sorts of graphics

While that rig was a 1972 Condor II motorhome, the rusty, degrading appearance of that rig was magically transformed to the Bedacht’s modern rig thanks to the fact that TJ owns GCI Digital Imaging in Cincinnati, Ohio. That company does all sorts of graphics and their repertoire includes wrapping vehicles. So when the Bedachts got the idea to wrap their new-to-them motorhome, they already had a team in place who could do it. 

“We bought our Fleetwood this summer and for this trip we wanted it to look different,” explains TJ. “We talked about a bunch of ideas and came up with the ‘Cousin Eddie’ look because my uncle is a huge fan of the 1989 film National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Originally, we planned to keep it a secret but just couldn’t hold back.”

But the motorhome wasn’t the only piece of the puzzle, as they also wrapped Heather’s Ford Expedition to look like the Family Truckster from the movie, which meant a super deluxe wood paneling treatment. There’s even a Christmas tree on top. 

Nonstop onlookers due to the graphics

The comments from onlookers are incredible and, on a recent trip to Walt Disney World in Florida, the onlookers were nonstop starting about daybreak and lasting well into the night. 

“Every single person and golf cart that went by stopped and took a picture from 6 a.m. ’til midnight,” said TJ. 

“You’re going down the highway and people take pictures of it.” In fact some people have done some interesting maneuvers to get a better shot of the rig. 

The family had talked about buying an RV for the last five years. This June they found a 2014 Fleetwood RV Discovery 40G model that was in amazing condition. It had been stored inside and had just 17,000 miles on it.

“We love the fact that we’re able to continue with our daily life while going down the road,” says TJ. “Heather and the kids can watch TV, play games, or have lunch and the miles just zoom by.”

Cousin Eddie

There is a specific line in the movie for which Cousin Eddie, played by Randy Quaid, is known and may be a mantra for anybody who finds themselves in need of dumping their black tanks. In the movie, Quaid’s character dumped the contents of the RV’s black tank into the storm drain. If you’re one of five people in North America who hasn’t seen the movie, do so. It’s pretty funny and especially poignant for us RVers. 

The original rig that was Cousin Eddie’s “arr-veee,” as he says it, was a 1972 Ford Condor II motorhome. That prop vehicle has since been purchased by Atlanta resident Bob Boston, who shows it to willing audiences at almost any chance. It has been upgraded and restored to the point that it looks like the prop vehicle. 

The odd design of the Condor II, with its forward-leaning windshield, makes it almost as iconic as an early Winnebago. But Cousin Eddie’s rig was rusty and dilapidated by the time it showed up on-screen in 1989. 

A “rusty and dilapidated” RV, thanks to graphics

That’s the look the Bedachts went for, covering the Fleetwood with a wrap that makes it, too, look rusty and similarly styled and dilapidated. Under the wrap, the motorhome is remarkably well preserved, owing to how it was cared for. 

One of the things that really caught my eye is that the side walls on the slide rooms were wrapped in graphics to appear to be made of corrugated metal, also rusty. There are so many details in the wrap it’s difficult to pinpoint them all. 

According to TJ Bedacht, typically the artwork for a wrap can take as little as one day to accomplish. But this was a much longer project, consuming about ten days of detailed design time. 

“I just like to make things look unique – it’s hard to do with an RV.”

Cousin Eddie’s RV is very famous

I’m amazed at how long the legs of Cousin Eddie’s RV are. It’s almost as famous, if not more so, than every other character in the movie. There are Christmas ornaments, shirts, stickers and so many other things available to commemorate the rig. 

Mention issues with a black tank in virtually any RV-related group and you’ll be almost guaranteed to get a GIF image response with the famous line associated with Cousin Eddie. 

So how was a rig that looks like a rattle-trap rust-bucket received at the rather fancy Wilderness Lodge at Disney World? 

“The security guards were telling guests they had to see this thing.” 

Temporary wrap – what’s next?

Incidentally the wrap was designed to be a temporary wrap, and the Bedacht family is thinking about their options presently. That temporary status will appease one lady who had no kind words for the rig. 

TJ indicates that GCI Digital Imaging can make a wrap for just about any vehicle, including motorhomes. He has contacts throughout the U.S. who are able to apply the graphics they make. Whether you choose a pleasing mountain scene or something that makes your rig look like a movie prop is up to you. But I, for one, absolutely have to smile when I see what they’ve done here. 

##RVDT1765

 

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Eric
25 days ago

You too can be turned away from RV parks because of “dilapidation”.

Karel Carnohan DVM(@karel-carnohan)
27 days ago

Brilliant!

Gary
27 days ago

It costs $3-5000 to wrap a van so that wrap would probably be $8000+ to a customer.

Admin
RV Staff(@rvstaff)
27 days ago
Reply to  Tony Barthel

Yes, the video is there and he said it would be about $15,000 for this since it took so long. But the publicity for his company, and the smiles this is receiving — priceless! 🙂 –Diane

Barnjai
27 days ago

That’s so cool! My husband and I both love this. Great way to get your product out there. Good marketing. We’d love to make our 2010 20 foot Coachmen Catalina more unique on the outside. We’ve pretty much redone the inside. Maybe when we win the lottery. . . Which we never play. 😁

Ray
27 days ago

This article was fun and informative. After the fun I wondered if a wrap would be a viable option if our 2015 5th wheel ever reaches an unwanted stage of exterior deterioration.

TexasScout
27 days ago

I would love to see the reaction in one of those parks that only let RVs less than 10 years old to camp.

Crowman
27 days ago
Reply to  TexasScout

Exactly what I was thinking.

Karel Carnohan DVM(@karel-carnohan)
27 days ago
Reply to  Crowman

Ditto

Bob p
27 days ago
Reply to  TexasScout

Yep my thoughts exactly

Jopa
27 days ago

Not enough attention as a child and now getting some not so good attention.

tom
27 days ago

His RV, his dime. Interesting display of his firm’s graphic abilities.

Stephen Malochleb
27 days ago

All I can say is, Cousin Eddy is so proud……… Awesome!

Bob M
27 days ago

While this article is interesting. I’s rather and look forward each day to read about new RV’s

Admin
RV Staff(@rvstaff)
27 days ago
Reply to  Bob M

Hi, Bob. That was one article, and along with the one about Santa’s sleigh last week, that’s two (count ’em, 2) articles out of 365 for the year that weren’t about “new RVs.” Just sayin’. 🙄 Have a terrific and healthy 2022! 🙂 –Diane

Tom
27 days ago

I actually saw this going north on I 75 in Florida on Sunday December 26th.

Don
27 days ago

Unbelievable. Hard for me to imagine WHY anyone would do this to a decent Motor home…

Wayne Caldwell
27 days ago
Reply to  Don

For giggles and grins.

Charlie Sullivan
27 days ago
Reply to  Don

Probably because he owns the graphics/wrap design company and can write off all his travels as advertising for his business. I agree though, even though it’s just a temporary wrap, it’s ugly, ugly, ugly! Loved the movie though.