Baby Boomers and Boomer kids – including many of us here at E3 Spark Plugs – almost invariably have fond memories of weekends on the road, at the lake and in the campgrounds, stylin’ in the family Winnebago. But after a decade-long downturn in sales, by 2009 it appeared that the iconic motorhome maker might be a goner. Now, in a Tony Manero-esque comeback, the Winnebago is back on the scene in a big way.
In 2009, the Forest City, Iowa-based company named for the area’s massive lake, which was named for a Native American tribe, saw its sales tank to a paltry $211 million – less than a fifth of its 2004 sales. Some 20 players in the RV industry went under or got sold to competitors. Then, a crazy thing happened. Sales roared back to $803 million last year and hit $884 million in the most recent four quarters. Winnebago’s market share rebounded from 17.2 percent to 20.3 percent in the 12 months ending this past May. And, for the second consecutive year, the company has made Fortune’s annual Fastest Growing Companies list, sitting at No. 56 this year.
Now, Winnebago is banking on retired Boomer buyers with both money and nostalgia to spare. To that end, the brand is getting its groovy back with two new late ’60s- and ’70s-inspired models, the Brave and the Tribute. Both come with exterior and interior color options named for Disco-era favorites. The Brave, outfitted with the familiar bunk-topped cabin “brow”, comes in Crimson & Clover, Mello Yellow and Woodstock exteriors with Calypso or Good Vibrations interior decors. The Tribute sports a Tobacco Road, Aquarius or Bell Bottom Blue exteriors with Corduroy or Moody Blue interiors.
Style-wise, you’ll feel like you’ve traveled back in time a few decades and want to bust out your Credence Clearwater Revival 8-tracks (You KNOW you’ve still got ‘em stored away). But that’s where you’ll be welcomed back to the 21st century with ultra-modern gadgetry including flat-screen HDTVs with amplified digital TV antenna systems.
Can you dig it, E3 Spark Plugs Fans? Let us know if you’re headed to your nearest Winnebago dealer. Better yet, why not share your grooviest Winnebago memories? Post your thoughts and pics on the E3 Spark Plugs Facebook Fan Page.