Originally, Foretravels were built on Dodge van chassis, some were built on Chevy chassis and then truck chassis, mostly Dodge. When they shifted to diesel power, they shifted to Oshkosh chassis as they were the most readily available heavy-duty truck chassis. The earliest ones were front-engine models (OFED, OFEG). Then they shifted to rear-engine models (ORED, OREG). The body design remained such that it would work for either configuration – all the way up to 1994.
In 1974, they had pioneered the first use of a diesel engine in a conventional motorhome.
In 1977 Foretravel celebrated ten years in business with the introduction of the FTX (Foretravel Ten). The FTX offered features not common in the RV industry at the time . . . TVs, VCRs, dual roof air conditioners, icemakers, central vacuums, and more. The FTX was truly “the way to travel in style.” FTX was built from 1977to 1986. Also, by October of 1978, the FTX became the first conventional motorhome to be powered by a rear engine diesel.
During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Foretravel purchased the manufacturing rights to Travco and GTC (Avco) motorhomes.
Foretravel continued to manufacture motorhomes on many types of chassis. As for airbag type chassis in the 1980s and 1990s, Foretravel manufactured most of the known-Unihome type diesel motorhomes on an Oshkosh V-917 Frame rail type chassis which consisted of air suspension, air brakes, Caterpillar 3208-T V-8 diesel engine coupled with an Allison MT-643 four-speed transmission. There were however some of these Grand Villa motorhomes manufactured with a 300 hp 3208 and an MT647 Allison 4 speed. They used these chassis from model years 1982 through 1992 in both Foretravel FTX type (old orange and white) and Grand Villas which were introduced in the middle of the 1986 model year. You might occasionally come across a Foretravel diesel motorhome built on a Hendrickson or Capacity chassis but those are very few and far between.
To the best of my knowledge, Foretravel did not manufacture any frame rail – leaf spring type diesel motorhomes between 1983 and 1989.
They did, however, introduce a Grand Villa O-815D in 1990 and 1991. This diesel motorhome was also built on an Oshkosh 815 chassis and was powered by a Detroit 8.2 V-8 diesel engine and coupled again with an Allison transmission. This engine produced 210 hp and the chassis had a leaf spring suspension and hydraulic brakes.
In 1992 and 1993 model years Foretravel changed this motorhome to a Grand Villa O22C. This Grand Villa motorhome had a GVWR of 22K lbs and was powered by a 250 hp 8.3 Cummins diesel. This motorhome also featured the new Allison MD3060 six-speed World Transmission.
Foretravel builds no non-Unihome motorhomes after the model year 1993.
The Caterpillar 3208 was manufactured both with and without a turbo. But to the best of my knowledge, every Oshkosh chassis that included a 3208 that Foretravel used from 1984 model year to 1992 was turbocharged. Every Caterpillar 3208-T 250 hp diesel engine that I ever saw Foretravel use had the radiator mounted in the back. Every Caterpillar 3208-T 300 hp diesel engine that I ever saw included the charged air cooler in it and the radiator was installed on the passenger side rear.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Foretravel manufactured most of the non-Unihome type diesel motorhomes on an Oshkosh V-917 Frame rail type chassis which consisted of air suspension, air brakes, Caterpillar 3208-T V-8 diesel engine coupled with an Allison MT-643 four-speed transmission.
There were however some of these Grand Villa motorhomes manufactured with a 300 hp 3208 and an MT647 Allison 4 speed. They used these chassis from model years 1982 through 1992 in both Foretravel FTX (old orange and white) and Grand Villa’s.
In 1986, Foretravel introduced an innovative new motorhome with aerodynamic styling and an unusually spacious interior. Because of its grandeur and beauty, Marie Fore dubbed it the Grand Villa, and it quickly became one of the best-selling motorhomes in history.
After that, things got pretty confusing. For five or six years you could get a GV, OREG/OFEG/ORED/OFED, or a Unihome GV. They also offered a comfort ride Torsilastic suspension – the same suspension used in the old Greyhound chassis.
1986-1994 Grand Villa: Lengths: 29′, 30′, 33′, 35′
- Chassis: Roadmaster/Chevrolet/John Deere/Oshkosh
- Engines: Chevrolet/Ford gas or Cummins 5.9 diesel
- Lengths: 34′, 36′
- Chassis: Oshkosh
- Engines: Cat/Detroit/Cummins 8.3 diesel (some Ford 460 gas)Lengths: 38′, 40′
- Chassis: Oshkosh Engines: Caterpillar 250 or 300 hp
- U280s came with a 250 Cat/4 speed (the early 1990s),
- C8.3 300 Cummins 4 or 6 speed (the mid to late 1990s)
During the model year 1987, Foretravel introduced the Grand Villa Unihome (all mid-entry coaches) the first conventional motorhome to utilize a monocoque chassis design, an eight-bag outboard suspension system, and an air leveling system. This innovative design concept revolutionized the motorhome industry and quickly set the standard by which most quality motorhomes are built today.
U240s low-mid level came with the torsilastic [massive rubber suspension bands] and a Cat (various engines – 3208, 3116, and 3126). With the lighter coach and the smaller Cat – better mileage, 24,000 GVWR.
One way to tell which model you are looking at is by the outside compartment doors. The Grand Villa Unihome U240 doors were hinged at the top and the Grand Villa (non-Unihome) doors were hinged at the bottom. There were numerous other differences, but the compartment doors are a quick way to tell the difference from a quick glance from the outside.
U280s (next to highest in terms of accessories that were standard) came with the air suspension and a 300 hp Cummins C, 4 speed or 6 speed (depending on the year). Automated HWH 8 airbag suspension, came in 32′, 34′, and 36′ lengths, 28,000 GVWR.
Optional hydraulic retarder 6 speed is hard to find but VERY desirable. It was a 12K option back then, so whoever was buying had to really want it!
Aqua hot was also a desired option ($5K original, it can’t be added).
U300, top-of-the-line, came with the air suspension, wide-body, a DD 350 hp 6V92 (2 strokes, older technology but with Jake brake), and a 4 speed except in the final build (95/96) when they were available with a Cat 3176 and a 6 speed. 30,000 GVWR – 40′ length.
Build quality is excellent in all models. Walnut is the standard interior, pecan or oak are rarer options. If it has the Splendide washer/dryer you lose the bottom 1/2 of one side of the wardrobe. The 40 footer adds a lot more storage – important for full-timers, especially if you have the Splendide.
The ‘U’ series first appeared in 1988 as a designation to the Unihome body design but still was a GrandVilla. The Torsilastic “Velvet Ride” suspension came on both the U225 and U240 models. All coaches with Torsalistic suspension (U225 and U240) came from the factory with 15,000 springs.
- 440 Dodge
- 460 Ford
- 454 Chevy
- 460 Ford exclusively the last 5 or so years.
- Detroits: 8.2L turbo, 210 hp, 6V92 Silver Series, 300/350 hp DDEC
- Cats: 3116 ATAAC 250 hp, 3208T 250 hp, 3176 350 hp
- Cummins: B5.9 190 hp, 230 hp, C8.3 300 hp, 325 hp, ISC 350 hp, ISL 400 hp, M11 400 hp, 450 hp, ISM 450 hp, 500 hp, ISX 525 hp, 600 hp.
- MT 643, 647, 648
- AT 545
- B500, B500R (U300)
- HT746 (U300)
- World MD3060, 3060R, 4060, 4060R, MH3000R, 4000R
Models with jake brakes
- DD6V92 (U300), Cat3176 (U300) , M11 400 (U320)
Models available with retarders
- 1994 U240, U280 last 2 years, U300, U320
In 1991, Foretravel embarked on a mission of product and process improvement called the Total Quality Process, through which all Foretravel employees are involved with customer satisfaction and product and process improvement. This revolutionary process provides the tools people need to do their jobs better, by allowing and encouraging them to control the quality of their own work, and then holding them responsible for it. One result of this new attitude toward employees is an extremely low turnover rate, which enables Foretravel to produce a quality product more efficiently in a very labor-intensive industry.
1991-1995 Grand Villa Unihome U225 / U240
- U-240 (low-mid level, some had Oshkosh chassis with Torsilastic massive rubber suspension bands, (not airbag, jacks for leveling) 24,000 GVWR.
- Length: Both were 36′
- Chassis: Foretravel monocoque
- Engines: Cummins 5.9(230 hp) / Cat 3208T (250 hp) / Cat 3116 (250 hp)
- There were two different interior layouts: SBI and SBID. The “D” indicates a dinette on the passenger’s side just behind the entrance door vs a booth for two on the driver’s side just in front of the galley sink. The “D” layout has always been more popular.
- The big difference between the U225 and U240 is that the U225 has a 230 hp Cummins B engine with Allison hydraulic 4-speed transmission while the U240 has the 250 hp Caterpillar (650 lb-ft torque at 1650 RPM) and the Allison 6 speed.
The older Grandvilla was on a Gillig chassis with a side door. The U225 and U240s built in the 1990s were Unihome construction but did not have the high profile of the U280 and U300 series which had huge basement storage.
- Stainless Steel until 1990, was double stacked compared to U225 and U240.
- Plastic bumpers used in 1991 (1/4″ thick), unique to this year.
- Went to all fiberglass in 1992 (molded into front and rear caps)
The U225 and U240 coaches did not have the high profile of the U280 and the U300. The reason is that they did not have the air suspension. They had the torsilastic suspension, better than steel springs, but way inferior to air.
In 1992 Foretravel proudly introduced the luxurious 102″ wide-body Unihome and at the same time, celebrated their 25th year in business with the introduction of the Silver Anniversary Unihome U300. Easily identified by specially ordered angled side windows.
The 1992 U280 and U300s were the first FTs to have complete airbag (8 – 2 per axle on each side) suspension – i.e., no jacks at all, wide-body and low profile. The U300 is 40′ long and will, in some, have a 350 hp Detroit, a 350 CAT or a 300 Cummins. The U300 was considered the top-of-the-line in accessories, but many U280s had just about as much: compactor, vacuum cleaner built-in, separate ice machine, full oven with 4 burners, heat exchanger for hot water while driving.
1992 was the transition year between old generation Cat V8 3208 with 4 speed Allison and the newer inline 6 cylinder Cat 3116 with Allison 6 speed.
Most 1993 U240s and U280s had the MD3060 6 speed.
Nearly every year after that up until the advent of the Nimbus/Phenix there were Special Edition (SE) and/or Limited Edition models with special trim/option packages. Special Edition models were available in the U280s and U300s from (at least) 1993 on with different graphics and upscale (U300 interiors with more glass doors, Gaggenau cooktop) interiors. Since each coach could be custom designed or go back for upgrades, a lot of differences exist coach to coach).
From 1992 on most U280s and all U300s had inverters. Inverters were optional but were almost always included – inverters varied from Taytronics 1500 to Heart/Trace 2000/2500 watt models. Better designs/features each year.
Starting in 1995, Foretravels came standard with a Heart 2500W inverter incorporating a modern 3 stage 130 amp charger. As the standard batteries were maintenance-free gel cell the desulfating option is disabled.
U300, top-of-the-line, 30,000 GVWR – 40′ length, had the 350 hp Detroit Diesel; also was wide-body, airbags, etc.
Some of the early 1990 coaches came in 30′, 32′, 34′ and 36′ lengths.
- U280s came with a 250 Cat and 4-speed transmission (the early 1990s)
- C8.3 300 hp Cummins and 4 or 6-speed transmission (the mid to late 1990s)
The 1992 silver anniversary edition was probably the most unique.
It was the first 102″ wide coach and also the first to feature the walk-thru bath (WTB) floor plan. It too had special graphics. Silver and black. It was a beautiful coach and was only offered in 1992 as a 40 foot U300. The most interesting trivia on the 92 Silver Anniversary model was the custom angled windows. Every other Foretravel coach made had vertical side windows. The Anniversary model windows were angled forward.
In 1993 the SE (special edition) model was introduced, available as a U280 (some were 40′) or a U300 36′ or 40′. They had special exterior graphics, designer interiors with suede leather upholstery (usually), and walk-thru bath floor plans. The coaches were no different mechanically. They just had a few more features and trinkets the make them a SE. The graphics and floor plans are the most significant differences.
In 1994 both the U280 and U300 had the 6 speed Allison tranny with retarder.
In 1994 and 1995 the dual pane windows were optional.
In 1994 the all-new Foretravel Unicoach was introduced. With this new coach, Foretravel was able to integrate the high U performance, smooth ride, (the Foretravel Unicoach U270). and easy handling characteristics of the Unihome, but with massive bus styling, which provided greater interior space. The Unicoach quickly became Foretravel’s best-selling model.
In late 1994 and 1995, the U280 and U300 would have the 6 speed Allison and might even have the transmission retarder instead of a Jake brake or exhaust brake.
The only difference between U270 and U295 are features like bay doors, inside trim. Same engine, frame, suspension, tires, brakes, retarder, outside structure, dash, electrical, inverter, etc. Many features that are standard on the U295 are optional on U270. A lot of U270s are manufactured with these additional options.
Also, some important optional items were not standard on many models but should be looked for, like a “Joey Bed” in bay storage and window awnings.
In addition to the differences already noted, the U320 larger engine also gets you the larger, heavier-duty Allison, the MH4000 vs the MH3000. And this also means more braking action out of the retarder. Most U320s also have AquaHot instead of gas furnaces and hot water heater.
You could option a U295 to the level of a U320 most years, except for the engine. U295s were limited to 36′ and 40′ models, wherein later years you could get a U320 in a 42′. The U295 was not available with a tag axle.
From 1994 to 1996 a few models were optioned with the hydraulic retarder.
U300s came with 300/350 hp Detroit Diesel, 4speed retarder or jake brake.
In late 1994 to 1996, 350 hp 3176 Cat and 6-speed retarder were optional. Other than that, pretty much the same. Optional items on a U280 were standard on a U300.
Grand Villa is a body style (think sloped nose) and came out before the Unihome.
Unihome is a type of construction – unibody = monocoque.
Not all Grand Villas were Unihomes (ORED, OREG comes to mind). But all Unihomes were Grand Villas.
1995 was the only year the U240 was a wide-body (on the same narrow track axles).
1995 was the 1st year of the front door bus style, the name changed from Unihome to Unicoach, which started with the U270 (low end regarding standard accessories) which provided the Foretravel quality which consumers have come to expect, but in a more affordable coach.
U295 (Mid-level) and U320 (high end). The numbers also referred to the thousands of pounds of GVWR. The front axle weight rating (GAWR) + the rear axle weight rating (GAWR – rear) will determine the GVWR.
In the U225, you would often find a 230 hp Cummins engine with a 4 speed Allison (MT-643) transmission;
In the U240, it might have the 250 hp CAT with a 4 speed Allison (MT-643);
The U280 had the 300 hp Cummins (C 8.3) with the bigger 4 speed Allison (MT-647) transmission. The Allison Retarder and Aquahot were optional.
The U300 would have the Detroit diesel (350 hp) with the big Allison. The Allison Retarder and Aquahot were optional.
All 1995 model U320 models were SE models, with a C designation to further distinguish it as a Unicoach. The 1995 was perhaps the best Unihome ever built, but they began to reduce the amount of wood (eliminate wood panels from the walls – some prefer it that way).
Starting in 1995, Unicoach U270, U295, and U320 model numbers refer to standard factory trim levels/appointments and each model number was available in several different lengths and thus (logically) several different weight ratings, depending upon each year’s specific designs and options. The 1995 GV had a full-width hatch in front as access for dash AC while earlier GVs had two small hatches.
The 1995 and 1996 Grandvilla U300s were very desirable and came with 370 hp M11s uprated by Foretravel to 400 hp. (these were all Unihomes)
- Cat 3176 350 hp could be substituted by special order (these are rare).
- There were a very few U240s and 280s built in 1996.
- Rare and desirable Foretravels: 38 foot U320 with/without a tag.
- GV320 with tag, dual slides (last year only). U320 with a 3176 Cat, especially rare with retarder.
- U300 with a 3176 Cat (late 1994, all 1995). Especially rare with retarder. U280 with retarder (1994/1995, special order).
- U240 with retarder.
1996 did not come standard with double pane windows.
The 40′ has more space both inside and under than the 36′ but otherwise look pretty much the same. They are all well made and dependable.
1996 has a retarder switch that can be upgraded to a Joystick retarder for about $400. The joystick came in late 1996.
There were slight changes in engine styles and hp in those years as well. The 1996 Cummins is more mechanical, in later years they are Electronic.
In 1997: Ducted air, screen door and dual pane windows were added. It also has the bullet-proof mechanical (non-computerized) C engine with the maximum 325 horsepower. If it has a joystick, it will have a retarder. However, it may have a retarder without a joystick. The MD3060R Transmission (the R) indicates that the retarder is present.
From 1997 thru 2005 U270s came standard with rooftop ACs with Heat Strips, not Heat Pumps. Some U270s may have had Heat Pumps installed as options.
Models U270, U295 and U320 was the top of the line.
Its tank capacities exceed all but the newest high-end coaches of today:
- Diesel fuel capacity: 148 gals.
- Freshwater tank – 105 gals.
- Greywater tank – 110 gals, and black water 54 gals.
- A diesel generator was a 7.5 kW Onan.
1998 introduced the computerized Cummins ISC before that is was mechanical C, which most find problem-free.
The U270 and U295 used Cummins C, 8.3 liters, 325 hp engine,
The U320 used larger Cummins 11 liter, 450 hp engine.
1994-2000 Unicoach (U270/U295/U320)
- Lengths: 34′, 36′, 40′, 42′
- Chassis: Foretravel monocoque
- Engines: Cummins C8.3/M11 (some Cat 3176/3126)
- The U225 came with a 230 hp Cummins B engine (like the one in the Dodge pick up).
- It also came with the Allison 4 speed transmission. All are 36′.
The U240 is basically the same coach with a Cat 3116 250 hp/650 ft-lbs torque and Allison 6 speed. “U” refers to Unicoach with Unibody construction. These are all front door, bus style.
Model numbers over the years were: U225, U240, U270, U280, U295, U300, U320. The model number of older coaches use to refer to the GVW IE: 225 = 22,500 lb etc., but I do not apply to later models.
The last RB coach was produced in 1992. All the RB units are of course front engine. The advantage is a bath that spans the rear of the coach. Very nice.
In 1999: Ducted Air Conditioning w/(2) 13,500 btu Roof AlC w / Heat Pumps instead of Heat strips
Late 1999 introduces a slide out.
In 2001: introduces painted Foretravels as opposed to decals (optional).
In October 2001: introduces tag axels to 40′ U320 and GV 320.
In 2003: full body paint standard.
In 2004: introduces quad slide out.
In 2006: introduces Nimbus.
In 2007: introduces Phenix.
Foretravel and Oregon Motorcoach Center Enter Into Service Agreement
Foretravel, Inc, Nacogdoches, TX and Oregon Motorcoach Center, Eugene, OR has formed a service alliance. OMC, a premier service and remodeling center in the Pacific Northwest and Foretravel’s highly regarded factory service center in East Texas, has entered into a service agreement involving Country Coaches and Foretravels. Oregon Motorcoach Center will offer Foretravel Motorcade Club Members the same 10% parts and labor discount for service work as Foretravel does. And, Foretravel will also provide the same 10% Country Coach Club discount that the former Country Coach LLC offered its members.
OMC will also be a factory authorized warranty service center for Foretravel. OMC was started by Bob Lee three years ago to provide excellent service to its Country Coach owners after the manufacturer curtailed operations. Pat Mason and Ed Read, co-owners and longtime Country Coach senior officers recently visited Foretravel to better understand its manufacturing, service, parts and warranty processes. This service alliance will include an exchange of parts and technical support.
Note: Proof of club membership must be shown prior to commencing service work.
Bob Lee, Pat Mason, Ed Read
Oregon Motorcoach Center