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Overlanding is already cool. It doesn’t matter if you do it in a Toyota Tundra or a Honda Civic; it’s always cool. However, the cool-itude gets cranked up when you introduce boxy SUVs. And they simply don’t get boxier than the GMC Jimmy. Taking it a step further, there is even a Jimmy camper made briefly. The coolest way to overland is in the GMC Jimmy Casa Grande. 

GMC Jimmy Casa Grande parked next to some water
GMC Jimmy Casa Grande | Images Courtesy of Mecum

What is the coolest vintage camper SUV? 

It’s hard to say which is the coolest. The Toyota Chinook is up there. Although it’s not an SUV by most standards, you can’t talk about cool factory campers without mentioning the 4×4 VW Syncro vans. But even cooler still is the GMC Jimmy Casa Grande. 

Not only is this massive square camper extremely cool, but they are also insanely rare. Before the late’70s, RVs and 4x4s had blossomed in popularity, but separately. By the late ’70s, there were several 4×4 models like the K5 Blazer that got the overlanding upfitter treatment. 

As noted by MotorTrend, at the height of this trend, GM finally got involved with the Chevrolet K5 Blazer Chalet and, although extremely similar, the coolest of the bunch, the GMC Jimmy Casa Grande. 

What is the GMC Jimmy Casa Grande? 

GMC Jimmy Camper
GMC Jimmy Casa Grande | Images Courtesy of Mecum

The Jimmy and the K5 Blazer are essentially the same truck. However, there is a major distinction between the Jimmy Casa Grande and the Blazer Chalet. Unlike the K5 Chalet, the Casa Grande’s fiberglass camper shell was a permanent installation. MotorTrend says the old saying goes, “Once you Casa Grande’d a Jimmy, you never go back.”

Like Toyota, GM worked with Chinook to design the camper shell. Although Jimmys weren’t expensive vehicles, the Casa Grande ran from $10,000 to $13,000. This was nearly double the MSRP for the truck without the camper mod. The MSRP was the only thing the camper shell doubled; it also has extremely cool double taillights. Dang, this thing rules. 

The Casa Grande uses the pop-top design. The reason for this choice was to keep the center of gravity as low as possible for off-roading. The cabin is open to the driver and passenger seat like a traditional camper van. The Casa Grande came in four different trims. Although there was some variety, the differences were basically upgraded interior goodies and more sleeping surfaces. 

How much does a GMC Jimmy Casa Grande cost? 

Casa Grande Interior
GMC Jimmy Casa Grande interior | Images Courtesy of Mecum

The one we see here is one of the more upgraded versions, and it is heading to a Mecum Auction on July 8, 2022. Easily the coolest upgrade this one has is the incredible graphics echoing GM’s style from that time. 

Only 225 Casa Grandes were ever made, according to MoorTrend. Given the current popularity of vintage SUVs and overlanding and campers, we won’t be surprised to find this example selling for a pretty penny. 


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