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1978 Toyota Chinook Is the Ultimate Go-Anywhere Camper Truck

Toyota isn't the first automaker you think of when talking about motorhomes, but the Japanese firm sold a few back in the day. And while they're smaller than the usual American RV, they offer more room than the footprint suggests.
1978 Toyota Chinook 12 photos
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Toyota offered three different models in the 1970s. There was the Dolphin, built by National RV, the big Sunrader, made in cooperation with Gardner-Pacific, and the Chinook. The latter was based on the second-gen Hilux truck and built in cooperation with a California company.

These truck-based campers were of the compact variety, but many of them were fitted with pop-tops that created a six-foot-high (1.82-meter) lounge. They're famous for their reliability and solid mileage, and they're easy and affordable to maintain. But many of them didn't survive through decades of abuse, and those that did require a lot of work.

If you're in the market for a Chinook, it's your lucky day. This example from 1978 is in excellent condition, packs a few upgrades, and it's waiting for a new owner on Craiglist. With only 43,000 miles (69,200 km) on the odo, it's being offered for $16,500. That's less than half the price of a modern Toyota Sienna minivan.

The truck looks fairly well on the outside. Aside from a few paint chips and minor signs of rust here and there, this Chinook is basically in mint condition, given its age and purpose. The same goes for the interior, which is equipped with everything you need to go on a long vacation.

It comes with a stove, fridge, and freezer that runs on electric power or propane, and a large bench seat that turns into a bed. There's a working sink and tap, a built-in toilet, and a built-in 10-gallon water tank. Some areas could use a bit of cleaning and maybe a restoration, but you can live in this thing as it is.

This motorhome draws juice from the 20R engine that Toyota offered in the second-generation Hilux truck. Being a 1978 model, the 2.2-liter four-cylinder was rated at 95 horsepower and 122 pound-feet (165 Nm) of torque back in the day. The owner says it features a rebuilt Weber carburetor, a new fuel pump, and a five-speed gearbox instead of the stock four-speed unit.

The truck also features a completely refurbished fridge, an upgraded stereo with amplifier and speakers, and a Bluetooth connection. It comes with brand-new tires with less than 100 miles on them and two new batteries. The seller also offers original documentation, including a Chinook owner's manual.

Ready for that long camping vacation you've been planning for 2021?

Editor's note: This article was not sponsored or supported by a third-party.


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