Marine & RVs

This Custom 1978 Toyota Chinook Is the Coolest Camper You Have Ever Seen

There are many killer campers out in the world these days. The custom camper scene has blown up into military-grade ballistic hulls, ground-penetrating radar, and all other sorts of over-built gadgetry. Don’t get me wrong, I love all of those sorts of things, and the super-tough monster rigs are awesome, but sometimes the simplicity of the old stuff is what we really need. This 1978 Toyota Chinook is just the camper for the job. It truly might be my favorite one I’ve ever seen. 

What is a Chinook?

The Toyota Class-C pickup campers left the factory as a pickup truck with a fiberglass and wood insulated box where the truck bed would otherwise be. The base of these rad RVs was essentially the un-killable Toyota Hilux. The Hilux is easily one of the coolest 4x4s in the galaxy. Before this Chinook that we are taking a look at today was rebuilt, it was a two-wheel-drive version with the original ‘70s camper box. 

original brochure for the Toyota Chinook | Toyota
Original brochure for the Toyota Chinook | Toyota

The remade Toyota Chinook

The current owner bought the camper in 1991. A diesel mechanic at the time, he set about completely restoring and converting the camper to a more modern spec and 4×4, according to Expedition Portal.  

1978 Toyota Chinook
1978 Toyota Chinook | Bring a Trailer, Glotag

Although this ‘78 Toyota Chinook looks somewhat close to a factory truck, it really is its own thing. The 4×4 conversion is one of a long list of notable upgrades. With the tall suspension, knobby tires, and four-wheel drive, this Chinook is a classy, vintage, go-anywhere, knock-around overlander. 

Technical specs and updates

According to Expedition Portal, this Toyota Chinook received a fresh frame, suspension, solid-front axel, and engine from a 1980 Toyota 4×4. The motor takin from the 1980 truck is a 20R 2.2-liter, inline-four engine is paired with a G52 five-speed manual transmission and dual-range transfer case. I’m telling you, this thing is tough. 

1978 Toyota Chinook | Bring a Trailer, Glotag
1978 Toyota Chinook | Bring a Trailer, Glotag

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This Toyota Chinook has custom bits and pieces like stars in the sky

This badass Toyota Chinook is covered head to toe with beautiful bits of functionality and detail that make the thing simply irresistible. The builder added a brush guard and fog lights to the front because come on now; it’s still an old truck. He went on to replace wheels and tires with more off-road appropriate fittings.

The truck received manual front lockers, a 3-inch lift, new rear shocks, and heavy-duty front and rear sway bars. The repairs and replacements don’t stop there. According to Expedition Portal, the Chinook also had the steering knuckle rebuilt in 2018, power windows, a custom center console, and all-new aftermarket gauges and tachometer. 

1978 Toyota Chinook | Bring a Trailer, Glotag
1978 Toyota Chinook | Bring a Trailer, Glotag

The pièce de résistance

For me, tasteful and cool custom upholstery can make all the difference in the restoration of a vehicle. The builder decided not to pull any punches and installed Recaro bucket seats and had them custom upholstered in perfectly fitting brown leather and corduroy with “Chinook” stitched on the backrest in a bring-red, Supraesque font. It is so damn cool. 

These campers will outlive the current camper van/motorhome/pull-behind camper fad that we are living in now. This overhauled 1978 Toyota Chinook is in a league of its own.

(Editor’s note) This Chinook was for sale on Bring a Trailer, but has recently sold for $49,000.