Spring Fever’mobile: 1978 Toyota Chinook

Spring fever is hitting hard here in the upper-Midwest. With a foot of fresh snow on the ground, I’m finding it hard to not dream about hitting the open road in something like this 1978 Toyota Chinook. This one can be found on Craigslist, or here on the CL archive, in Corona, California. The seller is asking $5,900. Our own David Frank found this l’il rig, thanks, David!

The left side of this Chinook is definitely the money shot, the right side isn’t quite as nice. It’s almost like the game where you try to find the six things that are wrong with the almost-identical photo next to it. I can’t find six things but three or four jump out at me. I wonder if they had a flat tire at speed, causing the damage in front of the right rear wheel?

The seller says that this is “a true barn find all original mom has past 2 years ago now dad is goin into to a retirement Community so i came up from texas to help him sale there home and this lil coach just to get all his stuff in order.” I’m assuming that the seats have been changed, I don’t know if red seats would have been in a brown interior? Although the carpet looks sort of red or faded red. This l’il rig has a 4-speed manual, according to the seller, although I think it may be a 5-speed? They have it listed as an automatic but a floor shifter is clearly visible.

The pop-up type camper is ingenious, it gives better MPG with the top lowered but still allows for good headroom with it up. But, it’s not as soundproof and with repeated operation and even wind storms things can get out of whack. If you’re camping in an area with mosquitoes you don’t want any rips in the canvas top at all. For any of you who have stayed in a tent or in a camper with a ripped screen you know what I’m talking about. The camping portion could have used a few more photos and since it’s now 40 years old you already know that it’ll need some sprucing up and updating.

But, there is an engine photo! Hallelujah! As you can see this is Toyota’s 20R 2.2L inline-four that would have had a different colored air cleaner.. and just under 100 hp. That camper on the back, even with the top portion being canvas and screen, isn’t light so a bit more power would have been nice. Do any of you have spring fever or are you one of the lucky bums who lives where there isn’t snow?


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  1. slw71962 Member

    One of my teachers back in high school in 1978 had one of these. Still cool.

  2. eggsalad

    I see a floor shift, but also only 2 pedals.

    • connbackroads

      I’m seeing three . . .

    • Evan

      There is a clutch master cylinder in the engine bay photo

  3. Beatnik Bedouin

    It is kind of confusing, as the shifter looks like a manual, but the brake pedal looks wider than the one used with a stick. If it is an auto, it’ll make for some simulated acceleration.

    Scotty, I wonder if someone damaged the right side while backing this rig up? It used to be a pretty common occurrence with RVs.

    Looks like just the special interest vehicle to take the family away for weekends.

  4. T.C.

    A little bit too much rear overhang for me, they could’ve set the diff a bit further back considering where someone might want to take this truck, especially off road and over forest tracks, etc.

    • Solosolo KEN TILLY Member

      Hi T.C. Yes, far too much overhang, especially for the South African authorities. The maximum overhang in SA is half the distance between the centre of the front wheel and the centre of the rear wheel.

  5. Twilcox

    I bought one identical in the late ‘80s from a used car lot. It had a fouled plug and was running on 3 cylinders so I got it for $300. I replaced the floor in the rear and all of the carpet throughout and we used it to camp central Florida. The overhang houses a porta potty where the door swings around to the galley and creates more room and a full wardrobe on the other side. I had a 4speed manual like this one with an exceptionally large brake pedal as shown. The rig was great for two and gave us poor newly weds many memories.

  6. Davey

    Love it. My son the mechanic says it’s the best powerplant Toyota ever made next to the 22r

  7. Ensign Pulver

    Working at a gas station in high school as a patroleum transfer engineer 2nd class (can’t pump your own in NJ!)…the owners uncle and aunt had one of these. They were both “big boned” folks and to this day I can’t figure out how they fit in the front, how they lived in the back, and how that little engine “could”.

    Like 1
  8. Rube Goldberg Member

    Sorry to hear about the “fever”. Too bad, ’round those parts, it isn’t until May, that the weather finally catches up with the fever. Again, perfect camper for the times. These “Schnooks” were very popular, probably the best mileage of all campers, high 20’s, this one looks well cared for, except they took that turn in the gas station too tight and hit an island. Oops,,it happens, no biggie, still a very nice unit. Without a 5 speed, better be happy with 55 mph, but with this, take the back roads, what’s the rush?

  9. John

    I’ve always had a soft spot for these but never managed to find one (a) close to Pennsylvania and (b) in reasonable condition when I was looking. This rig looks like it was well cared for, with the minor exception of those “oops” on passenger side. We now have a travel trailer that we really like and don’t really have space for even a smallish rig in addition to that, the truck, the wife’s car, and the tractor or kayak trailer. One or the other of those lives at the end of the property in its off season.

    Can’t tell for sure from the limited pics but it looks like this has single rear wheels. IIRC there was a Toyota recall for at least some of these conversions to convert to dual rear wheel.

    I don’t expect this will be for sale for too long.

  10. MDW66

    Isn’t that a reservior for the hydralic clutch next to the brake master cylinder.

  11. Dickie F

    On my bucket list appears a 6 month trip across the US with my 17 year old son – the vehicle of choice varies from year to year, but currently is a 454 powered ’55 Chevy, or one of these.

    Well, I do have 6 months ….

  12. Steve Cota

    If you look closely at the photo blown up, you can see the brake pedal over the top of the throttle. What you see plainly in the photo is the clutch pedal

  13. Doug

    If it’s only a 4 speed, Pick ‘n Pull has plenty of 5 speeds…..

  14. Dave Suton

    It’s a toyota base. So you’d be better off using it as a chicken coop, than attempting to drive it and think you’re going to get there

  15. Del

    Chinook made great RVs. Great value.

    Buy this now

  16. CharlieTheChinook

    We are selling our 1976 Toyota Chinook here in Raleigh NC.

    Like 1
    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      Charlie, if you are interested in selling the Chinook on Barn Finds, please check out how here

    • Michael Thompson

      Is this Chinook still available?

    • Bobby

      Do you still have the chinoock, i want one im in concord n.c. so not far at all

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