At $25,000, Is This 1974 Toyota Chinook a Good Deal?



The seller of today’s Nice Price or No Dice Chinook claims it to be the “cleanest, most original Toyota Chinook left on earth.” Let’s see if it will also clean up in our vote.

Due to its unpretentious appearance and lack of accessories, yesterday’s 1997 Saturn SW1 offered an extremely basic experience. At $3,900, it also offered a fairly basic price. That was good enough for most of you, earning the Saturn a stellar 80 percent Nice Price win.

If you’re at all familiar with Alton Brown, the creator, and host of the beloved cooking show, Good Eats, then you’ll likely know that he is averse to single-function tools, things he likes to call “uni-taskers.”

I think it’s a safe bet then, that Alton Brown would find today’s 1974 Toyota Chinook to his liking. That’s because it was positioned by its maker, Chinook International, as three vehicles in one: an economy car, station wagon, and motorhome. That makes it a true multitasker.

The Chinook was the brainchild of Gary Lukehart, son of Don Lukehart and co-founder with his father of Family Wagon Compact Equipment Company. The company started out by outfitting vans like the Corvair Greenbriar with camping accommodations, eventually transitioning to the building of camper conversions on full-sized van platforms. The gas crisis of the early ’70s cut demand for those larger campers and motorhomes leading the younger Lukehart to look for smaller, more fuel-efficient options.

The result was the Toyota Chinook. This was not just some rinky-dink aftermarket add-on either. The prototypes impressed Toyota U.S.A. execs sufficiently that they signed an agreement to supply Hilux chassis’ for the camper conversions and sell the finished products through Toyota’s U.S. dealer network. At the time, the five-year, multi-million dollar contract was the largest Toyota had signed with a U.S. contractor.

This first-year model is promoted by its seller to be in “incredible condition” and the pictures do seem to lend credence to that claim. It wears its original creamsicle paint with two-tone green and gold striping and carries a bull bar ahead of the grille. The pop-top, which allows full six-foot headroom when up, looks to be fully intact and functional.

According to the ad, this is a two-owner camper, with the first using it only sparingly and keeping it in enclosed storage when not out and about. The result is a meager 73,000 miles on the clock, which as we all know is nothing for the model’s stout Toyota mechanicals. Those include the standard 108 horsepower 18R four-cylinder and Toyota four-speed manual driving a live axle in back. With that combo, the Chinook is capable of highway mileage in the high 20s which is pretty good for anything that can sleep four and let you stand up inside.

The ad touts a number of maintenance items undertaken to keep the truck in tip-top condition and notes that receipts for all the work are available. Other updates include a re-configuring of the dinette/bed to make a larger sleeping area, however, the seller says that can be easily reverted to the original setup and will include the cushions to do so. Additionally, all the interior lights have been switched to modern LEDs.

Other accommodations in the camper include an icebox with an external drip-drain, a sink with a pump-action faucet, and a ton of cubbies for storage. There’s no cooktop nor any place to drop a deuce privately but either could be added by an eager home-away-from-homer. Everything else inside looks clean and tidy and ready for adventure.

Issues include a flaw in the fiberglass that the seller says was likely the result of a parking lot shunt and a leak in the sink that is claimed to just need an O-ring. If that were the case, it likely would have already been repaired. The title is clean and this being a Toyota of a certain age, it likely has about a million more miles ahead of it before anything major will go wrong. What might all that possibly be worth?

The seller seems to think it’s worth $25,000. That’s not chump change, but recall that this is three vehicles in one, so that works out to a more reasonable $8,333.33 per function.

What do you think, is this immaculately conceived Chinook a deal at that $25,000 asking? Or, should outdoorsy types seek another campsite at such a cost?

You decide!

Los Angeles, California, Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

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