Real Estate

The 20-year history of the Toyota motorhome

For almost 20 years, various manufacturers made the Toyota motorhome in various models. During its heyday, this little camper was made in over 60 different RV models and styles.

Beginning with the fairly small Toyota Chinook motorhome and continuing with Toyota’s larger Winnebago and Itasca models, the Toyota-based motorhome helped establish many manufacturers in the RV industry.

Due to the large number of manufacturers, it is not uncommon to see similar motorhomes and very different names. The small overall size had to limit the variety of floor plans available. This caused many of the manufacturers to build virtual duplicates that varied only in a few fit and finish details.

It didn’t take long for manufacturers to expand the size of caravan bodies. Using conventional manufacturing techniques found in the travel trailer industry, the aluminum clad rod and cleat type of construction became the standard.

In the 1980s, Toyota motorhome production reached its peak. Many different companies were producing many different models. Some of the biggest companies that were in this business were National RVs, the producers of the very popular Dolphin series. They also produced the Seabreeze models. At the same time, Winnebago was producing the luxury Brave, Warrior, and Itasca Spirit models.

Damen Corporation of Elkhart Indiana produces the Escaper motorhome, while Coachman produces the popular Coachman and Savanna models. Leisure Odyssey was building the Americana, Santa Cruz, and Laguna campers.

The Mini-Mirage was built by Mirage Industries, while the still very popular SunRader was built with a fiberglass body by Gardener Pacific.

By the late 1980s, the caravan’s body length had expanded to 22 feet. This caused a serious overload problem on the stock axle of the half-ton truck. The United States government issued a national security recall to correct the problem. Most models received a new one-ton axle. However, there are still some drives available today that have an insecure spindle. Caution is advised if you’re looking at the 1980 version of this very popular motor home.

In 1989, the V6 on the Toyota chassis appeared on the market. This power increase became very popular with camper owners and production continued until 1994, when Toyota stopped supplying camper van manufacturers with truck chassis for safety reasons. Winnebago produced some of the last V6 versions in 1994.

During its production life, the Toyota motorhome enjoyed great popular success and was widely distributed throughout the country. Today, the largest number of units on the road seem to be concentrated in the East and West Coast areas, but these RVs will appear just about anywhere in the country.

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