• October 27, 2021

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 caravan was produced in more than 60 different models and styles of motorhomes.

Starting with the fairly small Toyota Chinook caravan and continuing with the larger of the Toyota-based 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 campers 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 some of the types of trim and finish details.

It wasn’t long before manufacturers began expanding the size of motorhome bodies. Using conventional fabrication techniques found in the travel trailer industry, the aluminum-clad rod and staple type of construction became the standard.

In the 1980s, Toyota motorhome production peaked. Many different companies were producing many different models. Some of the largest companies that were in this business were domestic 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 original 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 units available today that have the unsafe shaft. Caution is advised if you are looking at a 1980s version of this very popular caravan.

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

During its production lifespan, the Toyota motorhome enjoyed great popular success and was widely distributed throughout the country. Today, the largest number of units on the road appear to be concentrated in the east and west coast areas, but these RVs will appear almost anywhere in the country.

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