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Toyota RV-1

Chinook/Trail Wagons, Inc.

RV, a division of Trail Wagons, was a family-owned and operated manufacturer of short-length, high-quality Class C B+) recreational vehicles, once “The Sports Car of Motorhomes” the company#039;s demise in 2005.

In 2013, the intellectual property of the Chinook brand, including the designs, templates, manufacturing molds and support equipment acquired by Phil Rizzio, of Wagon Trail RV in Las Vegas, and Creston RV in Kalispell, Montana. in the Class B market including selling and trading Class A, B, C, towables and diesel pusher Mr. Rizzio#039;s franchise is an exclusive for Airstream, Leisure Travel Pleasure-Way, and Dynamax RVs with to re-open a new production line of the Chinook RV in Junction City, by the end of the year.

The Early Years: A born in a garage

Most companies in the United States can their roots back to that originated in the minds of Time has shown the products created were usually and non-traditional in nature, but filled a for the American consumer.

First in 1938 by Sy and Rose Mair in County, California, Chinook was the oldest U.S. brand in the RV industry. Over the next years, the family-run business of Son, Inc. would to Union Gap, Washington they would build travel trailers, pickup and chassis mounts that on a one-ton cab chassis.

It was during the 1950s and 60s that the first motorhomes started appearing on the with some of the early looking like a cross a slide-in camper and a motorhome. Class C motorhomes were constructed on a truck chassis. ordered trucks without the bed and added their own creation, a that is essentially still today.

1963 Chinook Camp Coach

From top to 1969 Chinook Custom Coach, 1972 Chinook Camp Coach

Meanwhile, the spring of 1961 in San Jose, another RV business had its initial in a family home garage. Don Sr. an avid enthusiast of outdoor and fishing, was frustrated with the of mobile campers available on the Working at night in his garage his son Gary, who had a background in design and making, Mr. Lukehart converted a Corvair into a “mini van.” The first-time effort launch another family-run after a friendly bet was made a father and his sons. When would ask Don Lukehart where could get a camper just the one he had, a challenge was started they could actually more than six campers.

The would ultimately revolutionize the RV

The Lukehart family would up Family Wagon Compact Company to build and sell Chevrolet and Dodge vans custom-designed camper coaches. eldest son Don Lukehart, Jr. would his career as a schoolteacher and wrestling middle son Gary would be the designer of the units, while son Roger would handle the and sales of the family-owned business.

Hit Chinook Mobilodge Class A and Fifth Wheeler

Their firmly established after successes in building deluxe camp coaches, Mair Inc. developed into the Mobilodge Company as it looked expanding into the large RV market. Beginning in 1966, the introduced the Chinook 1400 mount, a cab over Class C built on a Dodge truck followed by the Chinook 2200 and Vista/Brougham, the company#039;s first – and – fully self-contained Class A

A 30 foot Fifth Wheeler with sleek, aerodynamically exterior contours that to wind currents, allowing the to track effortlessly was also to the company#039;s lineup. The Fifth was designed to be towed by Dodge#039;s or Club Cab, Standard 3/4 ton or Sportsman, GMC/Chevrolet#039;s Crew Standard 3/4 ton Pickup or Sportswagon, Standard 3/4 ton Pickup or Econoline Wagon or International#039;s Crew Cab or 3/4 ton Pickup. With each model year, the company was employing further use of fiberglass in the construction process.

The 1966 with ribbed aluminum and 1969 (bottom, with roof) Chinook Mobilodge A motorhome on a Dodge chassis

By a confluence of events would see major changes taking in Washington state#039;s RV manufacturing After Chinook Mobilodge had been merged and sold times, the Lukeharts took growing skills from to Yakima, Washington, the neighboring of Union Gap. By now, Lukehart had come on board as of the company, which at the time was by an investment group based in New City that took it

It was also at this time the of the first one-piece, all-fiberglass had been successfully designed for the Mobilodge#039;s 2500 Vista and Brougham motorhomes. Built on a special Dodge 1-ton a 159 inch wheelbase, or a Chevrolet with a 157 inch wheelbase, the curved lines and angles, the contour and low profile body quickly became evident customers and the RV manufacturing industry. Up then, most recreational were in the style of the Winnebago which epitomized most A units of the era; big, and boxy looking with all the coefficient properties of a brick. incorporation of fiberglass allowed for creative styling and flair in the Mobilodge that would the old-style ribbed aluminum traditionally found in the RV industry.

unique were the two models of the 2500 themselves. The 2500 was designed for traveling family-style, a wide-open floor plan for vacation living featuring an “Vistaramic” picture window in the compartment that matched the panoramic design of the crew Seating for three individuals was up front via a swivel driver#039;s and a two-place passenger seat. The living/dining room area in minutes into a bedroom comfortable sleep accommodations for up to adults via a double bed, a bed and two drop down bunk

The 2500 Brougham model was for couples on the go year round – a of today#039;s “fulltimers”. Additional and wardroom space was provided a fold out queen-size double bed a vanity table. The bed could be made up without obstructing through the bedroom compartment. features included a private with separate shower, counter top and built-in medicine Both models also a four burner range eye level oven, 7.5 cubic refrigerator/freezer and stainless steel sink. To accommodate guests in privacy, the adjoining four dinette converted into a bed.

1973 Chinook Vista, the last Class A RV by the Chinook Mobilodge Company

events a few years later and a world away would a major impact on the lifespan of the 2200 and 2500, which can be in the book, ” Mobile Mansions: Home Sweet Home on the ” by Douglas Keister (Gibbs Publisher 2006-03-03


Paperback) with the following on page 121:

“This Chinook Class A Mobilodge, by a massive 413-cubic inch gas engine, was manufactured at exactly the time, 1973. For years, had been guzzling fuel at an rate. In 1972, the average automobile got a mere 14.5 per gallon of gas. By the end of 1972, oil reserves were at a critical low and by the winter of 1973 there widespread brownouts. For most the real crisis came in 1973 when the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries severely reduced their oil which resulted in long at the gas stations or simply no gas at all. The cruelty came during the season when President refused to turn on the National Tree#039;s lights to save

Big things come in small Chinook Dodge Maxi-Van and Chevy Trail Wagon

back in California, the Lukehart#039;s Wagon Compact Equipment continued to expand, develop and the self-contained mini motorhome based on the growing popularity of vans. Beginning in 1970 designing a lightweight, yet strong roof extension that be attached at the roofline of a Dodge or Chevy G20 or G30 Trail Wagon, the partnered with Western Vehicles to create Chinook a division of Chinook Mobilodge, as the new nameplate for these luxury van that sold in the auto

These “B-vans”, phased in 1970 as 1971 models, radically different from the A-van models in response to requests. Wind resistance was which lowered noise and highway mileage; windshields made full length and replacing the old separate sheets of glass and the center windshield and the instrument panel, seats, and were brought upscale to or beat passenger cars.

In since some parts from passenger cars, the successfully marketed “Do it Yourself” kits for owners of previously Dodge, Ford or Chevy For DITY owners looking to their own vans into a mobile bedroom on wheels, the and popularity of these “drop in” including a spring-loaded fiberglass Top fueled these economy campers during the remainder of the and into the 1980s and mid-90s.

of a Legend: The Chinook 18 Plus

In Gary Lukehart designed would later turn an iconic RV legend: the Chinook 18 motorhome, forerunner to the present-day Concourse. Initially built on a Maxi-Van chassis, it would evolve and be refined over the three decades on the Chevy and van “cutaway” chassis, providing the with a recreational vehicle carried – at the time – the only guarantee in the RV industry for the original

Featuring a proprietary-designed single all-fiberglass shell, Arcticfoam signature forward-angled side (mathematically and scientifically known as a – a four-sided polygon with two of parallel sides) and sporting a and rakish looking “Racing paint pattern, the Chinook 18 would become a contemporary in the early 1970#039;s. The Chinook RV commitment to on-going improvements in and innovative engineering, along a strong emphasis on livability and as well as excellent customer lent itself well to a state-of-the-art mini motorhome. The custom-built their own cabinetry solid oak, and its paint and design work were in-house at its Yakima, Washington

Same nameplate, decades First generation 1971 18 Plus, Second generation Chinook Concourse 18+, and generation 1998 Chinook XL

In 1985, Lukehart moved from the Dodge Maxi-Van in favor of Ford and Chevrolet redesigning the Chinook 18 Plus the now familiar Chinook Concourse. second-generation (1985-1995) models on the Ford V-8 460 and Chevy G30 dual-axle and third-generation (1996-2006) models assembled on the one-ton Ford Triton and Chevy V-8 Vortec platforms, the present-day Chinook created and defined the just-right Class C brand for the Chinook RV: than a standard-sized van, yet than the typical cab-over C RVs featuring a streamlined and aerodynamic that foreshadowed today#039;s “B-Plus” mini-motorhome trend. The Concourse would earn the and eventually be marketed as “the two-person coach.”

Mini-RV on a budget: The Toyota-Chinook (Round Tripper/Gazelle/MPG)

With the of oil prices by OPEC, coupled high government spending due to the War and growing stagflation in the United the New York City investment behind the original Chinook Company brand name eventually pull out in 1975, the company idle after the manufacturing of the large Chinook and 2500 Mobilodges. By this Gary Lukehart would leave the company to form Wagons, Inc. in Yakima, to build Class B van campers.

before those events occur, the idea of a mini-pickup RV would originate across the in the land of the Rising Sun at Toyota.

For backyard mechanics had been the miniscule Toyota pickup an array of homebuilt campers from the time the truck in the U.S. in 1964. So it wasn’t when the company finally an agreement in September 1973 to the world’s first micro in the process: the Toyota-Chinook.

Based on learned and early successes their Do it Yourself kits for van Gary Lukehart and his Chinook team began to design a fiberglass shell that be built on a Datsun- or Toyota-powered truck chassis, starting in The effort was the result of two years of development between the two companies. at Toyota Motor Sales, Inc. and Chinook Mobilelodge liked what they saw and announced the signing of a five-year, agreement for the manufacture and marketing of vehicles in the U.S.

Under the signed by Takasuki Osuka, to the president of Toyota Motor U.S.A. Inc. and Richard Chinook chairman of the board, International – a wholly owned of Chinook Mobilelodge – would a compact motorhome utilizing a designed Toyota Hi-Lux cab and The new unit, initially called the Mini-Motorhome, would be sold by Toyota dealers.

The agreement was the to date that Toyota had signed with a U.S. It called for a minimum of 4,000 the first year with at both companies predicting as many as 10,000 would be

“This agreement represents step in Toyota#039;s program to U.S. jobs and ease the of payments problem by purchasing goods for Toyota distribution,” Iwao Kodaira, president of Motor Sales, U.S.A.

began in September 1973 at the Western plant in La Verne, with manufacturing plans for a gradual build up to more 300 units per month by December. The would be initially marketed in the part of the country with a retail price in the under range. The first vehicles actually shipped to dealers in Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska and and South Dakota. Additional would then be expanded to the and Far West, although contract called for construction of a second plant at an undetermined location to the remainder of the country.

The first Mini-Motorhome models sold in were built on a Toyota half-ton truck chassis, by Toyota#039;s 18R motor with a rear axle. It was designed the start to provide fuel and almost car-like handling. marketed as the Toyota Round the unit contained storage sink and water supply, ice dinette and sleeping for two adults and one or two children.

A 1976 Toyota-Chinook camper (left) and a 1975 transplant to a late-1990#039;s model 4×4 in their original paint

Although initial reviews and from buyers were some initial flaws uncovered with the early Toyota Round Tripper. on feedback and surveys conducted by companies, further refinements made to the production line. By the “Round Tripper” moniker was and simply referred to as the Toyota-Chinook. for new colors, many would not differences on the outside because the smooth lines and attractive of the #039;74 model were over into 1975. the big differences were on the inside – the hood, within the walls, the windows, under the sink and in the

Three noteworthy changes the 1975 model was the addition of a reinforced frame, frame-mounted bumper and the larger 20R cross-flow The frame added dimensional and durability to the entire vehicle, was a natural safety selling with Toyota dealers. The 2.2 liter 20R engine also the Toyota-Chinook the power to perform on the highway and in city traffic, either manual, or a newly automatic transmission.

The newly Toyota-Chinook sported an upgraded built specifically for RV use; the 101.7-inch wheelbase was stretched to 110 and equipped with an 8” ring and third member (AKA duty) and stouter tires, to the standard 7.5” rear on the earlier models. The larger took care of weight and issues and the Chinook team care of the rest. The coach fitted the diminutive chassis-mount with the sleek fiberglass that concealed an impressive of comforts without presenting a profile.

With a base of under $7995, the Toyota-Chinook was considered three vehicles in Economy car, station and motorhome. Featuring the legendary “R” series of powerplants, the Toyota – sometimes affectionately referred to by its as “The Toy”, “Toynook”, or “Little Chinook” – was one of the most recreational vehicles on the road the mid-70s, particularly with the California surf and action culture.

For starters, it offered fuel savings: up to an astounding 29 per gallon on the highway and 16 mpg in city despite meeting stringent emmission standards. For any type of RV with current powerplant few could match it, including the new B van conversions based on the diesel-powered chassis that manages mpg (albeit somewhat heavier a Toyota-Chinook).

It was also compact. Not 17 feet long and 77 inches (closed), the Toyota-Chinook offered a stainless steel two-burner gas stove, 2.3 cubic-foot icebox, a six-foot, eight-inch convertible dinette and sofa that into a full size An optional, pull-out extension for an bunk allowed for two small to sleep in the vehicle, once the pop-up top was unlatched – the design of owed much to the original tops seen in the full-size van Open, the coach boasted six of headroom for an adult – once – to stand up and move around the mini-camper; Closed, it offered a low which contributed to its car-like and fuel-saving economy, as well as a mounting location for roof to carry surfboards, kayaks or

Granted, it still had a few drawbacks. For it didn#039;t have an enclosed although a “porta-potty” toilet was now as an option. It also ran on DC power and the sink “drain” consisted of an fitting to which owners a hose leading to a container. it also was capable of traveling than 250 miles on a single of its 13.7-gallon gas tank, and could up to four people in a vehicle under 18 feet long.

A and custom modified 1976 4×4 Pop-up camper in its and opened positions

Unfortunately, of complaints regarding mechanical concerning the rear axle and were reported, due to the weight of the camper portion of the vehicle, they were built under the weight restrictions put on the by Toyota. More than the problem was due to the catchall phase error” as owners may have their vehicles for roadtrips. as testament to the mini-RV#039;s durability the standpoint of the pop-up fiberglass and 18R powerplant in the 1973-74 model followed by the 20R powerplant during the model years, many of unique vehicles still ply the 30+ years after their

In 1978, as the contract with had been fulfilled and Chinook was now their units for resale at Toyota and RV dealerships, Chinook using the Gazelle/MPG names to between the two virtually identical 1978 was also the last year for the Toyota-Chinooks, but because of dates, some were as a 1979 model, even they were built on a chassis. While the majority in service today sport original colors and 70#039;s-era others have been stripped down and were transferred to later model including a 4×4 chassis – was never originally offered by company – or rebuilt by their to suit their individual and personalities.

What IS That. and General Motors team up for The Big

Yet another joint venture place with Chinook this time with Motors in 1976-1977 which the Chalet and Casa Grande for the Chevrolet K5 Blazer and GMC Jimmy trucks. These rare campers for the 3/4 ton GM-built 4×4 are nicknamed “The Big #039;Nook” and considered the domestic U.S. to the Toyota Chinook due to their styling. Approximately 1,780 were built and sold: Chalets to 225 Casa Grandes. were not, however, on campers like other units, but permanently affixed The Blazer and Jimmy came off the production line as a regular and had the pop-up camper shell by the Chinook Western facility in Washington.

As with the Toyota the Chalet and Casa Grande a propane heater and stove, tank and sink, and either an or a refrigerator. Shelves, closets and a tabletop round out the furnishings. did not, however come a shower or toilet and were, in a home away from for a couple of people for the weekend.

just like the Toyota the Chalet and Casa Grande short-lived. Initial production was 100-150 units per month, up later, and averaged some 200 monthly overall. The trucks produced only for nine before quietly disappearing. are multiple theories to explain lackluster sales and legal among them.

The Chalet was at the time it was introduced, and some report that, as with brand-new models today, were paying sticker for them (i.e. no haggling the dealers took place.) the premium for the convenience of the camper may been a bitter pill for owners to swallow. While the Regular Production Options is as a nominal $895 option, the trucks almost invariably had the “Cheyenne” trim package and available option GM could on them, so they were more expensive than a Blazer. Also, given Western#039;s highly manual required for small-volume specialty such as the Chalet, the cost of was likely high enough to much room for margin.

It was reportedly rumored GM was forced to production of these units of axle/spring issues – the very rumored to have dogged the Chinook line. Other point out the truck was awful for a half-ton vehicle. The Department of may have noticed that the rear axle weight or perhaps the overall gross rating, was exceeded in practice by trucks (presumably GM would had to upgrade the suspension and/or equipment to be certified for the higher rating, which would driven costs up further). One goes that the DOT offered GM the of recalling all their trucks, or production with a “no fault, no rider; if the story is to be believed, GM this latter route and dropped the model.

However, the was GM discontinued manufacturing the Blazer and with a cutaway cab section, allowed for direct access the back of the Chalet or Casa Nevertheless, a good portion of Chalets and Jimmy Casa still on the road today been modified or upgraded by owners with either springs or air bag additions on the rear – or outright replacement on a newer Blazer chassis, just as Chinook owners have with their fiberglass

The campers were profiled in an 2009 issue of Hemmings News magazine. featuring a Blazer Chalet formerly by Russell Cook of Phoenix, and includes a brief write-up on one sold at the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale for $9,350.

A discussion forum for and enthusiasts of the Blazer Chalet or Casa Grande is available on the To date, approximately 75 members – of whom are known to currently own a Chalet or Jimmy Casa with a few owning two or more of rare and unique rigs – are the forum to trade information and tips, plus collect and an ever-growing series of photo Further information about rigs can also be found on the K5 Blazer Chalet web site.

of Transition: Close encounters of the kind

The Chinook moniker also become attached to notable RVs such as the short-lived Chinook Futura and its little the Toyota Chinook Newport or the Chinook Omega.

The “otherworldly” and 1978 Chinook Futura by “Close Encounters of the Third

According to Chinook#039;s advertising of the time. “There#039;s never a motorhome like the Futura! styling and innovative engineering you that this is not just motorhome. The Futura is beautifully from fiberglass and reinforced a steel safety cage. are three floor plans innovative ideas for ultimate

The Futura was definitely a departure the more streamlined Chinook 18 at least with regards to the and back ends. Built on a Maxi-Van dual axle with a V-8 440 cubic inch the Chinook Futura was longer, taller and heavier than a 18 Plus, owing to a protruding cab sleeping area that is the look of all Class C motorhomes. the angular shapes gave it an science fiction look, influenced from the Steven blockbuster, “Close Encounters of the Kind.”

The Toyota Chinook and its sister Omega model patterned in a similar fashion. an enlarged hardtop version of the Chinook Round Tripper/Gazelle/MPG, the Chinook Newport/Omega models their styling cues from the Chinook Futura.

The Toyota Chinook Newport vs. near-identical 1978 Toyota Omega

With “the of the 80#039;s today, designed and to meet the demands of tomorrow” . the and Omega models could four individuals with of storage and enough room to around in while in motion, the Toyota Chinook Round pop-up model. Although models offered such features as a “sunport”, commode and galley, perhaps the most aspect of the Newport/Omega was its angled and lower split-door arrangement, at the extreme rear passenger corner of the vehicle.

More two dozen nameplates, ranging Coachmen and Dolphin to Keystone, and Winnebago were ultimately to Toyota-chassis mini motorhomes the coach line finally out of favor in the early ’90s. As Toyota Chinook#039;s Round pop-up, the Newport/Omega#039;s days numbered as it suffered the same fate of rear axle largely due to growing weight The problem would eventually be with a larger, more designed rear axle in the to late-80#039;s and early #039;90#039;s. even though the chassis’ rating was improved to 5,500 many of the later entries really pushing the limit on What looked underpowered and quite often was. By Toyota exited the mini-pickup chassis business because of concerns due to the overweight issues and desire to go head-to-head with the U.S. domestic truck

Although Chinook#039;s marketing proclaimed that “Any motorhome just may be a compromise” . it the RV-buying public decided The Iranian Revolution sharply the price of oil around the world, to the 1979 energy crisis. was caused by the new regime in power in which exported oil at inconsistent and at a lower volume, forcing to go up. Tight monetary policy in the States to control inflation led to recession. The changes were largely because of inflation was carried over from the decade due to the 1973 oil crisis and the energy crisis. The production for the Chinook Futura and Newport/Omega quietly ended at the beginning of the leaving the newly reborn Concourse as the clear cut industry with its classic exterior and interior settings.

The Next a new name and a new facility

As the 70#039;s to an end, another move was by Gary Lukehart to spin off and with a new generation of Lukeharts at the For the first half of the 1980#039;s, had laid dormant after the end of the and GM partnerships until Lukehart the remnants of the original parent and its all-important brand name. By a new division was formed, taking its from one of Lukehart#039;s van conversions: the Trail Wagon.

Trail Inc. the new parent company of RV, was now under Gary Lukehart#039;s He eventually began to focus on redeveloping and improving upon the 18 Plus mini motorhome. its fabled one-piece fiberglass which Lukehart had designed on the staff at Chinook Mobilodge, would now spend the next two refining the renamed Chinook into a high-end Class C at their main factory in Washington. Depending on options in built-to-order models, up to 900 labor-hours eventually go into the construction of motorhome, nearly twice the of time any other manufacturer devote to an RV.

At the same time, Wagons, Inc./Chinook RV would marketing their Do it Yourself van in favor of expanding their B van conversion business at a separate on land purchased by Lukehart in California between Sacramento and San Located in Solano County Interstates I-80 and I-680 in the area known as Cordelia near the city of Fairfield, the Wagons, Inc./Chinook RV van conversion would be operated by two of Gary nephews.

Tim and Hugh Lukehart the sons of Don Lukehart, Jr. who chose to a school teacher and wrestling at the start of Family Wagon Equipment Company. After on their uncle Gary#039;s line in Yakima during college years learning the business alongside Lukehart#039;s son their cousin, the next of Lukeharts would start to out a complete line of “Van weekend campers suitable for any RV budget.

From left to 1986 Chinook Runabout, Chinook Voyager and 1994 Trail Wagon Class B

Over the next decade, Wagons, Inc./Chinook RV would see the of many popular series of ft. Van Motorhomes with nameplates Aspen, Buccaneer, Cruiser, Runabout, Trek, Viking, Classic and Voyager. In many the designs and quality of workmanship put these van conversions by the Lukehart#039;s many of today#039;s Canadian B van conversion manufacturers, most the PleasureWay, LeisureTime and Town and RoadTrek 170, 190 and 210 series of

Storm warning amid and expansion

By 1993, hampered by sales caused by an economic attributed to the first Gulf War in the line of Class B van conversions either closed out or consolidated to the facility. However, rather relocate to Yakima, Hugh and Tim opted to stay with original Fairfield location the expanded 10.5 acre van facility was sold in 1994 to Bay Auto Auction. After out a portion of storefront space the original Trail Wagons, RV building, they would Sierra Truck and Van and eventually back the rest of the facility, built a strong customer as a factory direct Weatherguard serving the northern California

Meanwhile, the Class C production in Yakima, which had been both the Ford Econoline and Van chassis with V-8 powerplants for the Concourse, would transition to the Ford Econoline E350 In 1994, to help weather the recession, the company would the Chinook Premier, a lower-cost with lesser features in the work, a smaller refrigerator, stove and squared off standard

Eventually, as the economy improved in the the Chinook production line in 1997 after Ford Company discontinued their V-8 460 and moved to the more fuel Ford V-10 Triton on the Econoline cutaway van platform. At the of a new millenium, a third model be added that went in the direction of the scaled-down Premier: the Baja 4×4. A glitzy, Coast-style 4-wheel-drive all-terrain the Baja was built using the Concourse fiberglass shell. additional off-road additions appealed to the growing Sports Vehicle crowds, the Baja lots of media attention in the years of the company#039;s operation.

to right: 2004 Chinook 2004 Chinook Premier and Chinook Baja 4×4

would mark the height of RV#039;s success, as the company hit the “sweet spot” by producing finest model years on Helping them along be new marketing technology provided by an presence at (NOTE: archived PDF file). Potential could view and decide various models and floorplans, from a choice of interior and wood grains, decide features and locate a dealer for a motorhome suited to their or personalities.

Left to right: 2004 Destiny and 2004 Chinook

Entering the 21st Century, a new called the Chinook Destiny was to the lineup in 2001. Essentially a version of the Concourse, the 24 foot Destiny was built on a Chevy C30 Van chassis featuring the V-8 Vortec The three extra feet in allowed for a more spacious at the rear of the unit, albeit a “wet” variety in which the and commode were incorporated the shower area. A multi-drawer larger clothing cabinet and storage area for the spare of the “Continental” tire kit used on the rounded out the major differences the two. A lower-cost version of the with the lesser quality modeled off of the Premier (including the squared off windows) followed a of years later and was marketed as the Cascade.

Left to right: Chinook Glacier and 2004 Summit

As the national RV industry into the marketplace with units in Class A motorhomes, the began expending company toward creating the first units to be offered in a Class C The end result added the 25 foot Chinook Glacier to the 2003 that for the first time also feature a full-size bathroom with separate It was closely followed by the 27 foot Chinook Summit in 2004 featured two slideouts. Both were built on Ford Company#039;s heavy-duty Econoline van chassis.

Chinook prices vary, according to year, model type and built-to-order accessory packages. Choices from custom exterior patterns to specially-branded models the Harley Davidson special Chinook Concourse. Chinooks commanded top dollar in the RV market for its size. Average costs from $73,000 to $128,000 for the Concourse and Destiny models, all the way up to to $203,000 for the Chinook Glacier and Chinook Summit 2700 models during the latter of the company#039;s operation. Building up 42 across North America exports to Europe, the Middle and South America, Chinook RV a reputation and international recognition as one of the manufacturers of mini motorhomes in the

The reviews are in: Chinook delivers a speed record, fun, and adventure. for a price

On August 16, history was made as the world#039;s motorhome would set a land record on the powdery Bonneville Flats in Utah. Sanctioned by the California Racing Association, a and specially-modified Chinook Concourse, in a bright orange racing pattern and sporting an air scoop on its rumbled down the three course with Dan Lukehart at the

The Chinook team reportedly had to out more than just the sink; most of the Concourse had gutted out, from the air conditioner to the sofa, dinette stove, refrigerator, cabinets, wet and holding tanks. In its place, a built roll cage was in the driver#039;s cab as Dan Lukehart would to a recorded 99.776 miles per in three minutes time to the old record of 97.613 mph, set May 16, by a 26-foot, 4-1/2 ton, Toronado-powered Travoy, built by Motor Coach Company of San Calif. at El Mirage Dry Lake,

The Chinook#039;s LSR was set at a density altitude of feet. Adjusting to sea level the would have been 108

“We are extremely pleased with the and we have learned a great from this project. a cross wind of 15 mph, the proved very stable at 100 mph and was what we wanted to prove – a motorhome, if manufactured correctly, and on the platform, can be extremely safe at any said Charles McGhee, president of sales at Trailwagons, “We could have gone said Dan Lukehart, “but the V-10#039;s computer could not itself to the altitude and we were with a very rich Unfortunately, we did not have the electronic to make the necessary adjustments.”

Lukehart would break his own with the assistance of a Banks System in the Chinook Concourse, it to an all-time top speed of 114 mph – a feat had not been matched or broken in a decade#039;s time [Editor#039;s There#039;s debate over a Sources tuned GMC Transmode – not a true motorhome, since it as a Command Post for the Tampa Department. It was powered by a 454 V-8 setting a of 102.76 mph at Bonneville on Sept. 14, However, both records clearly broken in 2010 by a Car motorhome, tuned by Goldschmitt and by an economical 2.3-litre Multijet with an innovative gas-diesel – reaching more than (124 miles/hour). Hymer and have obtained approval for a attempt in spring 2011 on the track in Papenburg, Northern to make it into the Guinness of Records with a symbolic of 230km/h from standstill exactly 1000 metres – for the title of the fastest motorhome, and 30km/h is an extra one for every of the Goldschmitt company.

“While the record and engine are indeed there is a significant difference the Concourse and this rig,” Duncan Fowler, a Chinook RV “The Concourse is significantly bulkier and I suspect heavier this (vehicle that the) record.”

2004 Baja 4×4

Not to be outdone, in the company entered a new, Chinook Baja featuring a 4×4 all-wheel drive in the Alcan 5000 Winter a grueling 4,500-mile road Starting out in Seattle, Washington the Yukon Territory of Canada, the traveled all the way up to Prudhoe Bay, a tiny town on the edge of the Ocean. From there, entrants returned south to to finish the nine-day rally.

Dan who succeeded his father Gary to the company#039;s president in 1996, was the Chinook Baja 4×4 could live up to its design and do so under extreme weather and conditions. The company actually two Chinooks in the Rally; the primary named the “Saka-Tumi” and a back-up, as “Eagle Eye.” A third Baja, called the “Black acted as a support vehicle. Out of a of 24 entrants which included vehicles, all-wheel-drive vehicles, and trucks, the “Saka-Tumi” Chinook piloted by Dan Lukehart finished won the Pirelli Sportsmanship Award, won the Class of the Rally and achieved perfect scores in one of the timed events – not bad for a 12,000 pound

“We did it to prove that Chinooks just motorhomes and shouldn’t be as being only for old people,” said.

According to a 2005 of Trail Wagons, Inc./Chinook RV in FMC the official publication of the Family Coach Association, a look at the of those clients quickly a common denominator: 60 percent of owners were motorhome who had downsized from large, Class A luxury units. owners enjoyed the luxury lifestyle for a number of years and to continue traveling, but needed to do so in a they felt was more to navigate. At the same time, owners didn’t want to the quality and luxury to which had grown accustomed to. The Chinook was able to successfully identify niche and responded accordingly in marketing campaigns.

Dan Lukehart tells the story of a customer who a paper cup full of coffee on the bumper of his new Chinook Concourse C motorhome and drove off. he got home,” Lukehart relates, cup was still sitting on the bumper coffee in it.” That speaks volumes for the manufacturers of one-piece molded fiberglass motorhomes.

“We don’t have any priorities other than the most sound motorhome Lukehart said. “It’s to do it that way, but that is makes us a niche. Not everybody can everything that we build.”

customers expect quality and features from Chinook RV, manufactured about 450 mini annually.

“We’ve failed at an economy model,” Lukehart “That’s what controls our completely. There’s not an employee who could build a midline I’ve been asked to do hundreds of times, and I ask how? time we try to do it, every time we try to something out, somebody (in Chinook management) puts it in.”

Chinook emphasizes the of its one-piece molded fiberglass

“Our molds provide as a finish as you have on any car,” said. “The whole involves as many as eight to 10 of fiberglass at the end of the process. It’s 3 or 4 thick at some points. We a lot of the openings, and we don’t have any doors. All that does with having to install and caulking. Because it’s one it has a lot of strength. It has no weak points and it a solid ride.”

Chinook 4×4 crossing stream

words RV and Adventure are sometimes seen as mutually exclusive. true that RV adventure many forms, from heading across a county to wandering the far-flung backwoods off the track, and each person a different level of adventure as fun. The Baja edition (4×4) Chinook Class C is one of motorhomes that makes the wildest kinds of RV adventure The Chinook RV division of Trail Inc. Yakima, Washington, has building motorhomes for more 40 years. Top-quality assembly and amenities are hallmarks of the Chinook, is referred to by the company as #039;the car of RVs.#039; Compact size and a drivetrain contribute to sports-car-like performance compared to a full-size but the Chinook is also laden the typical sports car#039;s storage and human-space size Many sports cars cheap either, and a buyer has to exactly what the Chinook offers. Price aside, the edition has a lot to offer the adventure-seeking RV with an eye on a smaller motorhome. is not a coach for sneaking around and a low profile. Chinook motorhomes are and eye-catching in standard two-wheel (2WD), and the cosmetic and functional that come with the package make this a motorhome to miss as it trundles the pike. But it#039;s not all looks. has used the Baja edition to in the grueling wintertime Alaska rally with excellent The 4×4 conversion that a solid front axle, springs and a manual-shift transfer with low range is added by one of Ford-approved aftermarket upfitters by Chinook. Off pavement, the Chinook like any serious 4×4 should. Our test drive a California state-maintained off-pavement recreation trail that#039;s treacherous in spots. We growled our way up slopes with loose and rutted surfaces, and the Baja happily moved ahead anything we were brave to tackle.” –Sept. 14, 2002 Magazine review

Even today, used still retain relatively resell prices in comparison to manufacturers#039; Class A, B, B+ or C recreational of the same model year. For the 1998-2001 model year Concourse or “budget” Chinook can be found on eBay and Craigslist a low of $20,000 up to $40,000+ price depending on condition and mileage. The model years of 2002-2006 for the Glacier and Summit can still be with asking prices from $65,000 to $95,000 (or on and .

Celebration, Downfall and The End of the Trail(Wagons).

The brand, billed as “the car of motorhomes,” celebrated its 40th in 2001. At the time, the future bright for Trail Wagons, RV as the company included the recreational assembly plant and Chinook Park owned by the elder Lukehart, who had established himself as a businessman and developer in Yakima. innovating, Chinook had built and macho-style off-road Class Cs, included a mini motorhome the look of GM’s Hummer.

a front-appearance package with a H2 nose on a Chevy cutaway Dan Lukehart said. “We’re not that it’s a Hummer, but it was fun to do. what it’s all about; it up and make it look nice.”

however, were able to see the clouds gathering on the horizon for the the Chinook brand and the RV industry as a

For starters, Stuart LaMarr, vice president and Charles vice president of sales for Wagons Inc. left the to form the startup LaMarr Coach, Inc. in 2000. a 43,000-square-foot factory in Pasco, with a staff of 10 people, in 2000, they introduced the an unusual 36-foot fifth-wheel trailer featuring a molded exterior and boasting a suspension that allows the body to be to ground level when

Looking to reinvent themselves again, Trail Wagons, RV received a low-interest loan of million in 2003. The money was a by the U.S. Housing and Urban agency to the city of Yakima, in turn made the HUD funds to Gary Lukehart for expansion of his Wagons, Inc./Chinook RV production At the same time, Trail Inc./Chinook RV made the switch fiberglass to all-composite shells and for their Class C motorhomes, to Composites World magazine.

1971, the company had manufactured molded fiberglass shells of gel coat, ceramic shield and a polyester skin laminate plywood-stiffening panels. But in 2002, it to a lightweight sandwich construction a vinyl ester resin recommended by Eastman Chemical Co. of Tennessee. Composites World reported the composite shells are from well below to 110 degrees to prevent blistering and

“After just one year of the new shells, the results have astounding. None of the new RVs have a single stress crack,” Jeff Gaskell, Chinook’s division manager.

The composite used for Chinook’s 21- and 24-foot are gel-coated and include 0.5-inch-thick PVC structural foam from Inc. of Desoto, Texas. For 25- and 27-foot models, Gaskell to reduce floor weight to exceeding the chassis’ gross weight rating (GVWR). of using laminated 1.5-inch with polyester resin/glass-laminated the company switched to a new floor featuring sandwich construction.

of quadraxial glass fabric Vectorply of Phenix City, are layered in a flat mold on sides of DIAB balsa that came pre-cut to Then, 16 gallons of Eastman’s ester resin are used to an entire vacuum-bagged 25-foot optimizing the glass-to-resin ratio, waste from overspray and in 15 percent resin savings. The is ready for demolding after two hours and reduces styrene nearly 100 percent.

“The has reduced the floor weight by 35 and increased compression, tensile and strength by 300 percent, enabling us to motorhome size,” Gaskell told the magazine. Trail Inc./Chinook RV planned to vacuum-infuse as well as experiment with light resin transfer to replace open molding for parts, such as storage doors, running boards and components.

2004 Chinook 4×4 “concept” RV with towable trailer

At the 2004 RV show in Kentucky, Trail Inc./Chinook RV showcased the Chinook concept RV. It was the company#039;s most rollout to date on a Class C created by Trail Wagons, RV and theWinchester Repeating Arms manufacturer of the fabled Winchester 1873 rifle, commonly as the “Gun That Won the West.” with a Wild West that included cowboys and and Winchester shell casings, the Winchester was a one-of-a-kind, custom-built RV, the of which had not been seen in a C motorhome. Commanding a manufacturer#039;s retail price of $177,785 a freight delivery charge of the two companies reportedly put in over worth of documented upgrades, and above the base price of a Chinook Baja built on a E-450 chassis.

Although the retail price for the Chinook concept RV redefined the phrase, Shock” for RV owners, the list was Banks performance system, front and back IWC anti-sway full 4×4 conversion the authority of Ford Motor oversized tires on all aluminum diamond plate underbody onboard air compressor, GSM (military .) house batteries, a 12,000 lb. control Warren winch, heated seats, all upgraded interior, authentic Corian with Moen faucet, carbon fiber dash/front accents, heated holding tile and carpeted floor, safe, flat screen TV Bose surround sound, maple custom cabinets black ebony inlay and 30-30 brass shell inlays, custom solid back lighted gun rack, brass shell casing molded inside stool granite coat shower, and color matched front and bumpers, in-dash Sirius radio, eight full-size lights, custom full paint with custom accents and Winchester logos.

Wagons, Inc./Chinook RV also two new “entry level” models to lineup: the Chinook Eagle and the Chinook Maverick 2400. The was a 21 foot, rear-door unit utilized the same fiberglass design as the Chinook Premier. The was a 24 foot, side-door unit shared roughly the same shell lineage as the Chinook making the Chinook brand a Class C manufacturer. The Eagle and were marketed as lower products that complimented the traditional high end offerings, dealers and customers a choice in and value. According to company Chinook management felt to add these new models in order to with a growing market of B+ and Class C RVs that included House, R-Vision Trail-lite, Forest River and Winnebago

The company was essentially adopting an old strategy used by the major in Detroit, according to Frank A. a reporter and car reviewer covering the industry for the Scripps Howard Service.

“The idea is to a new (vehicle) and then give it identities. That, as the theory broadens the appeal and results in sales,” Aukofer explained. Ford Taurus and Mercury Plymouth Voyager and Dodge and any number of General Motors In the 1980#039;s GM sold its compact through all five divisions: Cavalier, Pontiac 2000, Firenza, Buick Skyhawk and Cimarron.

According to Aukofer, the engineering practice fell out of in recent years, maybe consumers wised up and decided wanted their cars to be individuals instead of fraternal triplets or even quintuplets.

In for Trail Wagons, Inc./Chinook RV, the turned out to be a strategic mistake.

one year later, faced a changing recreational vehicle coupled with skyrocketing costs, declining real values and business deals bad, the warning lights blinking at the family-run business. By 2005, Trail Wagons, had suspended production of its Baja with aftermarket four-wheel and converted its 24-foot Maverick C motorhome from the Chevy V-8 chassis to a Ford E-450 Duty chassis, allowing for a new

The layout was equipped with a dry to help bring the coach in at a base price of $95,000. The which previously featured a wet and rear-door floorplan, debuted fanfare in January. At the September RV and Camping Show in Hershey, Chinook RV rolled out an upgraded featuring hardwood cabinets, roof air conditioning, a larger bed and separate dinette.

“We wanted a that was capable of handling a younger family of four,” John Chelist, eastern sales manager for Trail Inc./Chinook RV. “We’ve gone with Ford because it a better ride and it has a 305-hp V10

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By now, Gary Lukehart had to the helm of the company that the Chinook Concourse he originally He replaced his son Dan as company president, who had in attempts to sell the company to since January 2005, to the Yakima Herald-Republic.

A high-profile who built a Marriott Fairfield Inn in Yakima, Gary Lukehart had plans in 2004 for Vineyard#039;s an open-air shopping center to be next to the hotel. One year as Trail Wagons, Inc./Chinook RV the land for Vineyard#039;s Gate was bare. Lukehart, who also as chairman of the Yakima Valley and Convention Bureau and was also the “Welcome to Yakima, the Palm of Washington” sign on Interstate 82 as of a promotional plan to bring business into Yakima. One that Lukehart was reorganizing his was the sale of his Gateway Center plaza for $17.5 million, to county property transfer However, Trail Wagons, RV was considered his biggest economic success because it paid jobs and appeared to be riding the of the RV boom.

Unfortunately, noticable in the overall quality, craftsmanship, to detail, and Chinook#039;s all-important customer service could not be by RV owners.

Sales plummeted overnight. Rumors ran rampant as RV owners searched for answers were not forthcoming from representatives. E-mails were on the Chinook RV Club discussion as some regional managers to paint a positive picture of in the works to find additional to help shore up funding and the company. Eventually, the painful set in near the end of 2005 when Wagons, Inc. was forced to operations, lay off its staff, liquidate its assets and shutter the recreational assembly plant and Chinook Park in Yakima.

Part of the for Trail Wagons, Inc./Chinook RV its doors has been attributed to Dan mismanagement of the company and ultimately themselves out of the RV market after stiff competition from manufacturers like Coach Two such examples were the BT Cruiser and R-Vision Trail-lite undercut the Chinook brand by amenities like a larger, bathroom with more storage space within the length vehicle. What appealed to former and potential owners were significant savings between the BT Cruiser and – often times at half the – which justified for some their reasons for putting up a much more boxier and lower quality workmanship.

Twin sons of different . 1992 Mallard Sprint on a chassis (left) vs. 1994 Premier on a Ford chassis

have said Chinook its brand “identity” when (by Chinook owner#039;s standards) Eagle and Maverick models introduced with standard, side windows and lower wood cabinetry, which the Chinook line and made look like any of the also-rans were now flooding the market, as the virtually identical-looking Mallard

Others didn#039;t particularly for the wild and outlandish “Millenium”, or “Lazer” custom paint preferring the earlier “Racing livery. Rumors abounded of a deal struck between Wagons, Inc./Chinook RV and Coach Inc. A few key Trail Wagons, RV employees eventually moved Yakima to join the Nokomis, company, which by 2001 had manufacturing their own patented fiberglass shell for the Platinum of Class C RVs built on the same Econoline E-350 chassis. The has since followed up with the Platinum II models on the diesel-powered Sprinter chassis in recent

Comparison of the Chinook Concourse in the Stripe” design (1998-2001) vs. the “Millenium/Infinity/Lazer” paint schemes

Whatever the real reasons, Wagons began downsizing in 2005.

According to court Trail Wagons, Inc./Chinook RV making payments in May, and on mortgage certificates held by Stanley Dean Witter Inc. in June, still $3.6 million in principal interest and penalties. A few Ford van conversion chassis were on the production lot when Trail Properties defaulted on the loan, a judge to remove Gary from control in mid-October and put the company into receivership, to a story published in the Yakima newspaper.

Wells Fargo was the original lender to Trail Properties, but the loan was later to investors. Their trustee, Bank National Association of sought the receivership to protect assets. Although the receiver, Partners of Bend, Oregon control of the Chinook Business on behalf of LaSalle Bank, didn#039;t have the authority to the business because receivership is not However, according to the judge’s it did have direct management of the property and employees, along bank accounts and other The $2.4 million balance on the received from HUD was expected to be to HUD once the property was sold.

A ditch effort for the company’s by its employees was attempted in a March 7, letter from office Carolyn McMurry to Chinook that was obtained by the Yakima According to lawyers for debtors of the a foreclosure sale of the property by had been set for March 24.

“We have a few potential buyers, but if something happen soon, I am not sure if can survive,” McMurry wrote in the McMurry said the company, stopped production the previous thought it had a committed buyer in February but the deal fell In contacting Chinook customers, said the intent “is to get the right to see the true value of the Chinook and why it is so important to continue this

The newspaper reported that RV customers felt they left in the dark and don’t whether their warranties for work would be honored.

Poulsen of Arlington, Texas, president of membership for the Chinook Club, said in an e-mail: like to see it once again itself as a viable ongoing to serve us with one of the finest ever developed for serious Many have felt a bit in that no news was provided the company prior to the receivership. our faith has been jeopardized as as our warranties.”

Nevertheless, it was not to be as time ran out for Wagons Inc. on March 31, when the company was unable to a foreclosure sale of its land and The property, including a 110,000-square-foot plant in two buildings, sold for million on the steps of the Yakima Courthouse. The only bidder was Default Services, a collections representing the Chicago-based trustee for the mortgage lender, LaSalle

Trail Wagons, Inc. once employed more 162 people, had numerous judgments it in Yakima County Superior according to the newspaper.

A former manager of Trail Wagons, RV said in filed court that he was let go in March 2005, the fact the company still him money. “The financial of Trail Wagons has been a sad and thing for many employees and families, including my family,” Paul Comisky, former president and general manager in a 2005 letter to an attorney for Carpet, one of the creditors at the time. In his Comisky said he used funds to make payroll in 2004.

The Trail Wagons, lot at its manufacturing facility, once of Ford cutaway van chassis, was emptied and the company was “not in an mode,” according to Michael the city of Yakima#039;s economic and affairs specialist. However, contacted by the trade paper for a story at approximately the same as the Yakima Herald-Republic report, an representative from Trail Inc./Chinook RV said “the is going through a sale and is not in declining further comment.

On 16, 2006, more than 100 showed up for an opportunity to bid on everything upholstery to machinery at the defunct Wagons, Inc./Chinook RV plant. The Herald-Republic reported the bidders “owners seeking parts for RVs and others who bought manufacturing for RV businesses,” according to Ron Hannon, an for James G. Murphy Inc. the which ran the auction for Trail Inc./Chinook RV. “They are getting he said.

Julie Murphy, CFO of the firm, said she did not know Trail Wagons, Inc./Chinook RV do with the auction’s proceeds.

By the former creditors for the now-defunct had filed suit with the District Court in Yakima former owners Gary and Lukehart. The Yakima Herald-Republic that Ford Credit, a lending division of the Ford Company, was seeking $872,975 interest for a loan that truck-chassis purchases used on the once-popular Chinook RV production

In court papers, Ford said it filed suit several failed attempts to the situation with the couple.

By 2007, Gary and Mary were able to avoid action by making a settlement their former creditor. to Mark Watson, a Yakima representing the Dearborn, Michigan the Lukeharts agreed to pay an undisclosed to Ford Credit. The total was for nearly $3.7 million, but was when the company received from the July 2006 of Trail Wagons, Inc./Chinook RV tooling and supplies after it had down in August 2005. The recreational vehicle production was eventually sold off in mid-2007 and into a Coca-Cola distribution

In a strange twist of fate, Manufacturing Ltd.. a truck builder, relocated from British Columbia to Yakima. The purchased two buildings totaling square feet not far from the site of the now-defunct Western RV Western RV, a high-end motorhome which had partnered with in the early years, had also forced to lay off 220 workers after a recapitalization effort with Capital Partners, L.P. in 2006. The company wound up down its Union Gap plant for in April 2007. With relocation to Yakima, the company was to hire some of those laborers by the holidays. According to several of its key management personnel worked for Western RV and Trail Inc./Chinook RV, including:

• Dave director of product development and Frampton has 18 years management and recently held a similar with Western RV.

• Jeff director of operations. Gaskell has light/medium industrial manufacturing since 1978, with in the consumer, commercial, and military He held a similar position the last eight years Trail Wagons Inc./Chinook RV.

• Morgan, director of sales and Morgan has 25 years experience in marketing and customer service to the vehicle industry at both the and retail level. He most served in a similar capacity Western RV.

• Bill Hahn, of purchasing and warranty. Hahn has than 25 years experience supply chain management in the manufactured housing, and recreational industries. He recently held the of purchasing manager with Wagons Inc./Chinook RV.

Postscript: Old refuse to die (or fade away)

A 1979 Chinook Concourse on a MB300 chassis

Years the company#039;s demise, the Chinook RV remains a recognizable icon on the today. Numerous variants and years are still in service and maintained by their dedicated – some of whom have more than one over the of years when they built.

Chinook#039;s original to ongoing improvements in quality and engineering, with a strong on livability and comfort is customer years after the company#039;s The results of those efforts can be on roads today with the of three generational series of the 18 Plus and Chinook Concourse, from 1971 to 2006, and by many as the ultimate two-person that still has few equals The same can also be said for the Chevy BlazerChalet, GMC Jimmy Grande and numerous versions of van built at the former Trail Inc./Chinook RV facility in Fairfield,

Chinook RVs earned a well-deserved and obtained international recognition as one of the manufacturers of mini motorhomes in the With the handling of a luxury performance of a sports car and all the comforts of the popular Chinook Concourse C (Class B+) RV provided less fatigue and was ready to enjoy its owner arrived at their Owners claimed it just fit and good to drive – 7#039;7” 9#039;11” high, 21#039;long – and be parked and driven like a van or utility vehicle, except all the appliances and capacities of larger

The one-piece molded fiberglass provided for an aerodynamic design, equaled better fuel provided less chance for leaks, was easier to clean and and was more stable in adverse conditions, providing durability, integrity and safety that was to none. The Arctic foam used throughout the floor, and ceiling was an innovation at the time, for that just right of comfort in either warm or climates. According to Trail Inc./Chinook RV, it was the right way to ensure insulation in an RV. It also offered a lifetime guarantee on the Chinook#039;s fiberglass exterior body included a 3 year/36,000 mile and Chinook warranties and 24-hour assistance to the first-time owner.

Chinook RV celebrated over 40 of manufacturing quality motorhomes, a achievement in an RV industry undergoing a retrenchment as larger name continue to file for Chapter 11 or cease operations all together. other company#039;s recreational have long left the and head to salvage yard Trail Wagons, Inc./Chinook RV long-term products with a resale value enjoyed by to the present day. Featuring and passenger side air bags, antilock brakes – the highest of safety available in RV#039;s – the Chinook class of mini fully met all FMVSS, CMVSS,CSA, QVM and RIVA standards.

An iconic model (1998) Chinook in Redwood City, Calif.

on the construction of our Chinook#039;s primary I think it#039;s safe to say without any real new annual into the Class C market, a period of time, the Chinook, House and Isata would be the primary remaining [quality still standing. All will or later achieve Corvette status,” stated George H. an ardent Chinook RV owner and who has shared his knowledge with in the interest of promoting quality RV adventures.

“I wish I had the cash and the lot to buy up good condition Chinook and store them for just a few I would possibly have far sales and service than the new and a lot less value to lose in the run,” Poulsen added. of like the #039;Previously-owned programs#039; of Besides, all of us who bought them new served to capitalize the long-term of value for our own little industry.”

are currently two active Chinook RV in existence. Both actively a discussion board, hold rallys for Chinook RV owners and quarterly newsletters for their The East Coast-based Chinook Club featuring the Trailblazer and the West Coast-based Chinook RV which offers The Roadrunner Discussion boards supported by owners of the Toyota-Chinook, Chevy Chalet and GMC Jimmy Casa continue to thrive today.

And is the persistant report the Chinook RV can be reborn once again.

In a 2011 phone conversation the now 75-year-old Gary Lukehart, the manufacturing jigs and equipment are kept in storage on his ranch in “until a time when the may improve and someone may decide to an investment to bring Chinook

Only time will

BREAKING NEWS: The rebirth of a (aka The RV with Nine

During the early evening of Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013, the “RV came alive with a of short, cryptic messages on Group#039;s Chinook RV Owners and discussion board .

According to owner Dave Shehane of Linn, Oregon, Phil owner of Wagon Trail RV in Las Nevada and Creston RV in Kalispell, has purchased, “the rights, fixtures, etc.” (essentially, left from the old Trailwagons RV operation in Yakima, Washington) and is to restart production. Mr. Rizzio’s manager is John Chelist, a national sales representative for and Pleasure-Way before becoming manager of Van City in St. Louis.

talk of a new Chinook RV production opening could occur as as summer 2013. The first new are expected to be built on Ford#039;s van cutaway Econoline E-450 to be possibly followed later year on the new Ford Transit .

Ford’s Transit commercial originally a European design, is the big of an emerging family of commercial – not to be confused with the Transit Wagon and Transit Connect which are smaller, lighter-duty and cargo-movers. The new vehicle was developed by as part of a new generation of global vans under the company#039;s Ford” product strategy for in Europe, North America and world markets.

The first Transits are scheduled to roll off Claycomo assembly plant in City, Missouri which is undergoing a $1.1 billion to build the new platform alongside the F-150 truck line. will be introduced to the North market in four model three roof heights, body lengths and two wheelbases. new Transit platforms will a 25 percent increase in fuel through a choice of alternative capability (CNG or LPG) and engine selections: the standard V-6, the same 3.5-liter V-6 engine proven in the Ford truck line and an all-new, five cylinder, 3.2-liter Stroke Diesel option. The will go on sale in fall replacing the company’s famed E-Series nameplate that was built in 1961. Ford discontinue the E series van in 2014 or but will continue making the E Series cutaway chassis.

no official statement was made support of existing Chinook RV built on the Ford E-Series, C30 or even Toyota light platforms, further details promised to be forthcoming as to when and the phoenix-like rebirth of the legendary RV take place.

The following a new posting hit the Chinook RV discussion considered an official confirmation of the good news:

Re: New Chinook Mon Jan 28, 2013 4:09 pm (PST) by: “Wagon Trail Rv” chinookmotorcoach

To all forgive me for not posting yet we have extremely busy at the dealership I have two thriving dealerships and at we just don#039;t have personnel to go around. Please free to see what it is we do at our websites We are one of the few that only specialize in B RVs.

I know this is shocking and exciting news for and we will get you up to speed I promise.

We too are at the bit, but it will take to get everything in order to get production however we have the most part accomplished. The purchase Trail Wagons is complete to the Name, molds, drawings and

This in itself has been a to organize and get resolved. So now we can look to the next steps of getting a ready and scheduled to open. We not decided on a location positively yet but we two locations that are looking promising.

I thank everyone for interest and support of the finest RV to come. We are very excited and wait to say we are ready to take This is all just getting off the so keep checking in and we will you updated as we get closer to settling in our new

Phil R. Wagon Trail RV

As of 2013, the new venture began ahead. The first prototype is an Glacier model which is due to off the production line in December. will be the Concourse, followed by an 24 foot model on a Mercedes

The new Chinooks are reportedly being at the Country Coach plant in City, Oregon near via a joint agreement between Trail RVs and Country Coach as it from corporate bankruptcy. Ron president/CEO and original founder of Coach Corporation has taken the bankrupt assets with a team of employees with 400 years of Country Coach experience and tribal knowledge. It is in the parts and upgrade business for prior coaches. Trail RV is projected to start taking of the all new Chinook line by the beginning of

The legend continues…

A sneak at The New Chinook

On March 29, 2014, Chelist, former national representative with Trailwagons, and general manager of Wagon RV, visited the West coast RV Club#039;s annual rally at Nevada to show off a prototype of the Chinook built after a hiatus. Reportedly built at the Coach Corporation#039;s facility in City, Oregon, the prototype is an and refreshed version of the 25-foot utilizing the original fiberglass by Trailwagons on the latest Ford commercial van cutaway chassis.

As any prototype, not all features and/or have been finalized. Trail RV intends to show the over the next several to get feedback from current owners and potential customers to what items need to be before going into production. Some items already been identified corrected Chinook brand font, dining table too awning should be full television should be name cabinets above the sofa to open with slide etc.). All in all, however, the reaction from current owners is the prototype is a stunning of the fabled “sports car of motor

“The finishes are in line Chinook quality,” stated Shehane, moderator of the Chinook RV discussion board. “The new are beautiful, the upgraded electronics and are nicely incorporated, the LED lighting is and myriad of large and small are impressive.”

According to Chelist, Trail RV hopes to build as as 35 Glaciers in the first full year while also work on the first Concourse possibly on the E-450 chassis. for the Glacier model has not yet been but is probably in the $200,000 range. also reported the mileage he driving the prototype from to Nevada was around 12.5 MPG – if that holds true, is a improvement in Ford#039;s new 360 hp V-10 The company is also expecting performance from the planned spring” suspension, which be incorporated on all follow-on units.

To see a of the prototype Chinook Glacier, the New Chinook Photo Gallery

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