The Toyota Mini Motorhome – A Quirky RV With A Strong Following
In the 1970’s and 80’s the RV boom hit America hard, and with it came motorhomes and camping trailers of all different shapes and sizes. Most people are familiar with the mammoth bus-based Winnebagos and pickup-truck mounted camper attachments, but few people remember that Toyota also got into the camping game in its own unique fashion. Unlike other major RV players who battled over maximum trailer length and interior square footage, Toyota decided to keep things small and compact. In doing so, they almost cornered the market on affordable and practical camping.
The Toyota Mini Motorhome first hit American roads in the mid-1970’s, and was based on a version of the Toyota Hilux compact pickup truck. In the U.S. this truck was given several imaginative names over the course of its lifetime – Truck, Compact Truck, Pickup Truck – before eventually becoming the Tacoma in the mid-90’s. A range of different four-cylinder engines were fitted to the Mini Motorhome Hilux’s, offering power ratings that hovered around the 100 horse mark for most of its production, and a V6 option available towards the end of its run bumped horsepower up to nearly 135 (shown above).
The combination of low engine output and the additional weight of an enclosed RV unit perched on the back of the Hilux didn’t exactly translate into a vehicle that set hearts and highways afire with its blazing speed. That being said, Toyota’s Mini Motorhome did offer enough motivation to get happy campers from point A to point B in a reasonable amount of time, and the vehicle enjoyed an unexpected popularity in an industry where size was almost always king. The Toyota’s fairly reasonable fuel mileage and easy to park and maneuver dimensions offered a different sort of RV experience that appealed to campers not necessarily interested in taking it all with them when they ventured out into the great outdoors.
Five main floor plans were offered with the Toyota Mini Motorhome, and the actual living compartments were built by a wide range of big-name RV companies under contract with Toyota. Coachman, Winnebago Industries and Chinook are some of the more recognizable figures involved in building the Mini Motorhome, while other organizations such as Dolphin, Huntsman and National also enjoyed popularity with buyers.
A number of Toyota Mini Motorhome clubs – both online and offline – flourish to this day, despite the original run of the vehicle ending in the early 90’s. The Toyota Mini Motorhome is a much more appealing option for downsized camping than similar efforts from Volkswagen from the same era, due to better reliability and ease of repair. Strange as it may see, the Toyota campers also enjoy a power advantage over their German campers.
Striking out on the road in one of these Toyota Mini Motorhomes is a fun way to not only see America, but also connect with a good group of people who enjoy both camping in and talking about their unique recreational vehicles.
*Special thanks to ToyotaMotorHomes.com for help with this article and for supplying the images you see.
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