The third-generation Toyota Hilux pickup (called the “Toyota Truck” in the United States) was a legend of reliability and frugality well into our current century, and plenty of small motorhomes were built on its sturdy platform. You’ll still see them occasionally today, but the skin-crawling ickiness of tenth-owner RVs tends to mean the end comes quickly when they wear out. Here’s one that took nearly 40 years to reach that point, now residing in The Final Campground: a self-service wrecking yard near Denver.
Back in the 1960s and 1970s, quite a few Midwestern RV manufacturers would take new Chevrolet Step-Vans and build them into motorhomes. Most spent productive decades ferrying retirees between Michigan and Florida, then settled into long-term retirement in driveways and dirt lots, serving as homes for many generations of raccoons, possums, and wasps.
Here’s a Kansas-built P20-series RV in the San Francisco Bay Area, giving up some of its components while awaiting the cold steel jaws of The Crusher.
In 2016, if you towed a camping trailer with anything other than a heavy-duty pickup, Mike Rowe and Denis Leary would take you out back and shoot you repeatedly with Blue Oval masculine marketing tripe.
But in 1974, if you were the proud owner of a Volkswagen Beetle, you could head off into the wilds confident in knowing that you and your loved ones would be safe sleeping in this fifth-wheel-style camper attached to the Teutonic compact’s roof.
It’s ingenious, and it needs to make a comeback.
After yesterday’s 1972 Mercury Junkyard Find, it makes sense— in some circles— to stick with model-year 1972 vehicles this week. With that in mind, here’s a very biohazardous second-gen Ford Econoline that I braved without benefit of a space suit. I’m pretty sure I didn’t catch hantavirus, scabies, or dioxin poisoning, but it’s still too early to know for sure.
This being Colorado, I see quite a few Volkswagen Vanagons on the street and in local wrecking yards. Mostly I ignore them for this series, because their local popularity means examples that show up at a Denver self-service yard get stripped immediately and aren’t very interesting photographic subjects. So far, we’ve seen just this exquisitely stereotype-reinforcing Steal Your Face Edition ’83, and that’s it prior to today’s find. An ordinary Vanagon with most of the parts gone, I’m not shooting it. A Vanagon Syncro (which I believe to be the most unwise money-pit available on four wheels or a Westfalia Camper, on the other hand, I’m always willing to photograph those rare birds. Here’s a squalid ’81 Westy that I found at a Denver yard last week.
Back in the Middle Malaise Era, most of the B-series Mazda pickups you saw in North America were badged as Ford Couriers, and of course we’ve found the occasional junkyard-dwelling Courier. Still, some Mazda-badged pickups were released into the wild, and the longbed version was known as the Sundowner. Here’s a very-much-of-its-time Sundowner in yellow with beige-and-brown tape stripes and red-and-brown rust, spotted at a Colorado self-serve yard earlier this week.