“Tacozilla” SEMA build nods at Toyota’s old-school Chinook camper


One look at the truck section at SEMA, or at an event like Overland Expo, and you’ll soon see that the 4×4 camper market is booming. People love to take their pickups camping and even a mid-size short bed can fit a pile of gear to make roughing it a lot less rough. To highlight the off-road prowess of its Tacoma pickup, and show off what’s possible with the country’s most popular mid-size truck, Toyota is building a custom camper that will debut at the upcoming 2021 SEMA show in Las Vegas. Toyota’s preview video of the build, dubbed “Tacozilla”, shows a stripped-down Tacoma TRD Sport with a manual transmission along with some design sketches and a rendering of what the completed build will look like.

As Toyota’s Marty Schwerter explains, this isn’t exactly new ground for the brand, as the Chinook camper from the ’70s and ’80s managed to pack a lot of living quarters into a tiny Toyota package. We’ve covered Chinooks before, particularly this one that sold on Bring a Trailer last year.

Unlike the Chinook, this new version doesn’t look like it will use a pop-up roof, opting instead for a sculpted camper that replaces the bed and includes a generous sleeping area over the cab. Toyota designers will have to be very efficient with the available space, as the short camper seems to have been designed with off-road departure angles in mind, allowing this overlander to scamper up trails and around obstacles. The rendering hints at some throwback graphics and the aggressive tread on the Cooper Discoverer tires suggests we’ll see some suspension work as well, but we’ll have to wait a bit to see the final result.

If you’re eager to see what Toyota comes up with for the rest of this ambitious build, you’re not alone. We’ll be sure to check in on the Toyota booth at SEMA when the show kicks off on November 2.

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