Chinook had been one of the top names in motorhomes since its debut as Mair & Son, Inc. back in 1938. However, it was not until the early 1950s that mass produced motorhomes started hitting the road, only proving that Chinook RV has consistently been an innovative leader in the motorhome industry, which stayed true throughout the years and again with the 1966 Chinook 1400. With the incorporation of fiberglass, Chinook was able to be one of the first companies to create a sleek and aerodynamic design; making Chinook one of the most sought after brands.
Due to Chinook’s success with the 1400, they began to further their use of fiberglass throughout the overall construction process. In 1971, the first one-piece all fiberglass shell had been successfully developed for the Chinook Mobilodge’s 2500 Vista and 2500 Brougham motorhomes. The sleek body style revolutionized the entire RV industry and had customers trading in their boxy, gas guzzlers for the beautiful aerodynamic design.
Chinook impressed the world with two very different models. The 2500 Vista offered an open floorplan perfect for traveling with the family. The motorhome could sleep up to five adults with the multi-purpose living area that converted into a bedroom within minutes. The 2500 Brougham model led the other spectrum of RVers, couples always on the go. This luxury model included a private bathroom with a separate shower, fold-out Queen sized double bed, a stainless steel double sink and so much more. Unfortunately, a few years later, the economy hit a rough patch and America began experiencing a fuel crisis that negatively impacted Chinook’s 2200 and 2500 models.
Chinook’s unparalleled innovation set a tone in the market as the best brand in the nation for decades. In 2004, the Chinook Baja won the Pirelli Sportsmanship Award, the Dalton Class of the Rally and achieved five perfect scores in one of the timed speed-distance events. However, no one stays at the top forever. The Great Recession in America hit hard and Chinook RV was forced to end production in 2005. By the following year, the doors were officially closed.
In a phone conversation in February 2011 with Chinook’s then owner Gary Lukehart, he stated the original manufacturing jigs and equipment were being kept in storage on his ranch in Yakima, “until a time when the economy may improve and someone may decide to make an investment to bring Chinook back.” Luckily, his patience paid off when he received a call from a man in Las Vegas. The online community of Chinook owners felt the ground shake as news broke that the rebirth of the brand was in progress. Phil Rizzio, the owner of several large U.S. dealerships, purchased most everything from Lukehart and took over the process of resurrecting the brand in 2013. After three years of hard work and dedication, the Chinook RV legacy was reborn.
Most recently, Chinook RV purchased Riverside Travel Trailer in Peru, Indiana to carry on the production of RPM, DREAM and other Riverside former models. At RVX 2019, Chinook also debuted the Trail Wagon, an automotive-styled constructed toyhauler that pairs perfectly with owners’ RVs.