Toyota recalls the past with a retro-inspired motorhome

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The Toyota Tacoma-based Tacozilla is the retro camper you didn’t know you needed.


The American Auto Show, SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association), is known for its wild and whimsical creations, a cavalcade of automotive art that sometimes pushes the limits of engineering to the extreme limits of what’s possible.

Once the domain of custom workshops and post-marketing, SEMA has grown in stature over the years to the point that major car manufacturers are now lining up alongside restorations and hot-rodders clamoring for attention.

Not even the relatively conservative Toyota is immune to the allure of SEMA, with the Japanese automaker uncovering its delightfully retro camper, the Toyota Tacoma Tacozilla at this year’s show, held in Las Vegas.



Custom built specifically for SEMA, the Tacozilla was built by the Toyota Motorsport Garage in the United States. The design and construction was led by TMG’s Swords of Marty.

Inspired by the 1970s Toyota RV range, specifically the aftermarket Chinook, the Tacozilla is based on the Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport medium-sized pickup (the American equivalent of ours HiLux), although TRD (Toyota Racing Development, one of Toyota’s performance monikers) has added a lift kit, offering an additional two inches (51mm) of ground clearance.

The 17-inch TRD wheels are wrapped in heavy-duty General Grabber all-terrain tires, while all the features that make the Tacoma TRD Sport a bit special, like the flared wheel arches, stay in place.

But it’s at the rear where the big work has been done, with Toyota adding an RV to the Tacoma’s chassis that has been finished in a vintage orange, bronze and yellow livery. Inside, the camper is equipped with teak flooring, kitchen with hob and sink, bathroom with shower, television and retractable skylight. The kitchen features a 3D printed table that can be converted into a bed.

Other features include a front winch and a cool looking ladder at the rear to access the RV roof.

Schwerter’s design certainly pulls the strings of nostalgia that lives within each of us.



“Our goal was to build a vehicle that was designed correctly but also made to look really cool,” said Schwerter. “We didn’t really want it to look like a refrigerator in the back of a truck …”

Sadly, as interesting as the concept is, there are no plans to put the retro-inspired Tacozilla into production.

Rob Margeit has been an automotive journalist for over 20 years, covering both motorsport and the automotive industry. Rob joined CarAdvice in 2016 after a long career at Australian Consolidated Press. Rob covers automotive news and car reviews while also writing in-depth articles on historically significant cars and auto manufacturers. He also loves discovering dark models and researching their genesis and history.

Read more about Rob Margeit

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