Auto-Biography/QOTD: The Dodge Chinook Finally Drives Off – What Do You Miss The Most and Least of a Former Vehicle?

This should have happened a year ago, but you know how it is. I’ve been so engrossed with our new van, I rather forgot about the old Dodge Chinook moldering away in the lot behind our house (out of sight, out of mind). But I finally acted on it, and its found the right new owner. So I feel good about it leaving, especially since it made it to Tillamook, 140 miles away, without a hitch.

But then why not? We put 40k miles on it all over the western half of the US, and it only let us down once, and that was due to my stupidity (not carrying a ballast resistor). Happy trails!

I did have a minor issue about getting it running this time. It had been almost a year since the last time I started it up and took it for a drive, but it always chugs to life (with a plume of smoke) once gas gets to the dry carb. Not this time. Dry as a bone? Fuel pump bad? I just replaced it two years ago. No, it’s still got a good suck when I put my finger to it. Hmm.  Clogged fuel filter? That brought me to a stop on the way home from our last really big trip to Glacier. No, it’s still ok. Move on down the (gas) line. Aha! right where the line gets to the tank behind the rear axle, there’s a short rubber connecting piece, and its…whole upper half is missing. Some rodent must have liked the taste of it. Easy fix; got some in the garage.

And then it…started right up. A rented pressure washer took off the green sludge and accumulated grime. I cleared out the last of our things that had lived in its storage compartments, and replaced them with a few parts I had bought but never put on, most importantly a new heater blower motor. That was of course fully disclosed to the new buyer, as well as its other various issues.

The new owner is the father of a young woman who rents the little cottage behind our house and cleans our AirBnB unit, and he’s a very practical guy, who understood exactly what he was getting into. That was critical for me, because this old rig is going to require that from time to time. I sold it to him for about the same ($1200) I paid for it in 2002. I put maybe another $1200 into it. It was probably the cheapest 40k miles a motorhome ever cost.

Before he came to pick it up, I parked my Promaster in fornt of it at the curb to get a couple of comparison shots. There’s more than a few similarities, such as their loadspace interior lengths (12′), and interior headroom (about 6’3″), and overall length. The biggest difference is the wheelbase, which is 129″ for the Dodge and 159″ for the Promaster. The Chinook’s rear overhang was a problem a few times in rugged terrain, and I had to re-do the holding tank outlets as they hung too low. Even a driveway ramp was a problem before I improved that.

The Promaster has FWD, yet its turning circle is much better than the Dodge; it never fails to amaze me how tight it can turn. And its huge windshield and higher sitting position make the view out front absolutely superb. never mind the comfort of its seats and other amenities, like huge leg room and no intrusion into the cab from the engine; the little V6 sits down low in front of the axle line. That makes a world of difference. As does its almost 100% better fuel economy (19-21mpg vs. 10-11). And no more emptying that stinky blackwater tank. I’m so glad to be rid of that.

The giant windows in the Chinook will occasionally be missed, like when sitting at the beach on a windy day. But they created a lot of condensation on chilly nights.

The Chinook’s fiberglass body is of course a bit wider, but that’s turning out not to be an issue. The galley in the Promaster is much better configured, as are other aspects (a full detailed write up is coming after it’s completely finished).

What am I going to miss the least? Wondering if the 360 v8 will stall when I pull out into a highway or across an intersection. Or if the lights will all work, due to an aging electrical system. Or…

And what will I miss the most? Riding with the memories it made over the years. And the burble of the V8 when it was working hard up a mountain slope.

What do you miss the most and least of a former ride?


A more detailed write-up of our years with the Chinook is here.