What happens if you take a 1970s Winnebago Chieftain and blend it with an unbranded eBay turbo and an LS swap? Answer: the fastest house you'll ever need
The Chieftain was a common sight on America's winding roads back when disco ruled the airwaves – a vehicle born from John Hanson, of Winnebago Industries. Yet, as iconic and comfortable as the Chieftain may have been, it was far from speedy. It was the size of a house, sure, but the retro RV also accelerated like one.
The original 440ci Chrysler V8 supplied with the Chieftain produced approximately 200hp through a sloshy three speed gearbox. The perfect combination for ensuring a gallon of gas was used every eight miles. The numbers of dreams. However, the boys at Sloppy Mechanics on YouTube clearly have a solution...
LS swaps have become everyone’s favourite past time activity of the last few years, and it seems that now it has been proven, with quite effective proof, that you can literally LS swap anything. Even an RV/Bungalow. The vehicle here has had it’s lethargic Chrysler engine discarded in favour of an LS with ‘Chinese turbo’ attached for some extra pizazz. The result? Approximately 600hp. In a Winnebago. With no brake upgrades. This is certainly one to watch:
A Bit About Winnebago
Established in 1958, Hanson set about taking full advantage of Americana's flabbergasting breadth of landscapes and put the county of Winnebago on the map through revolutionising the RV or motorhome industry. The town had fallen on tough times, and Hanson cooked up the recipe to help his community. Without realising, he eventually created a brand that was synonymous with the motorhome scene. The brand became an institution.
1966 was the first year of production for actual motorhomes versus the companies initial production of travel trailers, with vehicles becoming recognisable for their flying orange W signage typically painted down the sides of the vehicles, and in the 70’s through to the 80’s, the model names all being influenced by Native American tribes.
The vehicle seen here is one of the classics, with carpet thick enough to hide a body and in a colour that has to be seen to be fully understood, it has all the features of a small American home from the time period. Wood laminate being the pinnacle of sophistication, even the bathroom and toilet facilities were coloured to hide even the most obscene hints of ‘use’.
Despite bringing back too many memories of interior decoration from eras past, Winnebagos were known for having interior furnishings built by themselves to save costs, and as such the first models built in the late sixties were priced at nearly half what the competitors could offer.