“My friend Anjel says she wants to paint your Chinook! You’d like her, she rides a Ducati to work and when she unzips her riding suit she’ll have a dress on underneath!” This from my close pal Camille, who I’d just picked up from her apprenticeship at Olive-Route. Camille went on to explain that while I’d been on the phone waiting for her, Anjel had come out to take a look. She thought it would be a cool project to work on, as she’d just taken an auto-body class.

I couldn’t believe my luck. Sure, it was love at first sight when I saw the Chinook, but partly because I could see passed the 1976 veneer to what could be- a much hotter little earlier-vintage-styled number. And in spite of the fact that I have painted the interior and exterior of my house, have ripped up carpets, sanded and installed floors, installed a toilet and sink, made furniture, roto-tilled soil, smashed and removed concrete- you name it, with my own hands- I did not have the bandwidth to take on a first-time do-it-yourself project alone with all that I had to do to get ready for my road trip. At best I was hoping to do it along the way or get a sponsor to do it.

But I didn’t have to, and the Chinook would be better for it! After a few email exchanges and meeting in person, it was clear that Camille was right, that I had the perfect partner in crime- someone who shared my love of rat rods, and had the skills to transform the Chinook. And the cool surprise? Anjel and her husband Connal write a travel blog! They’ve had some pretty fantastic adventures like traveling the world for over a year, clocking many of those miles on their motorcycles. Checkout their site 35 Summers to learn what they’ve done and about the foundation they’re starting- it’s amazing.

And what became of the Chinook is pretty darn amazing too!

Here are some photos of the process:

Anjel and I suited up and ready to go (photo by Connal Hughes)-

Anjel using an eraser to get rid of the trim line-

Sanding, and removing the raised Chinook logo (photo by Connal Hughes)-

A little Nevr-Dull on the hubcaps makes ‘em shine-

A wire brush drill bit removes sharp peeling chrome-

Anjel carefully taping off lines for the stripes-

Starting to paint the grates-

I stuck to the prep and rims and let Anjel handle the expert stuff. Doing the primer-

Finally- Paint! My goal? Make it match my lips ;)

Um, yeah, I may have slept in this strange creature that night-

Ready for some before and after magic??

Cheers! That’s victory wine in there…we should have worn dresses!

Amazing right? I’m so grateful to Anjel for volunteering her time and skills, to Connal for helping so much behind the scenes, and to Via and Chris for lending us their driveway…for days…and for meeting new friends to share traveling adventures with. Thanks to them, I can take my road trip in style. And to think, it only took a couple hundred bucks, some sweat and a few days…and Anjel’s mad skills. What do you think? Like it? Ready to hire Anjel to pimp your ride? To tackle your own DIY project? Now just wait til I get my hands on the interior… ;)

92 Responses to “Power Tools and Lipstick- The Chinook Gets a DIY Makeover”

Comments (92)
  1. This is amazing and such a great make over to help you go on your way in style with new friends and new outfit for you home.

  2. Now that is a stylin’ ride!! Very cool looking!

  3. Wow what a change! Well done ;)

  4. First, that is an amazing paint job. Second, I can’t believe you painted it yourself! I never would have. Congrats. I love it.

  5. And, does it match your lipstick? Fabulous job and when I read what else you have done with your very own hands I’m totally in awe. Soo cool and stylish.

    • yes madam inka, it does match my lipstick! :) yeah, these hands have earned some calluses, but get such satisfaction out of transforming things myself! glad you who are so glamorous thinks the chinook is stylish!

  6. Glad to see the making-of my ride #1! So glad to kick-start Grand Canadian Hitchhike in such an amazing ride! Hope you’re well Lorna x

    • thanks dylan! right! you only saw the after! was so great to pick you up hitchhiking ;) hope the trip is going swimmingly! x :)

  7. Was really hoping for a helicopter when I saw this blog post title…;) Looks awesome, nice job!

    • thanks so much! ha! yes- a chinook is an RV, a helicopter, a salmon, native american tribe, and a north-easterly breeze! who knew! appreciate the kind words :)

  8. I love your updated ride…can’t wait to see the inside!

    • thanks marsha! can’t wait to overhaul the inside! you can see before interior pics in my “cute + green = creen…” post if you’re interested. stay tuned to “after” on that! :)

  9. Looks amazing! I can’t wait to see what you do to the interior.

  10. It looks excellent, you did a great job. Congratulations!

  11. Good job! Nice colors! looks a bit lika an ambulance :)

    • thanks sebastian! ha! someone asked me if it was! i guess if we’re talking vintage classic ambulance, i’m good with that :)

  12. Wow, she looks absolutely amazing. Great colours – especially the red to match your lipstick! ;)

  13. Wow! What a transformation, great work!

    • thanks so much dave & deb! it was so much fun to do! i really love making ideas come to life with my own hands and anjel and connal made it a blast. appreciate the cheer! :)

    • thanks dave & carol- glad you like! so great to meet you at TBEX! and now you know what i’m road tripping in! hope to see you in AZ in december :)

  14. Chicks with power tools rock! When I sold all my stuff at a yard sale last year, people looked at me funny when they saw I was selling a band saw. Nope, that’s not my boyfriend’s. It’s mine, and I know how to use it :-)

    • thanks stephanie! i think so too- ha ha. and i TOTALLY understand what you mean! during my marriage and our DIY home reno, i can’t tell you how many times we’d be in home depot, a hardware store, or talking with a potential sub-contractor and i would ask a question, and they’d reply to francisco!!! some times i’d have to say, “excuse me, i asked the question because i’m the one who will understand your answer.” silly assumers! gals can be dynamic beyond those assumptions, right? :)

  15. Yeah! You girls are so bad-a**. That’s amazing!!! Wow!

    • YAY! thanks so much abby!!! i’m so happy with it :) hey- if i roll thru vegas, i’ll take you for a ride! :)

  16. What an awesome after! Good job on the re-hab!

    • thanks mark! glad you got to see it! i remember we connected when i posted the first before pics! oooh just wait for the inside! it’s going to be gooooood ;)

      • Oohh, looking forward to it! When I saw the title of the post, I really thought it was going to be an interior make-over. I’m way impressed as I consider painting an auto exterior intimidating!

        • i completely get that! i would not have taken it on without anjel’s offer- thought it would be way too steep a learning curve and too much chance for a schedule derailing. i’m glad i didn’t- dealing with wind and getting the paint strokes right is a craft & skill, and i didn’t have time for trial and error :) i’m just proud to have contributed to the process and grateful i could leave the artful finish to anjel! interiors? now there’s my comfy spot :)

  17. Looks great! Awesome ride for an awesome trip!

  18. “Pimp my Ride” indeed! Very cool!!!!

  19. MAGIC. The Chinook is transformed–way to DIY and get your hands dirty. She’s a beauty. I believe that when we drove by those boys, they said..ahem: “Damn, now that’s a party ride.”

    Damn right.

    xo Camille

    P.S. Seriously, you gals look mad hot in coveralls.

    • CAM! i miss you so much and reading your words here even more! thanks so much for making the connection lovely, and for all of your support. if you hadn’t introduced me to anjel, i wouldn’t have such a sweet ride! LOL i forgot about those boys… :D and mad hot?! *blush* thanks doll! xo

  20. Dang, that Chinook is looking sexy now! Love the blue door in the back, and the red on the rims. Also loving their travel blog – thanks for introducing me to some great new folks!! :)

    • thanks christy! this comment makes me so happy! :) excited to introduce anjel & connal to my other great peeps! don’t you just love our community??

  21. You can’t see it but head is lowered, i’m on bent knees and my arms stretched out over my head <<>>…..once again, amazed by you :o ) xxoo!!!

    • thanks jen!!! so glad you like it! isn’t it cute?? i’m loving it so much! i think it’s the first time i picked colors i thought i wanted and got them right on the first try! :) xoxo and can’t wait for you to see it in person! p.s. sooo appreciate you reading :)

  22. thats me above btw ;o)

  23. It looks great!! Still adorable, but in a very updated, more fashionable way. ;)

  24. Beautiful! Every time I lay eyes on that thing I like it more. That’s a big deal (and a big psychological milestone I would have thought) making it your own like that.

    Do you plan an interior makeover?

    • thanks robin! you’re so right, the act of making it mine, with an image from my imagination, is a huge deal for me. i’ve put my stamp on it and i’m much prouder to drive it. it reflects my style now. and it’s fun to have random strangers honk and give a thumbs up, or pull over and ask me about it and say how cute it is. pride of ownership! so grateful to anjel for all her hard work! and YES! and interior makeover is coming soon! may get to work on my next stop :)

  25. LOVE this post on so many different levels. It’s really inspiring! There are so many possibilities in life, and you are seizing every opportunity – with aplomb too!

    • thanks linda! wow! i just finished replying to the last comment by writing “hope it inspires” and then i read your comment- yay! i really appreciate your kind words- they inspire ME to keep on keepin’ on :)

  26. Love the makeover! What a difference a coat or two of paint can make. Also love the title of this post – I couldn’t wait to see the “after” pictures.

    • thanks laurel! what i was hoping to deliver here, without proselytizing, is that you don’t have to be a guy, or be a certain kind of girl, and that it doesn’t have to be left to experts, or be a full-on overhaul to transform something to your liking. hope it inspires! :)

  27. Looks great! You guys did a fab job and I love the colors!!! Can’t wait to see the pics when you do up the inside too! :)

    • thanks beth! so appreciate that! i finally managed to pick colors right out of the gate that worked- i’m such a picky wench and usually if it’s off by a level, i’ll call do-over, but i couldn’t believe it liked it so much right on the first try. putting up this post and living in the chinook for the past 2.5 weeks is really making me jones for doing the interior soon. :)

  28. LADIES…THIS IS AMAZING!! AHHHHHHH! I love it. You guys did an amazing job, with killer looks and lipstick to boot. Nice work.

    And as I’m taking off in my RV by next weekend, I’m gonna be calling your asses for advice. LET’S MEET UP ON THE ROAD!!!


    • thanks so much sally sweet mouth! glad you likey :) hell yes to meeting up on the road! what’s your RV like? your own? renting? so exciting that you’re taking off so soon! :)

  29. Wow, it looks so much better than I even imagined it would. The colors are perfect. Excited to meet Chinook very soon :)

    • thanks kent? caanan?! so glad you like it and that you get to see it in person really soon! yippee! okay, so now let’s get real. when we met over burritos in the mission of san francisco and i told you this hair-brained idea, 1. did you think i’d really do it? and 2. did you think i was bat-shit crazy? lol :)

  30. LOVE LOVE LOVE!! It looks fantastic! You two did a great job and it DOES match your lips! :)

    I hope to get a chance to meet it here in Seattle!

    • thanks annie! really appreciate that! and ha- it does match, right? i think it’s highly likely i can arrange a meeting between you and the chinook :)

  31. That’s one funky ride! Well done!

  32. Wow, hot! That’s way more ambitious than I would’ve been.

    • thanks scott! glad you likey! it’s way more ambitious than I was to actually turn the dream into reality until anjel came along! so grateful to her! :)

  33. WOW! im so impressed! it looks brand new! who says girls dont know how to work on cars? well i dont, but im glad there are some of us out there that can rock it! You could def be on an episode of “Pimp my Ride” :)

  34. Saweet ride ya got there, Lorna!

  35. Ladies, awesome paint job. Clap Clap Clap. You can pimp my ride anytime!

    • thanks grace! yeah, i agree! anjel deserves some clapping and a standing ovation in my book :) and you know, she WILL pimp your ride ;)

  36. OMG Lorna – this looks absolutely fantastic! Paint goes a REALLY long way! I’m in love with this post. Maybe you should come and work with our car once we buy it and have a house and a garage to house it. *grin*

    • thanks erica!!! it does, right? and not even the whole chinook! just stripes and bumpers. i would ABSOLUTELY do this with you guys! but of course, it’s more likely that i’d be decorating your backpacks with your awesome new lifestyle, right? but if you do, i will! :)

  37. It looks fabulous! And even more important, it seems like y’all had a blast while painting it. Love it – girls in jumpers with power tools working on cars :) Fun!

    • thanks erin! we did have a blast! anjel and connal are wonderful, positive people- a real pleasure to be around and so admiral for all they are taking on with their new site. yay for girls in jumpers and power tools right?? and who says those same gals can’t wear lipstick and dresses? ;)

  38. lovely to see the before and after picks! you girls did a great job! kickass!!!!

    • thanks sarah-lu! anjel and i had a blast doing it and it feels so good to have it look like it did in my head! SO grateful to her for making it happen! glad you got to see it in person! :)

  39. it looks really good. those before and after pictures really show the transformation it went through. very nice job. i’d let anyone ducati driving woman named anjel paint my car if she wanted. that’s awesome.

    • lol thanks so much mack! she’d do it! i’m really so happy that i jumped on the opportunity to put my stamp on it. it really added to my pride of ownership and i get lots of thumbs up while out and about! :)

      • isn’t that like one of the most gratifying feelings? you should be proud to won such a unique piece of machinery.

        • thanks mack! yes- it feels so good to have done this! i’m really proud of the chinook. it was SUCH a great buy. glad i followed my instincts- i’m enjoying it so much! :)

  40. Amazing job! Painting is a terribly underrated event. So much more work than what it looks to be, but it sure looks great!

    • thanks so much david! yeah, it was a lot of work in the end, but i am SO HAPPY i took the opportunity to have anjel’s expert help. i love it now! :)

  41. Nice ride! I am so excited to finally be gutting the insides of my Toyota Chinook. Also, saving the exterior for later. Thanks for the encouragement. Check out some of my adventures at Healing Massagers blog. Namaste

  42. so, did you use spray paint or what on this beauty ?

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