In Part One of this minitruckin’ history, we covered how the Big 3 provided their dealers with “captive import” minitrucks from Mazda, Isuzu, and Mitsubishi during the Seventies. By 1975 or thereabouts, both GM and Ford were convinced that the small-pickup market was not a fad and began digging their own products out of the parts bin.
The Chevrolet S-10/GMC S-15 was a sort of truck version of the A-body (later G-body) intermediate. While it’s not dimensionally identical to the older sedans, it’s possible to swap much of the running gear between those two vehicles, particularly ahead of the firewall. The Ford Ranger arrived a few months after the S-10, a few inches smaller in most dimensions and looking remarkably ungainly compared to its sleek GM competitor. Those of you who followed the minitrucking hobby in the Nineties will recall that the Ranger was conspicuous by its absence; “domestic” minitruckers were almost exclusively loyal to the S-10/S-15. Part of that was due to the Twin-I-Beam’s reluctance to accept a lowering kit and/or airbags, but much of it was the Ranger’s hokey, hick-ish appearance compared to the S-10.
So what did that mean for the captive import trucks?
Toyotas of the 1970s and 1980s were quite reliable for the era, if you’re just talking about running gear. If you lived in a rust-prone area, though (say, a block from the Pacific Ocean in San Francisco), Toyotas were eaten by the Iron Oxide Monster in a hurry. Here in Denver, where the snow usually doesn’t stick around long enough to warrant the application of road salt and the single-digit humidity dries out pockets of moisture trapped behind body panels before they can cause much harm, you don’t see too many rust horror-shows in junkyards. However, being conveniently located to both the western edge of the Rust Belt and the salty-road mountains means that I do see some interesting approaches to the Rotting Toyota Problem. Here’s a camper-shell-equipped Missouri Hilux (sold as, simply, the “Toyota Truck” in the United States) with some fiberglass-and-body-filler bodywork that may have bought it another year or two on the road. (Read More…)
Ford Ranger. Volkswagen Amarok. Toyota Hilux. Chevrolet…err…Holden Colorado. These are the mid-size pickups that are unavailable to us Americans, a once thriving segment now hollowed out by market economics and unfavorable CAFE regulations. But the crew at PickupTrucks.com managed to wrangle the four up in Australia, and pick a winner in the segment. Read all about it here. We won’t spoil the surprise.
While 1980s Toyota Land Cruisers show up in self-service wrecking yards every once in a while, you’re more likely to find a Studebaker Avanti than a Toyota 4Runner in such a yard. In fact, in all my years of visiting high-turnover, uniform-priced self-service yards, I can’t recall ever having seen a 4Runner. Well, there’s a first for everything! (Read More…)
Working in the 24 Hours of LeMons Penalty Box, the constant refrain of “Four wheels off” over the radio from the corner workers reporting miscreant drivers gets a little tedious. Hearing “Six wheels off,” however, really livens things up for us. That’s just one of the many benefits of having the Team Apex Vinyl Texas six-wheeled Toyota Hilux in a race. (Read More…)