Junkyard Find: 1981 Toyota Pickup, Scrap Hunter Edition

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1981 toyota pickup scrap hunter edition

The third-generation Toyota Hilux, sold in the United States as the Toyota Truck or Toyota Pickup (remember, this is the extremely un-frivolous company that, even today, sells a luxury sedan called the LS), achieved legend status very early in its career. An 800,000-mile example will be equally comfortable hauling a dozen or two Taliban fighters through the wilds of North Waziristan or a ton of discarded bicycles and box-springs through the streets of San Jose.

Here’s one of the latter occupation, spotted last spring in a self-service yard in the heart of Silicon Valley.

Because this truck hauled scrap in the San Francisco Bay Area, the entrepreneur driving it included the word “green” in his flyers.

It sports a sturdy, well-made cargo cage, enabling no-doubt-precarious loads-O-junk to be piled high while making its rounds.

I’m guessing about the 800,000-mile part, because the odometer only goes up to 99,999.9 miles before turning over. Maybe the ol’ Toyota has 184,999 miles, maybe it has 984,999 miles.

The automatic transmission was a very unusual option in these trucks, or for any small pickup during the Malaise Era.

The baby shoe and rosary hanging from the rear-view mirror suggests that the operator of this truck was a Catholic family man.

Unusually, the standard-size 2-1/16″ voltmeter hadn’t been grabbed yet when I photographed this truck. I have several stockpiled, mostly VDOs, so I left this one in the yard.

Someone had snatched up the 20R engine, though; you’d think that a lower-mile donor, such as a Celica of the same era, would have been a better bet to have a lot of life left.

Washers, dryers, whatever!

Toyota trucks, built with Toyota quality!

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5 of 27 comments
  • JMII JMII on Oct 23, 2017

    Why not drive that extra mile to reach X85,000? Mini trucks like this were all the rage when I was in HS in the 80s. Mostly Mazda B2200 lowered on tiny wheels and covered in various graphics with neon under them and two 12" subwoofers behind the seats. My buddies all had them because back then trucks where the cheapest vehicles on the lot. They were bullet proof, got good mileage and the insurance was low too. While they were slow they were still RWD thus were ideal for tearing up your ex-girlfriend's front yard.

    • See 2 previous
    • Vulpine Vulpine on Oct 24, 2017

      @Art Vandelay My Mitsi had an SSB CB radio under the dash with a 100" whip antenna clipped to the passenger-side rain rail. Everything else was factory stock. Then again, I bought the thing brand new, too.

  • Guitar man Guitar man on Oct 24, 2017

    A massive heavy cage at the back, thrashy 3 speed auto and the mighty 4Y engine with 45 kW of raw power - watch out for neck sprain !

  • 3SpeedAutomatic Drove a rental Cherokee for several days at the beginning of this year. Since the inventory of rental cars is still low, this was a 2020 model with 48k miles and V6. Ran fine, no gremlins, graphics display was easy to work, plenty of power, & very comfortable. Someone must of disarmed the lane assistance feature for the steering wheel never shook (YES!!!!!!!!). However, this woman's voice kept nagging me about the speed limit (what's new!?!?!?!).I was impressed enough to consider this a prime candidate to replace my 11 yr old Ford Escape. Might get a good deal with the close out of the model. Time will tell. 🚗🚗🚗
  • Bullnuke One wonders if this poor woman entered the US through Roxham Road...
  • Johnds Years ago I pulled over a vehicle from either Manitoba or Ontario in North Dakota for speeding. The license plates and drivers license did not come up on my dispatchers computer. The only option was to call their government. Being that it was 2 am, that wasn’t possible so they were given a warning.
  • BEPLA My own theory/question on the Mark VI:Had Lincoln used the longer sedan wheelbase on the coupe - by leaning the windshield back and pushing the dashboard & steering wheel rearward a bit - not built a sedan - and engineered the car for frameless side windows (those framed windows are clunky, look cheap, and add too many vertical lines in comparison to the previous Marks) - Would the VI have remained an attractive, aspirational object of desire?
  • VoGhost Another ICEbox? Pass. Where are you going to fill your oil addiction when all the gas stations disappear for lack of demand? I want a pickup that I can actually use for a few decades.