By on September 30, 2021

Trucks were simpler when today’s Rare Ride was new. No giant grilles, no Ranch Platinum 1764 Embroidery Edition, and no ridiculous styling (I see you, Tundra.) The T100 was a reliable essence of truck, even if it wasn’t what the American market wanted.

Until the T100 came along, Toyota offered exactly one truck in its North American lineup: the Pickup. And while that compact had a loyal following, it wasn’t the right size to capture the meat of the North American market that wanted a full-size. Enter T100.

Toyota designed the T100 specifically for the US and Canada, after hearing many dealer complaints about customers moving from the Pickup to a larger domestic offering. Introduced for the 1993 model year, all T100s were produced at a Hino factory in Tokyo.

T100s were offered with three different engines: a 2.7-liter inline-four, 3.0-liter V6, or 3.4-liter V6. The 3.0 was the launch engine and managed 150 horsepower. All engines were shared with the 4Runner. Transmissions had four speeds if automatic, or five if manual. Four-wheel drive was an optional extra.

With an eight-foot bed, the T100 was what Toyota considered a full-size offering. In reality, it was slightly larger than the Dodge Dakota, a midsize. At 209.1 inches long and 75.2 inches wide, it was much smaller than a 235-inch long bed F-150, which was also 79 inches wide. The diminutive size was intentional, however, as Toyota calculated that going head-to-head with the Big Three in the full-size truck world would cause a ruckus. Thus the T100 was slightly smaller than those three, to be enough for the full-size truck customer who wanted a Toyota.

Criticism poured in about the T100s size and its lack of an extended cab option. While Toyota remedied the cab issue for 1994, the issue they didn’t rectify was a distinctly American one: Customers wanted a V8 engine in their full-size truck. Toyota claimed they considered all of these things during the T100s development, and customers should enjoy the fuel economy of the V6 and its benefit to the environment. Truck buyers shrugged.

Sales were slow for T100 and peaked in 1996 at around 45,000 units, a figure that paled in comparison to Chevy’s 700,000 and Ford’s 850,000. The T100 also felt the pain of Ram, as sales fell 30 percent after about a year when the excellent ’94 Ram 1500 was introduced. Toyota learned a difficult lesson with T100 about North America and full-size trucks. They fired up a plant in Indiana to produce the Tundra for 2000.

Today’s Rare Ride is a lovely T100 from 1995. In white over blue, it’s automatic and has covered just 77,000 miles. It’s old man spec too, two-wheel drive with a cap. Yours for $5,500.

[Images: Toyota]

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57 Comments on “Rare Rides: The 1995 Toyota T100, a Truck of a Different Era...”


  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    These things were stupid reliable and bulletproof. I still see T100s on the road occasionally.

    • 0 avatar
      Jim52

      EXACTLY: we are talking bulletproof reliability. Period. (and I’m not a Toyota fanboy)

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Golden Era Toyotas really were well built. I’m still not convinced the “advances” incorporated in vehicles since then, justifies the increased complexity, and attendant decreased reliability, that has come with them. Fixing what already works almost perfectly well, is rarely an obvious win to all but the most myopic and naive.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    “The issue they didn’t rectify was a distinctly American one: Customers wanted a V8 engine in their full-size truck.”

    One wonders why Toyota seems to have forgotten this lesson with the newest Tundra.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      I think they’ve given up on trying to make their V8s like the UR engine as fuel efficient as Chevy’s LS engines. Also, they already “went there” by switching the Lexus LS from the 5.0 UR engine to the twin-turbo V6. And anyway, don’t Ford’s EcoBoost V6s still outsell the 5.0 Coyote in the trucks?

      • 0 avatar
        jack4x

        “And anyway, don’t Ford’s EcoBoost V6s still outsell the 5.0 Coyote in the trucks?”

        I would assume they do, but the point is Ford still offers the V8. Maybe there is zero rational downside to the hybrid/V6 designs in the new Tundra, but some truck buyers are always going to be skeptical. Perhaps those buyers are not Toyota loyalists though.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          Ford offers the 5.0 for the V8 stalwarts and “the loud pipes annoy lives” crowd. The 5.0 is the minority engine. If one is looking at year end sales, the 5.0 is usually what’s left over along with the normally aspirated base V6.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            But, they still do offer it. And, I don’t they would if they were losing money on it or only selling a handful (see the ight duty diesel they recently discontinued).
            I think the V8 is about 23% of sales. When you sell a zillion trucks that still equates to a lot of customers.

            Still, I don’t think a lack of V8 will hurt the Tundra that much.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            There’s still not a better engine than the V8, all things considered. If the Tundra has the edge in reliability, it’s not by much and certainly a risk worth taking, vs not getting exactly what you need, the way you want it. We’re not talking Corolla vs Focus.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            I think the real big guys—Class 8 trucks and intercity buses—prove that the ideal engine form is the inline six. There have been attempts at other configurations of heavy engine, including V8s, V6s, and inline fours, but they’ve all failed in the end. Today, every heavy truck engine of any significance at all is an inline six.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            I love the Detroit 2-stroke though. The gasoline inline 6 was also great, but had its shortcomings in light duty vehicles. I’d take one over most engines except a V8. I’m not exactly saying V8s are unkill-able, but lord knows I’ve tried.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            I’ve spent more than my share of hours driving buses powered by 6V92TAs. They’re unkillable, but they’re smoky noisy screaming torqueless wonders that don’t make any power unless you drive like you’re pissed off. Ten hours with a Cummins ISM on the other side of the gas pedal is far more relaxing.

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            “I think the real big guys—Class 8 trucks and intercity buses—prove that the ideal engine form is the inline six.”

            If engine bay length is not an issue. And access all around for maintenance, ideally without lifting the whole truck, is.

            Pickups, as long as they are, are still stuck trying fit both a bed and a cab in the shortest possible length. I6s aren’t ideal for that. Also, pickups are maintained and serviced more like cars, and benefit less (not not-at-all, just less) from an engine with space beside it under the hood.

            Another issue is long cranks prefer lower revs, Which is fine as far as it goes, but since that requires big torque to generate sufficient peak power, it also means a heavy crank. And heavy bearings etc. All a bit overdimensioned for typical pickup use. But for pickup buyers who would rather use the horsepower they paid for than just “have them in reserve just in case,” a slow revving, smaller, less powerful I6 would be about ideal. That sort of buyer are a minority these days, though. Chevy sells an I6 diesel for them.

  • avatar
    ajla

    My stepfather went from a “Pickup” to a T100 to a 1st gen Tundra 4.7L to a Ram 3500 CTD because Toyota doesn’t offer a truck with the payload to handle his 5th wheel.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    The listed example looks very nice. The only thing I see is the way the hood, grille, and bumper fit, which tells me it’s had a minor front impact that bent and tweaked things a little bit.

    Rough translation of the seller’s description:

    “Automatic 6-cylinder smog plates ready cold air conditioning everything works with wheels and tires to one hundred ready for work.”

    • 0 avatar

      It’s definitely not perfect.

      You could also definitely put $1,000 into it and flip it on BaT for $15,000.

      • 0 avatar
        dukeisduke

        Really, $15,000? I don’t think it’d take much to fix the front – a new bumper, then take the rest apart and straighten stuff like brackets, to make everything fit right again. The rest of the truck looks very good.

        I love the seller’s handle – “Lobo Plateado”, or Silver Wolf.

        • 0 avatar

          A low-miles LX470 from 2000 went for $50,000 the other day. The prices on there are looney tunes for old stuff.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Say *what*?

          • 0 avatar

            MY 2000
            40k miles
            $50,000

            https://twitter.com/Bringatrailer/status/1442603096241172483

          • 0 avatar
            dukeisduke

            Used car prices are insane right now, some BaT prices have always been insane, so this fits. Me, I wouldn’t buy anything with a UZ V8, because I hate V8s with timing belts. I know their reliability is legendary (million-mile LS400, anyone?), but still, belts.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            I’m increasingly convinced that BAT is just a circle jerk of rich guys with f#ck-you money and that its prices no longer have any connection to the broader market for cars that don’t meet its standards.

            A low-mile LX470 is a $25k car, not a $50k one.

        • 0 avatar

          The last T100 on BAT was over 20k but it was an ext cab 4wd but with 122k miles.
          https://bringatrailer.com/listing/1995-toyota-4×4-pickup-14/
          A 35k mile 2003 Tacoma went for almost 35k.
          https://bringatrailer.com/listing/2003-toyota-tacoma-36/

  • avatar
    Syke

    Probably the finest example of the “honest pickup truck” that all the naysayers on this site claim to want in a pickup. It only needed a stretch cab to satisfy the truly chronic complainers.

    Of course, in all honesty, nothing satisfies those who get on this board to complain.

    • 0 avatar
      jack4x

      The regular cab is a bonus for the chronic complainers. I suppose the complaining is the reason they never have any passengers in their trucks with them.

      Quadruple bonus points for the screen-free interior, the bed loading height perfect for 4′ 11″ people, and the crank windows.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Agree with @jack4x. However there is one issue, up here in Canada. I tend to believe that there would be very few vehicles more ‘dangerous’ to drive in the winter, particularly for a younger driver who only has experience in FWD/AWD vehicles than a RWD ‘longer box’ pick-up that lacks all of the modern safety ‘nannies’.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      They’re great trucks, even if the styling reminds me of the blue Buddy L stamped steel toy I had in the ’60s – that’s no knock against the T100.

    • 0 avatar
      IH_Fever

      A relative had one. 2wd extended cab. By all measures it was adequate for a mid sized truck. This was before the crew cab luxobarge craze, so it had its place. Ah the perfect truck, the brown manual wagon of trucks, so perfect of a penalty box, that not many people bought them…..

  • avatar
    dal20402

    The T100 is so perfect. It’s exactly the right size to do real work, and the bedsides are even at accessible height. It’s a perfectly proportioned design without any brain-dead attempts to compensate for fragile male egos. The 3.4 V6 has more than enough power for the designed tasks. If only it had a crew-cab variant, I’d buy a brand-new T100 over any pickup sold new today.

  • avatar
    wolfwagen

    This is a steal.
    I have seen 4X4 club cab models with a lot of rust go for that much if not more

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    If I didn’t live in N KY and were closer I would buy this T100 for $5,500. The truck is in excellent shape with 77k and would be a midsize truck by today’s standards. These trucks can run forever.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “The (Pontiac) T1000 has the same files I do.”

    “The Toyota T100 only has one tenth of those.”

  • avatar
    spookiness

    Former co-worker has one and he adores it. It cycled through 2 daughters during their college years, then it came back to him.

  • avatar
    wjtinfwb

    Friend had one, basic 4×2 V6 work truck. Handed down to his son with 226k miles on it. It was totaled a few months later when another driver ran a red light. The truck was a mangled mess, kids had to be cut out of the cab but they walked away and the truck still moved under its own power. Tough trucks that we’re overshadowed by the HiLux/Tacoma series a notch below

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    With regard to the listed truck:

    I don’t understand bed caps. (This probably means one would be perfect for me.)

    https://www.ar15.com/forums/general/Pros_and_Cons_of_having_a_cap_on_your_truck/5-1831749/

    • 0 avatar

      Young me hated caps. Neither of my pickups had them. I also found them annoying on my shop trucks when I had to reach something at the front of the 8′ bed. Now that I’m older I think they are a good idea, and when I get another truck a cap will probably be added shortly after, but I want one with swing up side windows to avoid the front of bed access issues.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @mopar4wd – I’ve always liked caps/canopies for the winter. They make a truck a much more versatile tool. I’m not a fan of the new style caps that mold to the sides of the truck. Those are prone to damage if you happen to remove the cap frequently which is something I used to do frequently.

        • 0 avatar

          I agree with you. Fitted fiberglass tops look nice but are a pain to move. My FIL, had one on his Tundra before he switched from a travel trailer to a 5th wheel. Before the 5th wheel I think it came off once to move a fridge. When he got the 5th wheel he wanted to keep the cap and swap it on and off but after the 3rd time he ended up just selling the cap (a rather expensive color matched Leer). I think for my next truck I will have some way to lift or slide it off the truck alone. If I had the space a winch on the garage ceiling works well.
          20 years ago there was a home remodling shop near where I worked (they did high end restoration on historic houses) the owner had a first gen Tundra with an cheap aluminum cap. But he cut the top of the roof off the cap and framed it our to hold a removable sliding arrangement of panels for when he moved over size items. Definitely homebrew but pretty cool.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        Caps really mess up carrying motorcycles and any other bigger stuff. At the same time, they are pretty much a necessity for leaving anything of value in the bed outside the most far-off outposts of Mormonia.

        Folding, quickly removable and stowable tonneaus can sometime be a best-of-both-worlds. Or crewcabs with the rear seats either removed or replaced with a DOT bed. Depending on intended usage. I like the increasingly popular capsules as well, for those with the space to store them when off the truck, and a forklift (or camper jacks) to take them on and off.. Can be had in heights tall enough to tie down a bike inside, and in cab height for more normal use.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      I’m sure Lou_BC is right and caps are useful, especially in our wet/chilly climate. But I just can’t get past the appearance. They’ve said “grandpa truck” consistently since I was a little kid. And on top of that even the good ones don’t quite match OEM build/material/paint quality.

  • avatar
    Dan

    “At 209.1 inches long and 75.2 inches wide, it was much smaller than a 235-inch long bed F-150”

    Car writers with google but without understanding of what it is they’re pasting get these things wrong every single time. A 235 inch long-bed F-150 was the extended cab, the single cab was 213 inches.

    Come on now.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    If I were buying a truck with a cap I would take the cap off and get a spray in bed liner. For the price of this truck you are still ahead of the game. I would also rust proof the vehicle. This truck looks good enough that if the body were maintained and with proper maintenance it would last for many years. Also it would need new hoses, belts, and the timing belt changed. Probably a few other things because it is close to 30 years old but it is a Toyota and it will last.

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