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.
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.
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.
Creativity means to explore new avenues of expression. In the thirties, forties and fifties, old cars were the clay that inspired new forms of creativity for the hot rodders and customizers. By its nature, creative expression was always changing, and 1953’s hot ticket was stale bread by 1958. The sixties were the blowout, led by crazies like Ed Roth. But by the seventies or so, the truly creative period was over, and it soon became a big-bucks business dominated by the Chip Fooses of the world. Glitzy eye candy, but don’t try this at home kiddies! No wonder there was a revival of rat rods, and the art car scene blossomed. Younger and/or artistic folks have always needed to test the sensibilities of the establishment, so if the goading words on this bumper have done their thing, and this turns you off, it’s been a roaring success.
After a deep immersion in cheap, plastic (un)fantastic Toyota electronic gas pedal assemblies, we need to swing the friction arm pendulum way far the other direction; right into a cast iron Hilux pickup. The only electronics in these would be a handful of transistors in the radio, if it even had one. If there had to be a vehicle to keep running indefinitely, I couldn’t think of a better choice. And I’m obviously not the only one: there are dozens of these on the roads hereabouts, being used daily by thrifty gardeners, carpenters, handy-men, and just homeowners wanting a weekend dump-run truck. There’s no question in my mind; if I wasn’t so tall and didn’t like a big bed, I’d be driving one of these instead of my old F-100.
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