Toyota entered the U.S. truck market with the Stout pickup in the mid-'sixties, a truck with an identity crisis...U.S. trucks were large and mostly V-8 powered, and the Stout limped into the picture with a scaled down chassis and four-cylinder engine. Great for a 2nd or 3rd World hauler, ill-suited for the recently completed, high speed interstate highway system in America. The Stout was remarkably well-built, truly a benchmark for Toyota. In the U.S.A., the Stout's largest success is its current collectibility as an iconic, cult classic—like many of the Japanese motorcycles from that era.
Then the first Energy Crisis hit, and fuel efficient trucks were in short supply. Ford rapidly turned to Mazda's Courier, G.M. partnered with Isuzu's Chevrolet LUV and Chrysler turned to Mitsubishi. Toyota simply pressed sales of its rugged Hi-Lux pickup.
That lightweight, 4-cylinder Hi-Lux model became legendary in short order. Toyota mini-trucks, especially after the 1979 introduction of the 4WD models with beam front and rear axles, established themselves as the most reliable, durable, longest lasting and certainly fuel efficient trucks in the industry. Earning a cult following, modified 1979-85 Toyota 20R and 22R/RE powered 4x4 trucks still ply the Rubicon Trail, demonstrating the worth of these scale versions of the FJ Land Cruisers! It was quite natural to include these Toyota trucks in my Toyota Truck & Land Cruiser Owner's Bible (Bentley Publshers)!
The 4Runner launched on the mini-truck platform. I was working for Rose Toyota at San Diego when it did. By the mid-'eighties, the heftier 4Runner and consumer demand for performance encouraged Toyota's first V-6 offering. The mini-truck and 4Runner put on weight and size, now possible with the added power.
Note: A tribute to the indestructible nature of the inline four-cylinder 22R engine design: its ability to lug around a mid-'eighties phenomenon, the aftermarket Toyota camper/motorhome that required dual rear wheels! The remaining camper/motorhomes are still seen crawling up grades in the U.S.A. This is a remarkable testament, tribute to one of the best engine designs, especially for its size, in automotive history.
Toyota has never rushed to market with a model, especially within its truck lines. The Tacoma eventually replaced the mini-pickup, offering modern powertrains, body styling, improved ergonomics and chassis/handling. However, a full-size V-8 contender remained a consumer wish-thought in the U.S. and other Toyota markets. Finally, the Tundra came to life as Toyota would have it: a solid, reliable and rugged pickup—just what buyers expect from Toyota!
This forum is a celebration of all things "Toyota truck". From technology and projects to sharing experiences and restoration tips, Toyota owners have one distinct thing in common—valuing Toyota trucks!—Moses Ludel