1. It’s got predigree
The first Toyota bakkie was the Type G1, which saw the light in 1935. It was a commercial truck, with a load capacity of 1,5-ton.
Powered by a straight-six engine, it produced all of 46 kW of power. In 1947 the Toyopet Model SB was introduced. The SB was powered by a new 995cc four-cylinder, water-cooled engine, capable of 20 kW.
The robust little bakkie proved highly popular – even the American occupational forces in Japan ordered hundreds of them.
By 1960 the bigger and more powerful incarnation of the bakkie was released, rebadged as the Stout. Powered by a 1,8-litre four-cylinder engine capable of 63 kW, the Toyota bakkie continued to sell well.
The “Hilux” started production in 1968, even though the Stout continued for several more years, albeit in slightly larger form. It was introduced in South Africa two yeats later, in 1970.
2. Mom likes to drive it too
Over the years the Hilux has evolved into a luxurious and safe workhorse-cum-daily runner. Thousands of housewives would attest to the fact that they use the bakkie, especially the double cab version, on a daily basis to comfortably ferry children to school and back, go shopping with, and even to go and see the latest opera on Saturday night.
How times have changed. Twenty years ago the average housewife would never have braved the peak-hour traffic in a double cab!
3. It’s the modern Bedouin “camel”
Although many Middle Eastern Bedouin families have opted to integrate into other societies as droughts took their toll and the desire for improved standards of living became more popular, there are still many Bedouin families who prefer to live the nomadic lifestyle.
And for many of these families the Hilux bakkie has apparently largely replaced the camel as the preferred mode of transport. In a culture where men are the absolutely kings, it is apparently a common sight to see a Hilux with two Bedouin men in the cabin, and six women on the “bak”.
4. Buddy, the spokesdog, digs itbr>
In 2009 Toyota South Africa created a bit of a monster. Well, a cute and friendly kind of monster that can talk, and who likes to ride in Toyotas with “his man”. Buddy, Toyota’s own spokesdog, appears in all Toyota’s advertising campaigns, and has become a bit of a “hot dog”. Since Toyota pays his salary, Buddy obviously loves Toyotas. But he’s apparently got a very soft spot for the Hilux. And lamb tjops.
5. It’s a REAL 4×4
Nowadays we have crossover vehicles that blur the divide between car and 4×4 and whatever else, sport utility vehicles (SUVs) that become increasingly off-road un-friendly, sport activity vehicles (SACs) that can easily do 250km/h but are scared of a rough gravel road, and multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs) that also claim to be 4x4s.
In this evolving automotive landscape, it’s great to know that the Hilux is still a real 4×4. Yup, it’s even got a second gearlever.
6. There’s a Toyota dealer in every little town
Well, maybe not in Tweebuffelsmeteenskootmorsdoodgeskietfontein, but there’s one in just about every second town. For the record: Toyota is available in 140 countries with factories that either manufacture or assemble vehicles in Japan, Australia, India, Sri Lanka, Canada, Indonesia, Poland, South Africa, Turkey, Colombia, the United Kingdom, the United States, UAE, France, Brazil, Portugal, and more recently, Argentina, Czech Republic, Mexico, Malaysia, Thailand, Pakistan, Egypt, China, Vietnam, Venezuela, the Philippines, and Russia. Phew!
7. It’s a Tiger!
Toyota decided to add “Tiger” to the Hilux name in Thailand, from 1998 to about 2005. The Hilux Tiger was aslo manufactured there, and exported to other Eastern markets. The last model in production was apparently known as the Hilux Tiger SportCruiser 3.0D4-D. That’s a whole lot of words to describe a Hilux 3.0D4-D!
8. It’s a? Toybota?
As part of a BBC Top Gear television show “challenge”, the three presenters were required to each create a “water-worthy” amphibious vehicle, and race each other across the Rudyard Lake in the UK. Jeremy Clarkson strapped a massive Honda outboard engine onto the “bak” of a Toyota Hilux, and dubbed it the Toybota. James May turned a Triumph Herald into a sailboat, and Richard Hammond converted a Camper Van into? a Damper Van. The Damper Van sunk very soon after tackling the water, but the Toybota followed suite, not long after.
Unfortunately Toyota’s engineers did not take water sports into consideration when they designed the Hilux!
9. It’s real tough cop car
Over the past 40 years or so the Hilux has seen extensive police service duty, across the globle. This includes South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, New Zealand, Singapore, Australia, United Kingdom, USA, Thailand? in fact, they are all over Africa, and most other countries too.
10. It’s a tough motorhome. Or in American, RrrrrVeee
Since the late Seventies recreational vehicle (Rrrr-Veee) builders have preferred Toyota’s tough Hilux frame, sturdy construction and reliability as base for their vehicles. There the smaller class C motorhomes from Chinook, RBR, New Horizons, Coachman, Huntsman, Dolphin, Seabreaze, Winnebago and Gardner Pacific apparently mostly use Toyota one-ton bakkie chassis. The people who buy these motorhomes like them so much, they’ve even got their own website. Check out at www.toyotamotorhomes.com.