Thursday, June 16, 2016

Sweet little mystery in the West Village

Somewhere really fancy like Hudson or Greenwich streets in the West Village I stumbled upon a plain old Toyota truck like the other millions of Toyota trucks out there.
Except wait a minute! 4 doors? I don't remember ever seeing a crew cab Toyota. . .
What we have here is a 1987-ish Toyota Hilux SSR 4 door pickup in either Red or Super Red II (you know I'm pulling for SRII). This is a vehicle that was never available in the United States when new. *It took everything I had to not reach out and adjust that bumper guard but I'd rather not be seen touching a strange car.
The Toyota truck has always been known as the Hilux oversees, and was here too until 1976. Incidentally Toyota decided to change the name from Hilux in the States to Truck. Well played, Toyota!
One look at this beast and you can see how capable it is. Moderately large wheels and tires combined with that generous ground clearance speak of a truck that can be steered off road at a moments notice. That sweet original stripe is great too.

The 2.4D indicates a 2.4 Liter inline 4 cylinder diesel engine.
That metal rear window guard is factory and looks to double as a roll bar or at least an assist (though I can't confirm this).
Aero Magic! It seems this ride has a name after all. 
The small decal on the lower left with 500kg on it alludes to the origin of this rig.
Bringing a vehicle into the United States from another country is very difficult in most cases. When I was a kid I remember hearing about people going to Germany, buying a Mercedes Benz directly, and shipping it back home. To do this the car must be fully compliant with all emissions and safety laws of which ours are some of the strictest out there.
There is a huge loophole though; once a vehicle is 25 years old almost anything goes! If you can find the 25 year old or older car of your dreams anywhere in the world it's a pretty straightforward process. This is why you might see horrifically non-compliant rides like the Trabant of East Germany at car shows in the States. The basics such as lights, horn, brakes, etc would have to be in good working order to get an inspection in New York, but in states like most of New England you don't even need an inspection for vehicles over 10 years old.
These trucks want to rust and will do it given the slightest opportunity. The metal stampings of the body panels and tailgate are as thin and simple as they seem, and the paint jobs were that of a vehicle that was more of a utility appliance than a luxury item. This bed is a total loss really.
Toyota was slow to learn its lesson about the rust issue. It all came to a head in 2008 when 800,000 (!) trucks built between 1995-2004 were recalled due to rotting frames. In many instances they either replaced the entire truck or cut the owner a check for most of the original sticker price. I know somebody whose Tacoma truck with almost 200,000 miles on it was declared a total loss and he got a check for $13,000!
Automatic locking hubs show that this is the 4 wheel drive edition.
Right hand drive!
Since this beast was built to drive on the left side of the road and has that little sticker on the back my guess is that this was imported from Japan.
You can see this is a stick shift with roll down windows; a real truck!
The BBC version of Top Gear declared a Toyota truck from this era to be the most durable vehicle of all time. The episode is pretty startling overall. They lash the truck to a jetty during high tide in a storm but it managed to break free and wash into the ocean! They dragged it out of the water once the tide went out and with basic tools and no replacement parts were able to get it running and drive it away. They then parked it on the roof of a 28 story building that was subsequently demolished. Once they dragged the wreck out of the rubble, put a battery in it and replacing the tires they drove it away!
We'll leave this proud immigrant here on the tony streets of the Village. Having had several Toyotas I have no doubt this is a capable, fun, and thrifty ride. Makes me wonder how much it would cost to acquire one oversees and import it.

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