Toyota 50th Anniversary: A Brief History of Toyota Trucks
Today, October 31st 2007, Toyota Motor Sales celebrates exactly 50 years in the U.S. Since 1957, Toyota has grown from a small importer of vehicles to what will most likely be the largest auto manufacturer in the world. In short, Toyota is a success story. Being that we’re all fans of trucks here, we thought it might be fun to briefly review the history of Toyota trucks in the U.S.
First up, the 1963 Toyota LandCruiser truck. Available in small numbers for only four years in the U.S. market (1963-67), these are highly sought-after collector’s items.
Next, we have the Toyota Stout. Available in 1964, this was the obvious predecessor to 1969’s Toyota HiLux. The HiLux was the first Toyota truck to reach measurable sales and commercial success.
The “HiLux” name, as groovy as it is, was dropped from Toyota trucks in 1975. From that point forward, the small Toyota truck was simply known as the “Toyota Pickup”. The HiLux/Toyota Pickup developed rather quickly. In 1975, the SR5 package was first made available. In 1979, Toyota first began offering a four-wheel-drive model. In 1983, Toyota offered an “Xtra Cab” Toyota Pickup that was extremely popular. Toyota trucks began to come in their own in the 80’s, reaching top cultural status as evidenced by their various pop-culture references (who could forget the Toyota truck from Back To The Future?).
1983 Toyota Pickup
Michael J. Fox drives the Toyota truck owned by his character.
In 1993, Toyota introduced their first full-size truck, the T100. While many critics found the T100 supremely lacking, there are a lot of loyal Toyota fans who will argue this was one of the best Toyota trucks ever built.
In 1995, the “Toyota Pickup” finally got a name of its own, the Tacoma. Known as the “Taco” by off-road enthusiasts everywhere, the Tacoma is easily Toyota’s largest commercial success in the US truck market.
In 1999, Toyota released their next attempt at a full-size, the 2000 Tundra. This new full-size truck featured a powerful V8, as well as a larger frame, interior, and greater hauling and towing capabilities. When this model debuted, it was Motor Trend’s “Truck of The Year”.
In 2004, Toyota released a completely redesigned Tacoma that rivaled the Tundra in terms of size and power, while still honoring Toyota’s compact pickup roots in terms of economy and off-road performance.
Finally, in 2007, Toyota released the 2nd generation Tundra. This truck silenced all the critics that said Toyota’s full-size trucks were really only 7/8th size, as well as offering the most powerful engine in the marketplace.
We all know how the rest of this story goes…
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