Just what year is this truck, anyway? The angular styling gives away that it’s a 4th-gen Toyota Truck from 1984-1988. But Toyota changed these trucks’ styling so little from year to year that it’s hard to tell. If this one’s bed wasn’t covered, presence or absence of a CMHSL would date this truck to one side of 1986 or the other. If there were a V6 badge on this truck, it’d be from 1988, the only year it was offered. If there were a Turbo badge on the pillar behind the door, it would be from 1984-86. If I had crawled underneath the front end, presence of a solid front axle would have pegged it as 1984-85; an independent front suspension would have said ’86-88. I’ve got none of that. I’m guessing 1986.
But this is the basic working Toyota truck: standard cab, black plastic grille, steelies. It’s refreshing: just try to buy so basic a Tacoma today. The simplest modern Tacoma features an extended cab, power locks and mirrors, air conditioning, and a touch display with a honkin’ audio system.
Inside: bow to the brown. Further enhancing this truck’s cred, it’s a five speed. Hooray! You can, by the way, still get a five-speed Tacoma.
Everybody remember how funny it was in the 1980s to scratch off the TO and TA from the tailgate to leave just YO? It stopped being funny by the 1990s.
I was amused to find the bed covered and carpeted. When I was in high school, a fellow who did that to his truck would have been thought of as an aspiring ladies’ man.
These have become uncommon here in Rustopia. I see at most a handful in a year’s time, and most of those are clapped out. Except for faded paint, this one looks like it has plenty of life left.
Related reading: 1986 Toyota Turbo Pickup
The straight axle/IFS applies only to 4wd versions, the 2wd are all IFS.
87-88 going by the grille
I used to see one just like this (but without the cap) parked at an office building near me. Same unrusted condition, too – makes me wonder if it is the same truck. There can’t be many left around here that are this nice.
This was one of those that the responsible side of me kept telling me to stop in and photograph it, but the other side of me didn’t care enough to do it. Glad you did.
Toyota maintained the same basic shape and size for their compact trucks until 2004. After that the bloat and bee stings started creeping in and they became almost the same size as the full size trucks. It’s a shame the compact truck market has been all but abandoned.
It’s a shame the compact truck market has been all but abandoned.
Only in North America. The mighty Hilux is alive and well almost everywhere else.
I have a 2006 Tacoma and my brother has a 2008 Tundra. The Tacoma is a little larger than the 2004 and older ones, but still nowhere near as large as the Tundra. Having spent a lot of time in these older Toyota’s, the extra width and height of the current-gen cab really adds to the comfort level. These old ones you sat pretty much right on the floor and the single cab ones were too small for tall guy to slide the seat back to a comfortable position. I think that the ‘we miss small trucks’ mantra is overplayed if you have ever actually experienced the old ones, new ones and actual full size trucks.
By the way, on the article, they still make really basic single cab tacoma’s with no frills, they are not all extra cabs and they don’t all come loaded.
The regular cab Tacoma was discontinued after 2014.
wow, I did not realize that they discontinued the single-cab last year–I stand corrected. They must had sold so few that it didn’t make sense…
I think the newer Tacomas are about 6″ longer than the old ones. Not a huge difference on paper, but a big deal when trying to parallel park or fit in a small garage. I have driven both the older xtra cab Tacoma and the full size GM pickups. The GM handles better and feels more stable, probably because of the increased width, but as far as comfort they are about equal to me.
I have to disagree on the comfort. Some of that is because I’m 6’3″ with 3 kids, but I find the Tacomas to be cramped, the seats too low to the floor, the ride choppy, and the handling quirky. Not even close IMO. I have absolutely no desire to go back to a compact truck until gas prices force me to. And even then they’d need to increase their economy significantly from what it is today to be considered.
It could still be an ’87 or ’88 as trucks weren’t required to have a CHMSL until ’94.
Nice to see one in any sort of running condition in the Midwest. Mechanically they are to this day the stuff of legend, but in the end they were still an ’80s Japanese vehicle. That meant rust – and lots of it.
Aha: I didn’t know trucks weren’t required to have CHMSL until later! But my memory is that these trucks had CHMSLs in some years, above the back window.
IIRC there were a few trucks and SUVs that got them early. The ’93 Jeep ZJ (debut year) and the ’93 Ranger and its Mazda clone (restyled that year) are two that I know of.
Carpet is actually becoming common now in trucks. I laughed at first but when I checked out a BedRug it actually looks kind of neat and a lot more durable than I figured. I still prefer plastic though because it makes heavy stuff easy to slide in and out.
I have a cap on my truck and used some leftover foam flooring of the type that you can put down in a home gymn–has teeth on the edges to connect the pieces so it stays together like a single piece but is lighter and softer than a rubber mat. Keeps stuff from sliding around and can be disassembled in a minute and stowed if you have a real load to carry.
For the record, CHMSLs didn’t appear on (most) light trucks until 1994, near the end of the subsequent generation.
These Toyota trucks were rugged and durable in some ways, but oh my word, body integrity was not one of them. The cargo boxes were flimsy as cardboard, and the sheetmetal rusted in an instant if you looked at it wrong. Even in non-salty areas by my recollection, many of the Toyotas of this era were in the process of dissolving to dust before the 1990s were halfway through.
I’m *amazed* that this one is in as good a shape as it is, in Indiana no less…a sign that it was either a) imported from another state, or b) a lightly-traveled garage subject that spends December to March inside. Maybe both.
One of the many vehicles that Toyota built their reputation on.
If my memory is correct, a four speed could be had on the base single wall bed bench seat model. $6995(?) in 1984. They actually had a chain mechanism to close the box. Every Toyota dealership of that time had 50 trucks for every 5 cars. Demand was so high that sometimes delivery would be delayed to allow the salesmen to use the car to sell incoming vehicles. When I would go to dealer meetings with the Nissan and Toyota guys, it seemed they were in a totally different business than the domestics. But, we wrote their paper regardless of the brand, as the financial reserve is no respecter of a name. The single point imports were at a disadvantage without a captive finance arm. And, I bought a 1984 extra cab with a 5 speed air and power steering. Invoice was about $6800. We sold it with 100k and 18 years on it for $2500. I should be so lucky on all my automotive adventures. Should have kept it.
Interior door panels and seats are the same color as my 84 Toyota Sunrader motorhome. I also had an 88 Toyota pickup. There’s one minor difference with the pickup box. This one has a funny lip that the canopy sits on. On my 88, the box was flush (smooth) up to the canopy, which looks a little better. So, I’m thinking this is an 84 .
One would have thought the ’80s would be more aero than they turned out to be. The psychology of the box was in full swing, though. They looked more space efficient, at the expense of giving the impression of flying bricks. Automakers made sure to trumpet friction coefficients to prove the new rectangles wouldn’t compromise fuel mileage. They must have boxed themselves in with the long and curved shapes of the ’70s (particularly GM), so the only way to say “new” that they could think of was “chop, chop”.
Basic Hilux of that era had a 5 speed tree shift same with the Nissan, they featured 3 across seating for skinny people vinyl seat facings too this is not basic Toyota by any means this one has either been altered or US models were upscale editions of the bare bones models we got.
5 speed column shift? Wow. Don’t believe I’ve ever even heard of one of those…
At my last job I was tasked with reviving a 90 Nissan Navara flat deck for another work ute it had great aircon diesel engine and 5 speed tree shift and obligatory bench seat, Jap utes had that spec virtually forever.
This is a deluxe model with its’ cloth bench with pull-down armrest.
Manual column shifts were popular in Japan on cars well into the ’70s, and on pickups for longer than that apparently, but since floor shift had become the norm in Europe and was considered sporty and expected on “foreign” cars in America, they stopped bothering with doing them in LHD after the first-generation Corona.
Make it a crew cab with a diesel, and it’d be perfect.
Had an 87 Nissan Hardbody and you could have been writing about it. It aged out at over 300k miles. Gave it to a friend and now treat my 4Runner just like I did the truck with a cap. My favorite vehicles ever.
Volkswagen builds its own pickup now, the Amarok. By the end of the eighties they had this, the Taro. A rebadged Toyota HiLux. And quite rare.
Second gen Taro, another HiLux-rebadge.
Still quite a few of these to be found–my old neighborhood in Richmond was home to at least half a dozen 70’s and 80’s Toyotas. Most had some degree of rust, but not enough to keep them from seeing regular use.
Almost every time I see one of this generation, especially if it’s a 4wd version, I can’t help but think of Marty McFly…
How bizarre, I had no idea they did a turbo version. Must have been a one-generation wonder. Oh, the turbocharged 1980s…
The turbo was also optional on the first gen 4-Runner.
Theres one in my town still chugging around but for whatever reason it has a Ford Ranger bed on it.
Want a basic truck that just lives and lives and lives on? Get one of these. Bought it at 200K,…? They can double that. As tough as a 2WD Ranger. Tractor of a truck. Maybe I’ll contribute someday and fill you in on great 2WD trucks that are great everyday soldiers. Yeah… I’m a truck fan.
Nice to see a clean one .
Most here in Los Angeles were raced to junk by kids , the remainder were snapped up by savvy gardeners as soon as the first owners let them go ~ they then run them right into the ground , by the time the driveline is kaput , the body looks like a prune from all the dents .
I have recently seen a very few in this good condition , driven by aging geezers .
I worked at a Toyota/Mazda dealer’s body shop in the mid-eighties. We saw plenty of these in SoCal. IIRC, the front bumpers on the 84-86 models had the plastic bumper ends, like this one. CHMSL appeared on 1995 and newer trucks. Pick-up bed models with the lip were referred to as Japanese beds (thanks to the Chicken Tax) built in Japan for the base models, shipped separately, and installed at the port. The smooth side bed was called an American bed and installed on SR5 packaged models. Either way, you can still find a several of these trucks roaming the streets. Expect to pay at least $2500 for one in decent shape. Many have reached well over 300,000 miles. I have sold two runners with over 400,000 miles each. They’re worth even more in Hawaii and Mexico.
My mother had one of these, a white ’85 given to her by a (very gracious) ex-boyfriend. All four of her children including me were born when she owned it. It survived low usage but almost zero maintenance until about 1999 when it was replaced by a 1990 Ford Escort. I remember it was a base model, floor-shift automatic with vinyl seats which were burning hot living in LA, and a plastic block off plate where the radio would have been. It was a long bed, something she remembers to distinguish it by.
These are still running around Los Angeles, used by gardeners, recyclers and every job imaginable since these came in some crazy bed configurations.
Cool. This will always be my favoritve “generation” of Toyota truck.
Seeing this made me want to share the link below.
It leads to the multi-page (14?) documentation of the custo-resto-whatevering our our completely and utterly “base-model” ’88 Toyota Pickup (NOT a Tacoma, Not a “4-Runner”…NOT a “Pre-Runner”)…a Pickup, thankyewverymuch. Hope some of y’all enjoy the ride.
After my sweetheart passed, this became a labor of love. Took a year and seven months. The “plain-jane Toyota truck” from this period will always be near and dear to my heart.
Currently she resides in a locked storage unit. I start her once a week or so, and drive her to Lockhart for Kreuz’ barbecue every month or so.
After I’m gone, she’ll be the first vehicle my best friend’s daughter learns to drive a standard in.