Near our home here in suburban Tokyo is a Hino Motors Assembly Plant – I’m sure most CC Readers know Hino is Toyota’s truck and coach subsidiary. In addition to assembling a variety of both Hino buses and Toyota 4WD models, the plant also makes trucks for the Japanese Self Defense Forces. Located outside the plant are several vehicle overflow parking areas; and walking by one recently it dawned on me that here was my chance to get that Jim Dunne-like photo I’ve always dreamed of…
Well, not really. I imagine the fence is more for security than secrecy – these BXD10 models have been produced since the mid-1990’s. As you can see, Toyota cribbed quite a bit from then AM General and later GM’s High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV technical/HUMVEE colloquial).
HMV With Type 91 SAM System
Like the HUMVEE, they come in multiple versions – compared to the M-998, the BXD is a foot longer and a few inches taller — but about a foot narrower – it also weighs 1,000 lbs less. It differs from the HUMVEE in two other major areas; first, the engine is a Toyota 4.1 litre turbocharged inline four cylinder diesel, that puts out 153 hp and 282 ft lbs of torque. Second, the BXD has four-wheel steering, which results in significantly improved maneuverability and a tighter turning radius.
Similar to AM General and GM, Toyota built a civilian model; the Mega Cruiser (BXD20) – made from 1996 to 2002. Again, like the Hummer it came with portal axles, a fully independent suspension, full-time 4-wheel drive with locking front, center and rear differentials, inboard brakes set way up high against the differentials, and a central tire inflation system.
Japan Auto Federation (JAF) similar to AAA
It was offered to civilian police and fire agencies, and a limited number were sold to the public. But as you can imagine if you have ever driven on Japan’s narrow roads, it didn’t find many private buyers being over six feet wide. In addition, it was expensive – price for a 1996 model new was over $90,000. As a result, only 151 private owner Mega Cruisers left the factory over seven years. Today, if you can find one, they fetch over $100K.
So the civilian model left the scene in 2002, but the military model remains in production.
Speaking of the HUMVEE, I drove several different models during my military career – I hated them. While they were great off-road; could pretty much go up, down or across anything, inside they were terrible. With the wide tunnel running down the middle, there was very little interior room. Couple that with the typical M-series military vehicle seat adjustments – which is a semi-circle hinge that went forward one inch and back one inch – that was it for seat travel. With my height, I could stand about thirty minutes behind the wheel before the leg and back spasms started.
Anytime I was assigned a HUMVEE, I’d go to our Transportation section and swap it for a M-1009 which was a militarized mid-’80’s Blazer K5. Those, and the M-1008 pickup, had regular sliding seat tracks. We referred to these as “CUCKVEE’s” as they were called a Commercial Utility Cargo Vehicle (CUCV) in the purchase contract. Like the HUMVEE, both had the 6.2 litre GM diesel. Those couldn’t quite go as many places off-road as the HUMVEE but they were so much more comfortable.
Hey, a GI’s life is hard enough…