COAL: 1986 Toyota Deluxe Xtra Cab – Chapter 10, L’il Red

This photo is not my truck, mine was red and had a matching Snugtop.  The only photo I could find of my truck was of a portion of the left front fender 🙁  There are several photo’s of red Toyota Deluxe Xtra cab trucks on line but they’re all 4×4’s and mine was a 4×2 like the truck in this photo.

Fittingly this photo looks like it was taken in the hills east of Los Angeles and I was supporting a testing program at a facility out by Riverside, Ca when I got my truck.

As I said in my previous post this truck was much nicer then the newer Nissan that I was driving when my brother decided to buy a 1991 Eagle Talon TSI in January.

My Deluxe Xtra Cab was a gray market import.  The original owner was a family friend who was working in Saudi Arabia and shipped it to home to the US when he came back to the states.  My brother bought it from him in 1988 (or 1989) when he got stationed at NAS Alameda.  Despite our dad being an Army Air Corp Veteran we both ended up in the Navy.  The Air Force would have offered comparable technical training but the Navy was more generous with rank (therefore they paid more).

When I bought it in January 1991 the original window sticker and owners manual (both in Japanese) were in the glove box.  I believe that I still have the original window sticker but couldn’t lay my hands on it when I went looking for a photo.

Despite being a “Deluxe” truck it was sparingly equipped.  It was a 2WD model with the 22R engine, a manual transmission, cloth seats and crank windows. Surprisingly for a vehicle originally delivered in Saudi Arabia it lacked Air Conditioning.  When I moved to Texas the following spring I had air conditioning installed before driving across the southwest deserts.

The NHSTSA vin decoder says that it was a 1/2 ton DLX, 4×2 with the extra long wheel base built by Toyota Motor Corporation at its Tahara Plant in TAHARA, AICHI, JAPAN with a 4 cylinder 22R/22R-EC/22R-TEC engine.  CarFAX returned a hit on the VIN (jt4rn70d2g0001679) so it might still exist.

I’ve got a scan of the California Title and it doesn’t have an odometer reading listed.  It had just over 178,000 miles when the engine thrust washer dropped out in 1996 and allowed the crankshaft to damage the block.  Having been purchased overseas the engine wasn’t US Spec and needed to be replaced with an engine from Japan.  The estimate for getting an engine out of Japan was 8 – 10 weeks.  I had just started a Commercial Pilot training course and needed reliable transportation so I sold the truck to my mechanic.  He ended up waiting 3 months for an engine.  When I moved out of Houston 4 years later he was still using it as his shop truck.

The various configurations of this truck were common enough that they were a target for theft for parts.  The first week that I was supporting the testing program of Poly Alpha Olefin (think R-134) replacements for Freon I was meeting a colleague and leaving my truck at a hotel near his house so that we could take advantage of the car pool lanes.  One day when he dropped me off the vent window on the passenger side had been smashed.  I’m not sure if the thief was after the aftermarket stereo or the plastic trim piece around it.  I suspect it was the trim piece as 3 of the 4 screw holding it in place had been removed.  If he’d been after the radio he could have torn the trim piece and removed the radio without removing the screws.  He also left undisturbed the roll of quarters and the music CD’s that were sitting in plain view.  IIRC the vent window was secured to the vehicle by one screw and cost all of $15 for a new one.  The radio trim piece on the other hand was not available for purchase (from Toyota).  Aside from that window and adding air conditioning I spent no money on the truck that wasn’t scheduled maintenance until the thrust washer failure.

About a year after I moved to Houston I bought a 30′ Sailboat and moved aboard.  I started hanging out at a local sandwich shop / beer joint (aka a Boater Bar) a few blocks from the marina where I was living that had live music on Friday and Saturday nights.  The owner (also a University of Arizona Alum) had a red 1985 Standard Cab Toyota.  His locks (door and ignition) were a little sloppy.  One night around closing time my phone rang.  His truck was missing and mine was still at the bar…  I’d accidentally taken his back to the marina.  I’m not saying that I was probably inebriated, but like I said his was a Standard Cab (and didn’t have a cap).

At the time this truck died I’d owned it for 5 ½ years and believed that the only vehicle I’d owned longer was my first motorcycle.  (I didn’t know at the time that I still owned the 1944 Willys Army Jeep.). I replaced it with a 1996 Eagle Talon (chapter 12) that went to the scrapper in September of 2014.