Curbside Classic: 1982 Toyota Truck – When Compact Pickups Roamed The Land

(first posted 5/9/2012)    About thirty years ago, Toyota pickups such as our featured CC were everywhere. And why not? They were tough, efficient, and hauled a fair amount of stuff. For those who needed a truck but not a BIG truck, this was a great compromise.

By the time the third generation Hilux debuted in the late summer of 1978, Toyota was already firmly entrenched in the United States market. Starting small in the late Fifties, Toyota gradually built momentum.

The first Toyota pickup sold in the states was the Stout, which looked an awful lot like an early ’60s International pickup. While it was available for a few years, it was not exactly a big seller. It successor would be much more popular.

The first Toyota Hilux came out in 1968. All in all, it looked very similar to the contemporary Datsun pickup. Both the Datsun and Toyota mini-trucks were very popular during the late ’60s and early ’70s. The first Hilux featured a 1.5L four cylinder engine (in home market versions) which was bumped to 1.6 liters in 1971. US-bound 1969 models came with a four speed manual transmission and the 3R inline four, good for 84 hp. It was replaced with a 97 horsepower 8R SOHC I4 for 1970-71. A long wheelbase Hilux was added to the range in 1969, though it was not available in the North American market until 1972. The second generation version (shown above) was introduced in spring of 1972, for the 1973 model year.

The second gen 1973 Hilux lost the “upside down” headlight and turn signal design for a conventional arrangement that was not all that different from the Corolla. Despite being all new, it didn’t look drastically different from the 1968-72 model. It retained the 2.0L, 109 hp 18R inline four cylinder that original Hiluxes received in 1972. Also new was a long bed option for greater hauling capacity. 1975 models had a number of improvements, inlcuding fitment of a larger 2.2 liter engine and an available five speed manual. Another change was that the “Hilux” name was dropped on US models, becoming simply the Truck.

In 1979, the third generation Truck came onto the scene. Like its earlier brothers, these were tough little trucks. True, you weren’t going to be towing a horse trailer or RV with it, but you could haul quite a lot and not be overly beholden to the gas pump. The body was more modern, with a front end that no longer had any resemblance to 1960s models. Big news came in 1979, when a four wheel drive version became available, called simply the 4WD. The 4WD was also the first Toyota Truck available with an automatic transmission. These models would continue until 1983, to be replaced with the more modern “Marty McFly” edition.

I had just had lunch with my sister and was walking out to the car when I spotted this remarkably clean (for the Midwest) Truck. I am not really familiar with these trucks, but I believe it is a 1982 due to the rectangular headlights. Most of these pickups disappeared from the streets when I was in 5th or 6th grade, so seeing this one still in service was a treat. I really like the simple lines and practicality of 1970s and early 1980s Japanese cars, but they are nearly extinct here. I saw it again today, in the same spot, so whoever owns it must work around here.

It’s probably a good thing this is in Iowa, or Michael Freeman might be tempted to make an offer!