Curbside Classic On The Go: I Snag My First Gen1 (1969-1972) Toyota Hilux Pickup

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This town is crawling with old Toyota pickups; there’s gobs of the gen2 variety ( I did a CC on them over at the old place, which I’ll have to bring over). But the gen1, with its distinctive stand-up front turn signals, has eluded me all these years. Until the other day, that is (it pays to check one’s rear view mirror regularly).

Toyota Hilux gen1

Needless to say, the Toyota Hilux pickup is a global icon and institution. But let’s not forget, that Toyota was playing ketchup when this pickup was introduced in the US in 1969.

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Datsun started selling its little pickups in the US ten years earlier (1959), and pretty much established themselves here on the strength of its mini-trucks. And Datsuns were by far the number one selling compact pickups for quite a while, well into the seventies, as far as I know.

Toyota Stout 1967_02USA

OK; Toyota did have the larger Stout, and was selling those in the US, but in pretty modest numbers. It must have become clear to Toyota that the market was for the smaller trucks, like Datsun was peddling successfully. Although in retrospect, the Stout rather made more sense for the US, and was a foreshadowing of the larger compact trucks to come.

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It’s been a week and a half since this encounter, and somehow, he got ahead of me without me getting off a shot of him passing me (on the right, undoubtedly). Now that I think of it, I think I was turning left, and had to do some crazy maneuver to catch up with him, because I was determined to get some useful shots.

Anyway, the Stout was replaced by this Hilux in 1969, and was sold through the 1972 MY, when it was replaced by that more common gen2 version. The biggest first automotive impression I had in 1972 upon entering the smoggy bowels of the LA Basin, on I-15, coming down the Cajon Pass into San Bernardino, was the large number of little Japanese trucks on the freeway. There were a couple around in Iowa, but they were pretty uncommon. In the LA area, these were everywhere, the cool thing for young kids to drive, if not a slightly customized VW Beetle.

Needless to say, these were Toyota tough, except against that damn salt. The R-series motors would run 200-300k miles without serious issues, something that was not so commonplace back then. That’s how Toyota earned its rep back then.

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Looking at these pictures in sequence as I shot them make little sense today, since we’re now headed back in the same direction we were coming from. No; I remember now, he was coming out from one of the many wood product mills at quitting time, and this was his way of getting over the train tracks. Whatever. But it does confirm that these trucks were badged HILUX on their flanks.

I distinctly remember Jack Baruth getting all huffy and self-righteous in one of his posts at TTAC, about how folks called Toyota trucks Hiluxes erroneously, and how they were never actually badged “Hilux” in the US. He was in his diapers when this was being sold, so what would he know on the subject?

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There it is. It’s my signature to end my CCs with a profile shot, and it took some doing. This guy was looking at me and probably wondering WTF is that dude in the XBox doing following me and passing me and taking pictures all the while? Speaking of, how the hell are we suddenly switched in our relative positions? I was so engrossed in this little chase, I really can’t make sense of it anymore.

Actually, folks who drive older vehicles get a kick out of my stalking and paparazzi maneuvers; we all want a little attention, right? And if you’re driving a forty year old Toyota Hilux, you’re not likely to get it that often.