HIS­TORY: 50 YEARS OF TOY­OTA HILUX

IT’S BEEN THE STAL­WART OF THE ONE-TONNE UTE MAR­KET AND THE VE­HI­CLE WHICH OTH­ERS ARE BENCHMARKED AGAINST. AS IT MARKS 50 YEARS IN PRO­DUC­TION, TOY­OTA’S HILUX HAS PLENTY OF FRESH COM­PE­TI­TION BUT RE­MAINS THE MOST POP­U­LAR PROD­UCT IN ITS CAT­E­GORY.

4 x 4 Australia - - Contents - WORDS MATT RAUDONIKIS

IT’S THE only ute to have been driven to both the North and South Poles; it has com­peted in the world’s tough­est cross­coun­try ral­lies in­clud­ing the Dakar; it is the only ute to ever top Aus­tralia’s an­nual new-ve­hi­cle sales charts; and it has been on sale here for nearly five decades, with more than 750,000 units sold. It is, of course, the ‘unbreakable’ Toy­ota Hilux, a ve­hi­cle that is found on ru­ral prop­er­ties, work­sites, cat­tle sta­tions, high­ways and in garages all over Aus­tralia.

Used by trades­men, farm­ers, min­ers, gov­ern­ment or­gan­i­sa­tions, telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pa­nies, recre­ational four-wheel driv­ers, fish­er­men, car­a­van­ners, and any­one who needs a load-car­ry­ing ve­hi­cle to get them to the far­reach­ing cor­ners of Aus­tralia; the ver­sa­til­ity of the Hilux is the key to its un­ri­valled suc­cess. It has plenty of chal­lengers for its throne, but no other ute comes close to the Hilux’s pop­u­lar­ity both here and around the world.

Now in its eighth gen­er­a­tion, to­day’s Hilux is avail­able in more than 30 vari­ants: sin­gle­cab, ex­tra-cab and dou­ble-cab bod­ies; ute back and cab-chas­sis; two- and four-wheel drive; and three dif­fer­ent en­gine op­tions with a choice of au­to­matic and man­ual gear­boxes. There’s a Hilux to suit ev­ery­one, no mat­ter your use for it.

The suc­cess of the Hilux in Aus­tralia came from early on. As the swing­ing ’60s drew to a close, Ja­panese cars were still feel­ing their way in the Aus­tralian mar­ket. Funny brand names such as Dat­sun, Toy­ota and Honda were rel­a­tively new and few buy­ers were keen to pur­chase the un­known cars built in Asian coun­tries. Aus­tralians drove Hold­ens, Fords, Chryslers, Vaux­halls, Mor­rises and any­thing else de­rived from the USA or the Old Dart.

Cer­tainly our utes came from the pop­u­lar Ford and Holden brands, as only they were deemed tough and durable enough to han­dle the harsh lo­cal con­di­tions. But Ja­panese utes from Dat­sun, Isuzu and Toy­ota were edg­ing in, find­ing their niche and des­tined to take over the Aussie util­ity mar­ket.

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