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.
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.