The Aficionado’s Guide to the Toyota Truck

The most bad-ass 4X4 may not be what you had in mind.

Think of the coolest pickup truck imaginable. Got it? If there isn’t a 50-caliber machine gun mounted in the bed of this truck, your imagination has failed you. Here’s what should come to mind: the Toyota Hilux, a truck so durable it’s called “The Indestructible Truck.” As evidence, witness the producers of BBC’s Top Gear doing their best to destroy a 1988 diesel Hilux by “driving it down a flight of steps, crashing headlong into a tree, being washed out to sea, being submerged in sea water for four hours, driving it through a garden shed, dropping a caravan onto it, hitting it with a wrecking ball, setting its cabin on fire” and, finally, placing it atop building that was imploded. And still the truck started and ran.

The Toyota truck was originally built to win wars, as are many of the best trucks in history. Think of the iconic Jeep Willys, or the classic Humvee (affectionately called a Hummer)—both products of the American war machine gearing up for battle. Great trucks are also built for conquering (what is the stagecoach, the primary vehicle of Western pioneering, but the first SUV?). The Land Rover, today an elegant and highly capable AWD, has long been the chosen whip of English gentility—even that was the main purveyance of European colonial forces in the 20th century.The first generation of the iconic Land Cruiser rolled off the factory floor in 1951, and eventually evolved into the FJ40, which might well be the most capable offroad truck ever made.

The first Toyota truck didn’t arrive in the United States until the the awkwardly-named Stout landed in 1964. The following year, the FJ40 was the top-selling Toyota in the US. Since its production run finally ended in 1984, it has become a collector’s item. 

Today, we ogle the boxy, beatific FJ70, and we applaud the risky design of the FJ Cruiser. The brand new Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro, which has become known very affentionately as the “Taco Supreme,” is the roughest and tumblest Toyotas ever to land on American shores—though, of course, it’s actually manufactured in Texas, California, and Mexico. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a Taco with a 50-caliber oin the bed, but it’s still the heir to the Indestructible Truck mantle. This is Maxim‘s visual walking tour of our favorite truck legacy.

Photos by Toyota