The Toyota HiLux has been a powerhouse in the Australian vehicle scene since landing on our shores in the late 1960s. The modern HiLux is a favourite of tradies, off-road adventurers, and city slickers wanting a workhorse that also fits the family – and it has an interesting story to boot.
High Luxury: The Beginnings in Japan
Interestingly, the first Toyota HiLux was actually not made by Toyota. The company turned around the design for the HiLux – a melding of “High Luxury” – fairly quickly after taking over Hino and letting that company turn their attention to the burgeoning truck market, but the early generations came from Hino’s factory. The original mid-1960s model was a successor of Toyota’s Lite Stout and Hino’s heavier Briska, combined to produce a light commercial vehicle with the flexibility of a city runabout.
Fun fact: The original HiLux was the first-time curved glass was used in a light commercial vehicle.
Thanks to Japan’s narrow manufacturing restrictions and Australia’s need for gutsy vehicles, the original four-speed 1.5L HiLux was slow to take off here. Our growing agriculture and mining industries preferred the more powerful Ford F-series. One advantage for the Japanese ute was that it was relatively cheap, even with high import tariffs and unfavourable exchange rates.
Toyota Truck: The Second Generation
1972, four years after the first HiLux rolled off the Hino production line, the second generation, designed to primarily appeal to the US market, was released (and named the Toyota Truck). The expanded range came in two-wheel base lengths and borrowed most of the engine and gearbox from its predecessor. Despite an aggressive marketing campaign, tight emissions regulations in America and the languishing 2WD components meant the HiLux faced some resistance getting traction.
But it did, and in 1978 the third generation came in three lengths and four wheelbase variants with options for an extended cab and more powerful diesel engine following soon after. There were still improvements to be made, but Australia was starting to take notice of the Japanese powerhouse on the horizon.
Australia Embraces the HiLux
It wasn’t until the fifth generation, released in 1988 with less body variants (only one), but a whole lot more going on in the engine and underbody, for Australia to really embrace the HiLux ute. This version was ready for the rugged demands of Australia’s rough terrain, partially thanks to a Toyota-VW agreement that saw the new generation released as the VW Taro.
From the early 1990s until now the HiLux and its 4Runner and Surf siblings have remained firm favourites in our part of the world – and we should know, since Robson Bros got into servicing Perth HiLux models around the mid-90s.
Wide Body and More Power
Shifting production to Thailand for the seventh HiLux generation meant two things; less import taxes, thanks to the Australian-Thai free trade agreement, and a wider body fit for three Aussies seated side by side. It’s no surprise sales shot up. The 4.0 litre V6 engine paired with an improved chassis borrowed from the Prado packed a 175kW wallop. It was Australia’s most powerful full chassis ute, which also meant increased safety specs that appealed to families and industry alike.
Strength to Strength
We are big fans of the latest model HiLux released in 2015. The sleek body and powerful guts make it a dream for city jobs, family adventures, and off-road escapes. As Perth’s expert HiLux service centre we often see beefed up and stripped-down models coming through our workshop but one thing stays constant; the Toyota HiLux is a downright popular ute.
When you want personal, professional service for your beloved Toyota HiLux then come and see Robson Brothers 4WD – nobody else in Perth knows how to look after them like we do!