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Toyota's Reputation - Off Road Notes

Posted in Features on July 1, 2006
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Toyota. The marque has a well-deserved reputation for quality and toughness. Around the world, wherever vehicles are used for work, exploration, or fun, you'll find Toyotas of all ages and description.

The first Toyota I ever drove was my Dad's new '69 Corona four-door sedan. This was the first Toyota he ever drove too, and it started a love affair with the brand that lasted until his death. In fact, my Dad owned the very first Celica brought into the United States. In 1972, he was doing some work for Toyota (he owned a tool-and-die/injection-mold company called Euclid Engineering) and saw a good-looking white car sitting on a transporter. He asked what kind of car it was and was told it was the new Celica (pronounced "say-LEE-ca" then). He then asked if he could buy it and was told no, it was for the head of Toyota Motor Sales. After talking with that worthy and getting the OK to buy it, he wrote a check for $2,800.00 and drove his new Celica away, subsequently putting over 280,000 trouble-free miles on it. He then purchased a new Cressida and, later, an Avalon, which was his last car.

My first Toyota was a '75 Hilux two-wheel-drive pickup. It held up very well to the thrashing I gave it; although, at the end of its life I had to start it by either pulling it with my CJ-5 or by putting a paper plate over the carb to act as a choke. After the Hilux (pronounced, by the way, "HE-lux"), I purchased an '81 Toyota 4x4 pickup. I took that truck places I can't believe even now. It's still working today with its second owner and many, many miles on the clock!

My next Toyota pickup was an '86 4x4 SR5 with a 22RE four-banger and the new independent suspension. The truck was great, but I didn't like the independent front end very much. Someone else liked it though and stole it, so I purchased an '88 Toyota 4x4 SR5 pickup with the new 3.0L V-6. Hick's 4x4 and I installed the very first Detroit Locker in a V-6 rearend in this truck. It went all over the backcountry until I sold it a few years later. I wasn't sure I liked that 3.0 V-6 as well as the 22RE four-cylinder.

My next Toyota 4x4 was a '91 22RE pickup, built by All-Pro Off-Road, with a straight-axle swap, dual T-cases, suspension, and so on. I had to sell it when I moved to Utah as it didn't comply with the then-ridiculous suspension laws that we have since gotten changed. My last Toyota pickup was a '93 3.0 V-6 4x4 built with all the All-Pro pieces, including the flatbed kit. That truck ended up back at All-Pro Off-Road as a demo vehicle to show off the company's parts.

As you can see, I like Toyotas as much as I like Jeeps. Unlike some of the Jeeps I've owned, not ONE of my Toyotas has ever failed to get me back from the backcountry. I truly love their engineering, reliability, and toughness.

In this issue, we bring you features about which Toyota truck is which and what to look for when buying one, a guide to Toyota transfer cases, ultra-low transfer case tech, Tacoma features and tech, and even some trail rides that have either all Toyota, or mostly Toyota, vehicles on them. James Weber also got to spend some time with the brand-new FJ Cruiser, and you'll find his report here. In other words, this issue is a Toyotafest!

Even if you don't own a Toyota, we're sure you'll enjoy this issue for the travel and adventure features and the information you can garner from the tech and prerunner features. Thanks for reading.

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