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Why rebel groups love the Toyota Hilux (newsweek.com)
246 points by bron on Oct 15, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 160 comments

Please note that the US military uses Hiluxes extensively in Iraq (and to some extent, in Afghanistan), too. We sold a bunch of Ford Rangers to the Iraqi and Afghan militaries (poor guys; those trucks are ok but the rear drum brakes consistently freeze up when parked in cold muddy conditions).

The best truck is a hilux with the ignition rigged to just require a toggle switch to turn on, and the inverted "T" for center of gravity calculations when sling loading (and the dry weight in kilos marked on the side) on some duct tape on the side.

Sometimes I've seen the rear seats turned sideways to serve as side gunners, with a pintle mount in the cargo bed (either on the light bar for forward arc only, or in the middle of the bed for 360 degree). Usually the US only does that with bigger trucks like the Silverado.

I wish I could get a small common-rail diesel truck in the US, or maybe a diesel-electric hybrid, on the hilux chassis. A truck that size which could be a decent remote site electric generator would be amazing.

Keep an eye out for the Mahindra&Mahindra(India) Diesel truck which should land in the US by 2011Q1.

Or most Russian pick-ups

which Russian pick-ups are scheduled to be sold in US in the coming future?

The problem with small diesel trucks in the US, aside from consumer perception, is that certain states (e.g. California) have emissions regulations which make it very difficult to pass (particulates, nitrous oxides). Additionally, until 2008-2010, US diesel fuel was really high sulfur, which killed most emissions control systems. (the irony is now European fuel is higher sulfur). I think trucks under a certain weight had to comply with different emissions regulations (passenger car vs. truck), and without being able to sell in all 50 states, it was uneconomic to import.

The Mahindra trucks just cleared EPA tests in the US.

Guess we'll have to use vegetable oil.

Unfortunately most of the common rail/high tech diesels are less compatible with vegetable-derived fuels than the older tech diesels. You can run biodiesel in some, but often not B100 -- but in the old diesels, you could run straight vegetable oil.

Truck noob question, what's an inverted "T"?

The letter T, upside down, used to mark center of gravity for when you lift it on a sling underneath a helicopter. (total weight in Kg is also written on the tape)

All this talk remind me of the Isuzu Pup/Chevy Luv diesel pickups.

I started and ran an import company for 7 years up in Canada, importconcern.ca, and we imported cars and parts from Japan. All of the cars were typically quite cheap at auction, except for one specific model of the Hilux - the Pick-up model. The regular Hilux Surf would cost anywhere from $4,000-$6,000 in total (very cheap), but the Hilux Pick-ups would run $10,000+ for one in somewhat decent condition.

We could never pinpoint exactly the reason for the higher Pick-up prices but we long suspected it was likely due to their possible use in war environments. And this article was interesting to read because it somewhat confirms our suspicion. Thanks for the post!

I've seen ImportConcern from some car forums before. JDM Skylines in particular have always been in demand, and everyone was looking/waiting for R32/R33/R34 GTR's. Small world, glad to know your business is still up and running!

There are definitely tons of awesome cars coming out in the next few years. I actually sold IC two summers ago to one of our good customers and he is the one currently running the operation. Christian and I are now in the middle of building websites and hoping for one to gain some traction. It's definitely cool to see importconcern is a recognized company!

I used to check your site all the time. When my big payoff comes, I'm buying a souped up AE86. :)

That's awesome! We had some pretty crazy traffic over the years. The AE86 are also surprisingly expensive, but I think that mostly due to Initial D :P

Just as interesting to me is how the maple leaf on the vehicle came to signal high quality, a notion that then went viral to the point that people tattoo themselves with it.

I wonder if it was just the trucks that caused that though... Canadian troops have been operating in Afghanistan since 2001... many of them have maple leaf tattoos... (I should know, I was one)

How long before you guys start getting pulled aside for "enhanced screening"?

I think it's called "enhanced interrogation"?

reminds me of the time when every fishing boat in England flew the Canadian flag because it signalled opposition to the EU Common Fisheries Policy and alleged Spanish over-fishing http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turbot_War

Why did the Canadians send the trucks in the first place? I assume it was when the Taleban were fighting the Soviets for us.

Hearts and minds winning or perhaps government building. Trucks are very useful at putting a country back together.

Right, probably misdirected government aid.

"when the Taleban were fighting the Soviets for us."

Was this right before Regan sent lasers to space and won the cold war?


From your link...

The United States began training insurgents in, and directing propaganda broadcasts into Afghanistan from Pakistan in 1978.[54] Then, in early 1979, U.S. foreign service officers began meeting insurgent leaders to determine their needs.[55]


US "Paramilitary Officers" from the CIA's Special Activities Division were instrumental in training, equipping and sometimes leading Mujihadeen forces against the Soviet Army.

Not Taliban, but relevant... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegations_of_CIA_assistance_t...

Without CIA's backing it's almost certain the PDPA would have remained in power and Afghanistan wouldn't be the mess it is today, but saying the Taliban was around in the 80s is also misleading: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_war_in_Afghanistan_(1992–...

Further evidence from Top Gear


Here's the second part where they put it on top of the towerblock and demolish it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YfZDtC9kjVk

Demolish the building, yes.

I wish they hadn't done obvious work on the car during it--you can see they installed reinforcement bars and replaced the windshield halfway in, before they started dropping stuff on it. If they made such obvious improvements, I don't believe for a second they didn't make less obvious ones (say during the sea water).

Still a hell of a truck.

They added a plexiglass windshield halfway because it's dangerous to drive without one. They did mention this.

Which Unix kernel is the analog of this truck? i.e., keeps chugging under extreme CPU/memory/IO/interrupts/multithreading load?

Amiga Workbench, while not a Unix was very capable of this. I used to do 3D Renders in Imagine while making music on OctaMED SoundStudio without drops. Likewise, you could usually carry on during heavy floppy access, whereas most other OSes of the day would hang temporarily.

Absolutely amazing.

Beat me to in! :)

It's linked from the article.

Some of those, maybe 3, are in fact land cruisers and not Hiluxes.

It's interesting that Afghan (presumably Islamist) insurgents would have any tatoos, considering that these are frowned upon in Islam.

EDIT: Not sure what's getting a negative reaction here. I was just pointing out an apparent inconsistency in the story - interviewees/journalists are known to embellish sometimes and they can get tripped up on little details.

As a Muslim, that was my first reaction. It seems very odd. I can imagine African rebels, or South American rebels getting into the tattoo thing, but in Afghanistan, it just seems out of place. They ban the Beatles haircut, but tattoos are okay?

I've always gotten the impression that Afghan rebels, unless they're explicitly Al Qaeda (in which case they're not usually from Afghanistan), are more nationalists than Islamists.

The now-defunct Northern Alliance were nationalists, led by Massoud. The Taliban (and I suspect most of the other insurgent groups) are Islamists.

To be clear, Afghanistan has a long history of people changing alliances very quickly, depending on circumstance. Although groups may present themselves as Islamist, that doesn't necessarily mean that their membership have a strong ideological allegiance, and are simply involved as a matter of convenience.

This happens in a lot of conflicts, where people often side up based much more on pragmatic concerns (protection, for instance) than ideology. Also evidenced that when conflicts end, many move towards other political ideals, since the advantages of operating under a particular umbrella no longer apply.

This may be why individuals within Islamist groups get tattoos of Canadian flags: It's not really about establishing a Caliphate or enacting strict Islamic rule for them.

I would guess that most Afghan fighters are more tribalist than either Islamist or nationalist.

You've gotten the impression that the Taliban are nationalists rather than Islamists? Where have you gotten that impression from?

No, the Taliban, as an organization, are Islamist. However, the ideology of the membership of any insurgent organization within an active conflict is always much more complicated than the professed beliefs of their parent organization.

Didn't the 9/11 terrorists go to strip clubs and drink alcohol? The bullies enforcing the rules often tend to see themselves as above them.

Isn't it just tatoos mourning the dead?

No, permanent tattoos overall are frowned upon in Islam. Temporary ones however are ok. Maybe this maple leaf thing is a temporary tattoo..

What's the reasoning? Like, tattoos in general, or tattoos of people? Muslims don't seem to have a problem with wearing insignia in general.

Permanent tattoos in general because one is unnecessarily making a permanent change to their body for the purpose of beautification. And in general, that's forbidden. More info: http://www.islamqa.com/en/ref/20283

I suppose that's why they don't shave either?

> one is unnecessarily making a permanent change to their body for the purpose of beautification

What kind of shaving do you do?

A man shaves every day he will go his entire life without a beard, is that not permanent?

In any case you can't shave on the last day of your life.

or Jews that live in Tel Aviv?

It's interesting that American (presumably Christian) citizens would murder, considering that murder is frowned upon in Christianity.

If they are theocrats who "locked men in shipping containers" till their beards grew (article), then the fact that they have tattoos in violation of religious norms is odd. Either that or someone embellished the story.

Surely you are not suggesting the Taliban represents the ideal implementation (the norm) of Islam?

The full quote is from the penultimate paragraph (which, btw, is referring to a New York Times article from November 23, 2001)...

The New York Times piece on Mullah Omar’s car also noted that during Taliban rule in Afghanistan, the Hilux and its larger sibling the Landcruiser “provided ideal platforms for intimidation and enforcement.” The Taliban rode around “ready to leap down and beat women for showing a glimpse of ankle or to lock a man in a shipping container for three weeks until his beard grew to the approved length. Or, most dismal, to drag an accused adulterer or blasphemer to the soccer stadium for execution.”

Given that this story was recently submitted, it can be gathered that the tattoos observed by David Kilcullen were not from Taliban fighters in 2001.

The article does not indicate any of the tattooed insurgent fighters are Taliban, or even Muslim.

My original point being, every religion has various tenets which are followed/obeyed in different degrees by various members of said religion. Some call them "sects" or "denominations".

Strange that it's so prevalent globally and yet the US commander can still claim that it's "a sign you’re dealing with Al Qaeda".

Similar to the story posted here a while ago about people being arrested as terrorists on the evidence that they wore some totally generic casio wristwatch.

Wikipedia's List of Guantanamo Bay detainees accused of possessing Casio watches: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Guantanamo_Bay_detainee...

Strange that it's so prevalent globally and yet the US commander can still claim that it's "a sign you’re dealing with Al Qaeda".

He was a little more careful than that: "It’s a bit of a sign you’re dealing with Al Qaeda when you come across them in Pakistan.".

I lived in the Zambian bush for a year, there it was usually a sign you were dealing with the catholic church... thats the truck the priests drove.

edit: Here its being used for public transportation, tail gate town for increased storage space http://yfrog.com/c8fxbj

Rhodesian War?

The white coloured Hilux are used in Singapore by the Police force.

I got that watch for Xmas 1995. When I was 7. I guess because it's the cheapest "name brand" watch. And it's basically kid proof.

That's crazy. They should come with warning labels or something so people don't accidentally buy them.

So instead of checking Edmunds for reliability, I should just check what the insurgents drive on warzones. Seriously, those guys have no alterior motives, they just need rock-hard reliability.


It's a vote of confidence, yes, but insurgents look at more than just reliability when making their purchasing decisions. They also like the fact that Hilux-specific spare parts and expertise are relatively common in Afghanistan. And they like that they can add machine-gun turrets to it. Presumably you don't care about a truck's performance on those dimensions.

"When they dug it out of the rubble, all it took to get it running again was hammers, wrenches, and WD-40."

OK, I'm impressed.

Its frame was broken, but they (Top Gear) drove it off the rubble and, later, into the studio. They ended up putting it up on display in their live studio, you can see it sometimes when the camera moves around.

Even more impressive was when it got washed out to sea (possibly a later episode?) and they rescued it full of sand - all it took was a clean and some fiddling for the (clogged) engine to run again.

Or when they torched it (literally dropped a large, burning torch in the cab).

It's an extremely popular and durable truck, and yet in North America we don't get to have it. Blame it on people wanting bigger and comfier trucks instead of real workhorses.

We did for many years. Or to be precise, a version with a slightly different body. Like the article said, that truck was basically bulletproof -- it was a tank on wheels. It was way, way overbuilt for what it was intended to do and that's why they last so long and are so popular with offroaders (the reason I got mine!). Typically the bodies rust out after about 10-15 years but the rest of the truck: engine, frame, driveline, etc is still rock solid so there was an aftermarket industry in fiberglass bodies.

I sold mine (1987 4x4) with 130,000 miles on it for about $2,000 in 2005 and it would probably have gone another 100,000 easily with minimal maintenance. The kid who bought it got a hell of a deal (it was pretty heavily modified by the time I sold it) and he was grinning from ear to ear when he drove off.

The Tacoma was the "new, improved, bigger version."

There is an even more awsome version available in North AMerica/Canada. The Mine car version is built for underground mine use.

Basically the original Hilux with sealed bearing everywhere, guards over everything that can break when a rock drops on it, loads of power take-offs and an interior that you can wash down with a hose.

It even has cup holders (although not a multi-screen DVD surround sound)

Care to give a link (or an easily searchable name) for this "Mine car version" ?

Not 100% sure this is the same but it looks plausible:


Look for 'mine spec', at least that's what it's called in Australia. E.g. http://www.google.com/search?q=mine+spec+hilux

We did, for some time. A pre-Tacoma Toyota 'pickup' is a Hilux. I drive an '88 and it's still in great shape.

My wife had an 88 SR5 pickup when we met. Now we have an 88 land cruiser and a 74 fj40

My uncle had one in the 80s. You can get it in Mexico. It's not that important in the rest of North America because we have legitimate roads that go almost everywhere. When I lived in a driving state, I had a 4WD Tacoma and it was overkill for almost every situation I encountered.

I thought it was known as the Tacoma in North America?

Tacoma looks the same but it is overall weaker than the Hilux

Are you sure about that? The Wikipedia articles for the Hilux[1] and the Tacoma[2] make no mention of this. The Hilux article heavily implies the Tacoma is the same truck, just under a different name.

Ah way down in the sixth generation section it says: "The Tacoma frame differs from the Hilux frame, although both appear similar from the outside. Both the Tacoma and Hilux variants are sold in Mexico."

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_Hilux [2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_Tacoma

The Hilux has a solid front axle while the Tacoma has a wishbone suspension, IIRC. The latter while good for high speed travel on road and sand, lacks performance in wilderness and rocky terrain. It is the reason the Hilux outperforms the HUMVEE in Afghanistan and Pakistan. As well the Tacoma does not have a diesel option (one of the main reasons it survived submersion).

On another note the Suzuki Samurai is another off-road vehicle that is virtually indestructible.

My understanding is that the (no longer produced) T100 is the closest equivalent NA gets to the Hilux, it has a fully boxed frame and was offered in a 1-ton form (with larger brakes).


The venerable 1st generation 4Runner was essentially a 4th gen HiLux. The original 4Runner is still remembered as an extremely dependable and overbuilt vehicle here in the US.

It must have been available at some point - because it appears in the Back to the Future series as Marty's truck. Unless it wasn't called a Hilux.

I always assumed it was a T100.

The truck in Back to the Future was a Pickup, not a T100: http://www.tundrasolutions.com/forums/out-of-production-truc...

But was it called a Hilux or not?

No, the North American (or maybe just US) models were just called "Pickup". What most of the world called the Hilux Surf was called the 4Runner in the US.

Well, in Australia the pickup version was always called the 'Hilux'. I know of a plumber with a 1982 model with 300,000kms on it and it's still going strong.

The 'wagon' version was also called the '4Runner' in Austraila, but,because of used Japanese imports, you're more likely to see a 'surf' than a 4Runner.

I find it very odd that manufacturers seem to always choose a different model name in the USA, despite worldwide success with the original model name. Golf-Rabbit-Golf springs to mind.

From what I can tell, up to 1997, the Toyota pickup truck sold in the US was essentially the Hilux.

I think they have it in Mexico, or at some point they imported a bunch of them. In my east LA neighborhood I see them all over the place, they are a staple of junk haulers and gardeners

So is being on the top of a building being imploded really that bad? It's a free fall for most of it, but the impact is cushioned a bit by the layers below you collapsing when they hit the ground. And there is not much debris that will hit you if you are on the top.

If they had parked it at the base, it would probably be flat.

When was the last time you tried dropping your car off a skyscraper?

The Hilux is also used by many oil companies in Africa, making it a status symbol, and so often purchased by people who have money/power and want to show off a bit.

So it's not just practical reasons, the Hilux is a status car. It's also the best selling car in South Africa in total, so it's used as a normal vehicle, not just for offroad.

Not ytue in West Africa. If you want to show status/money, get an Escalade or a Land Cruiser.

I used a Hilux in West Cameroon on the muddy/mountain side roads in the rainy season. It is very reliable.

Its predecessor - Toyota Stout, has no "Four-Wheel", yet on First Gear, it is more stable climbing muddy hills in bad weather than an F350 or any Chevy its size

There are many status cars, just because a Hilux is one of them does not mean an Escalade or Land Cruiser is not. And cameroun is not "West Africa" according to the normal definition - it's central Africa.

And I doubt that those American cars you mention are very popular across West Africa, usually Japanese cars or European cars are used.

West Cameroon (or Southern Cameroon) is West Africa. Cameroun (or La Republique du Cameroun or East Cameroon) is Central Africa

The AK-47: 'The Gun' That Changed The Battlefield

Transcript of Terry Gross' interview with the author:


http://www.jwz.org/doc/worse-is-better.html seems relevant when talking about the AK-47

Why? The AK-47 seems quite sophisticated.

AK-47 is the simplest automatic weapon that I've seen. When I was in high-school I could take it apart in 7-8 seconds. It's simplicity and reliability are remarkably astounding.

You took apart AK-47's in high school?

When Soviet Union still existed, we had weekly "civil defence" classes where we were taught a number of interesting things such as what to do in case of a nuclear attack, why we will win the war and what to do with the weapons (boys) or how to cater for the wounded (girls).

Disassembly/assembly of AK47 was one of routine exercises, we even had competitions on who could do it the fastest.

Those were mandatory classes, just like regular subjects (math, physics and etc) with the exams and grades counting towards your equivalent of GPA. Some schools had after hours clubs where those who were interested could learn more.

I liked those classes a lot, because we got to shoot some weapons (mostly air guns, but sometimes small caliber rifles) for free.

The teacher was a retired sergeant who taught us sharpshooting even though his eyesight was so poor that he had to wear two pairs of glasses, one on top of another. True story...

This is pretty interesting. Where was this?

The teacher was a retired sergeant who taught us sharpshooting even though his eyesight was so poor that he had to wear two pairs of glasses, one on top of another. True story...

Ha, sounds like my dad. He used to coach the local junior rifle team. Retired Marine and old enough his eyes got tired after taking one or two shots, but a very good coach.

  This is pretty interesting. Where was this?
Across the USSR. Lithuania was a part of it during my school years (except for the last couple of months, Lithuania proclaimed renewed independence in March 1990, I graduated in June) and we had this course too. We even had two-weeks of kind of military camp after the 10th grade.

Like TY said it was standard practice. It is 21 or 22 seconds total to take apart and build it back to get a "pass" grade.

Los Angeles public school ?

I think he meant Al Qaeda High School.

There are numerous simpler automatic weapons. British Stan, Soivet ППШ/ППС, Israel Uzi etc.

Simpler, yes, but of the ones you cite I think only the Uzi has comparable reliability. It has been said to me that an unlettered village blacksmith could manufacture most replacement parts for an AK, and it is certainly true that bits that would be carefully machined in any other gun (such as the receiver) were stamped metal on the AK. The gun is even fairly accurate per se, although the sights are primitive and probably the source of the "AKs are horribly inaccurate" meme.

A lot of that is exaggerated lore of course. Blacksmith would not be able to make any substantial replacement part for AK.. maybe fix a rivet or two, replace a spring, but that's about it.

Stamped receiver is not really an issue if you can attain stamping with required precision - which most manufacturers can't do economically, at least not when batches are in ballpark of mere tens of thousands. The earliest attempt at stamping it for original AK failed, so they had to do with milled part for a few years, until the engineers managed to set up reliable stamping. Anyway, the receiver is not that critical part in the weapon, compared to the quality of chamber, barrel and other gas-operated parts. The tolerances there are unattainable by an average machinist shop.

The bad rep for accuracy you mention is probably a mix of many factors. The vast majority of it's operators are incompetent shooters. The accuracy gets much worse as the weapon wears through: it might still function perfect after 50 years of use, but it is long past its prime and could have been never properly serviced. Add to that that majority of AKs out there are not really AKs but Chinese-produced Type-56, or Bulgarian, or Iranian etc. clones, and it's no wonder.

In the Pakistani northwest, there are towns which specialize in making knockoffs of guns. See, for example, Dera Adam Khel. There blacksmiths, using very primitive techniques, make duplicates of AK47s all the time. I think you underestimate the resourcefulness of a village blacksmith.

I've seen these, and bought some myself (replicas or mixmasters of old bolt or lever action guns, or flintlocks; they're in my colo cage now as decoration). They're amazing, although I wouldn't want to fire commercial/military ammunition out of one the first time.

http://www.snotr.com/video/2154 is fairly accurate. http://www.motherboard.tv/2010/2/1/a-stroll-through-pakistan...

There are plenty of AK-47s available now for ~$800 instead, but until around 2001, this was a popular way for some people to arm themselves.

It has zero accuracy - to reliably hit a target with an AK you have to be close enough to beat them with the stock.

It can just about fire a full mag before over heating.

To go from safe to automatic fire the safety lever makes a noise that alerts people in the next country

I'll stick with my SA80 thank you

AK-47 is not one weapon. There are many different types of construction and even more derivatives. Stamped (cheap) or milled (expensive, more accurate, does withstand abuse like sitting on the gun) parts, it does make a difference. Open sights and wood stock also indicate cheap construction. Quality of ammunition also plays a big part in accuracy, but I'm not going there.

Even the AK-47 derivatives have several generations. For example Finnish Rk 62 (current Finnish standard issue service rifle) was licensed to form a baseline for what was to become IMI Galil. http://www.dnmsport.com/GALIL/historygalil.htm

(Disassembly + assembly of Rk 62 takes about 40 seconds, it has five parts)

No modern army uses AK-47. So it shouldn't be compared to SA80.

The bottom line: AK-47 is simple and good enough to be effectively used by even the most inexperienced soldiers. It also requires the least amount of maintenance. Precision tools require more experience and always have drawbacks (like gain accuracy - lose the ability to shoot effectively through walls). Multi-purpose tools are compromises, of which AK-47 is the most battle proven.

It has better accuracy than M14, AK's contemporary foe. AK's reduced caliber revision, AK-74, has it on par with (similarly reduced caliber) M16.

"It has zero accuracy..."

Not so. Watch what happens at 1:09 of this video of the 2005 Tyler, Texas courthouse shootout. David Arroyo (the guy with the AK-47) cuts down running civilians, cops - in short, everyone he sees. He's using his AK-47 in semi-auto mode (one trigger pull = one shot) very effectively against moving human targets:


One lesson from the video: stay behind cover while looking for a shooter.

I was with you until the last line... seriously?

You can field strip it in 15 seconds. If you look at the inside of them, there are a few moving parts, and they're all very rough. However, the gas-piston operation system is far superior to the American AR15/M16's system that blows burnt residue into the receiver - that makes it seize up when dirty.

Only if you don't clean your weapon every 4000 rounds :\

Yea, sounds like you've never used one in humidity (even after a few mags) - hell or even one not cleaned and left in storage for a while. I've had them jam on me more than I can remember. There's a reason all of them come with an "assist" that let's your force the bolt closed. If ammo quality (ball powder anyone?) is bad they'll jam on you constantly.

The AK doesn't need an assist, good ammo, or really even oil or cleaning. They're built so you can worry about staying alive - not cleaning...

I'll admit, I'd rather swim in the mud with an AK rather than an AR, but if your AR (assuming it was issued?) was finicky enough to jam in humidity or because it hadn't been cleaned after an outing, then you had a bad AR. The direct impingement system pros outweigh the cons for all but the serious mudbath situations where you also forget your cleaning kit

Also worth reading:

AK47: the open-source weapon that took the world by storm


This reminds me of what the Indian government did to the Yamaha RX-135. It is probably the most sought after bike in India almost six years after its production was stopped because its power-to-weight ratio was so high that rebels in the north-east were using it as getaway vehicles(with a great amount of success). Its pick-up is unmatched to this day, and has incredible resale value.

Artic Trucks are busy building an awesome six wheeled variant of the Toyota Hilux which will be driving to the South Pole in December 2010 as part of the support team for a ski race. It sports 44 inch tires and a 400l fuel tank.


If you are arguing that this is a PR thing, it's possible that getting it in the NY Times was, but there is a pretty solid basis to the story.

In fact, most of the reporting seems to be an update of a few War Nerd pieces combined together. (I'm not implying plagiarism, just that Toyotas are massively over represented in low-intensity conflicts, and that more than one person has noticed it)

The Hilux is featured prominently in William Gibson's new book. This might be a reason for the recent interest.

I have suspected "product placement" in his books before. Volkswagen Phaeton's seemed a bit overly prominent in "Spook Country".

I think he's just fascinated by certain things. The Phaeton is an amazing car and outside of VW's normal lineup. The Hilux is huge all over the world, and virtually unheard of here. And yes, the Jankel armored version is pretty impressive:) Having met him, I HIGHLY doubt he's paid for product placement. I think he's just INTO things in a very geeky way. He focused on Curtas more than Phaetons anyhow:)

Yeah, I concur. He's talked about it on Twitter (people have asked why he mentions specific products) and he said that he just likes to include things he finds interesting. I think for the current trilogy it actually works really well, as it keeps everything grounded in reality.

Interesting. You think this is PR?

I was actually just looking for an old Tacoma/Hilux, although I first heard about their legendary status on Top Gear.

It's definitely PR.

"Buy a Toyota Hilux - the only truck endorsed by the Taliban, the Janjaweed and the Islamic Courts of Somalia."

They could even get Joshua 'General Butt Naked' Blahyi as their spokesperson. "After sacrificing a small child to the devil, I like to strip naked and drive away in my Toyota Hilux. No matter what the terrain, my Hilux will help me escape from angry parents and local militias out for justice."

Exactly. It's "edgy".

I'm not sure about the original hilux on top gear, but I'm pretty suspicious about some more recent episodes. There was an episode in S15 where May drove to the top of a Volcano (in a water/alcohol-cooled hilux). And every shot of the car looked like it had just been freshly polished/waxed.

It could be PR. PR use to hide facts, but in this particular case what they say is real, not fake.

When my uncle(missionary) showed me photos of his travels around South America and Africa all the cars were Toyota pick ups(Venezuela, Amazon Jungle, Chile, Bolivia, Colombia).

When I asked him he told me the word "Toyota" in many places is what we in Spain call "4x4".

I love the Toyota FJ cruiser! Its utilitarian like the HiLux but available in the USA. The Tacoma and Tundra have interiors more like cars than a truck you can wash out the inside with a water hose with.

It can carry a decent amount of ammo and guns. http://img.skitch.com/20101015-c25kibbi3nub61emqgb32mqpie.jp...

The FJ Cruiser is certainly built to look tough, and it has a bunch of near utalitarian elements, but I'd want to wait 30 years and see how many are still running before declaring that it actually is tough.

I had a Toyota Tacoma before the FJ that had over 250,000 miles on when I sold it. So far I like the mechanical engineering more on this vehicle. There is even more room around the engine so its easier to work on and because of how the oil filter is placed, I can run full synthetic and change filters without losing much oil.

With Toyota vehicles, the biggest thing to keep them running for a long time is doing maintenance. If done properly, they will last for longer than you want them.

Also the off-road capabilities are awesome. It has done well in the sand, gravel, inclines, declines, snow, mud and water very well. Its exhilarating to easily get through conditions where others got stuck.

> because of how the oil filter is placed, I can run full synthetic and change filters without losing much oil.

How much oil do you have to drain to change the filter? And do you just pour the drained oil back in or do you top it off with fresh oil?

How often do you keep running the same oil through, anyway?

Haven't heard of anyone doing that before; I'm intrigued.

Actually, I lose less than a 1/4 cup of oil with the filter change. It all depends on how your engine layout is. For the FJ, more oil is lost from burning than from the change.

This. I have a '88 Toyota Land Cruiser that still runs like a dream (well-maintained), but still -- with over 240K on it.

And people wonder why cars have so many fiddly knobs and other things that break. You make a great, sturdy vehicle, everyone who needs it uses it, and your vehicle gets heavily associated with violent groups.

You make a car with intricate, soft-touch interior engineering and you'll get a bigger profit margin from rich first-world people.

I own a somewhat related beast, a FJ60 Landcruiser. They hold up well.

It's well established that for every make of car, there is at least one forum devoted to it. My favorite (also has Hilux content) is at http://forum.ih8mud.com.

I read somewhere that the prime SUV in the arab world was the Mitsubishi Pajero. The entire category was labeled "Pajero Jeep" in Pakistan. Of course, I can't find the article now.

Top Gear did a series of experiments a few years back to find out how indestructible the Hilux really is: http://goo.gl/WI7l

See for yourselves.

Top Gear made two episodes on the Indestructible Hilux (episodes five and six of series 3). Worth watching.

I think the Brotherhood of Nod called them "Technicals" as well.

Which language does Toyota Hilux drivers program in?

I thought it was 4xFORTRAN. Ho ho ho.


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