“The vehicular equivalent of the AK-47“, that’s what terrorism analyst Andrew Exum called the Toyota Hilux to Newsweek back in 2014 and ho-boy is that the truth. And ho-boy does that make for one killer opening sentence. Cause in it’s simplistic nature, it’s the same deal – a highly efficient, cheap and unbreakable piece of technology. And such a unkillable icon has such… simple origins. The Hilux first came to be in 1965 as the Toyota Briska, a small, compact pick-up based on the Renault 4CV which eventually got turned into its own line of pickups as the Hilux in 1968. And at the time, it was pretty much exactly the same as its competitor Datsun; both had similar size beds, similar small 1.6L engine, and so on.
Hell, Nissan/Datsun was already selling the Datsun 520 since the mid-sixties in the United States and it was doing quite well at home too. So, what did the Hilux have that the 520/620/720 series didn’t? Well, as it turns out… it had the future. Yeah, I know, what an ambiguous sentence! But really, it did. As the Datsun truck changed its scope and turned into the Nissan Pathfinder/Navara through the eighties and nineties, it remained the same similar cut of bread and butter that it had been known for since the sixties just increased in size and luxury, which isn’t bad! However, somewhere along the lines, Toyota did achieve greatness. The fourth generation of the Hilux, which kicked off in 1984 started a bit of a streak.
For instance, it’s virtually indestructible(as seen on Top Gear, just Googling it will get you a ton of results). The engine(which were a series of 1.8L through 2.8L I4 engines and a single 3.2L V6) seemed to work at any given time no matter the circumstance and the whole thing screamed workhorse. Simple interior with basic luxuries, decent chugging engine, good ride and like the Ford Transit; plenty of options for your consumer desire. This lasted all the way through today, where the Hilux still is known as a indestructible workhorse that can be set on fire, rolled over and wrecked and still start and deliver the rubble that was used to destroy it in the first place. And of course, I guess that’s why insurgents love using it so much.
But enough about that, Aoshima has had Hilux kits since the mid-nineties, from lowriders, to the Surf model(a Hilux with closed bed and a hatch), SSR-X 4WD and so on. And sometime in the early naughties, they released a single cab lift-up version of the Hilux – and so the origins of this kit were born. They transformed the frame of the SSR-X Double Cab and combined it with the lift-up to create this beast and boy, it’s huge. And it still contains all of the parts of the previous version, like the roll bars, shorter drivetrain and transfer case, but the important addition is the whole shebang plated in chrome. The idea is that it’s… flashy, I suppose. The whole undercarriage is meant to be silver, chrome or both.
And the whole thing is glorious, the complexity of the chassis is immense yet it all functions. It’s this frame detail that made me wish they gave it a engine, no matter how meh it would be. The SSR-X could have a 2.4L I4 diesel, which is boring yes, but who cares! It’s just such a damn shame that this is one of the many curbside models of Aoshima with so much undercarriage detail that it seriously deserve a tooled up engine for a change. Hell, shit now I look at the pictures I realize the rear rims are crooked from forcing them straight(well, that worked out beautifully) for the photo taking.
Speaking of which, the sole downside to the kit is sadly enough the wheels. They have been designed to fit on something that clearly once was meant to just hold the basic 4×4 wheels of the normal Hilux. It’s got replacement discs that the wheels attach onto which is just, well it just doesn’t hold the weight of the gargantuan high quality tires well. The downside does come with an upside as the tires are frickin’ amazing. They’re properly licensed Interco Super Swamper Radial/TSL tires and woof, I love ’em. Unfortunately the rim doesn’t quite fit, I mean it fits just enough but the littlest movement and you get what happened to my rear-right tire as you can tell.
The whole kit is friggin’ epic. It goes together supremely well(other than a bad case of crooked-ass wheels) and the end result is huge, I mean. Truly, truly huge. I took a picture of the Hilux alongside a 1/24th scale Chevrolet Camaro, and a ’79 Camaro itself ain’t a small car either but holy hell, it looks compact compared to the workhorse rifle of the pickup trucks. It literally is as tall as the tires on the truck, and the truck sits a whole quarter inch higher than the tires.
Aoshima’s kits are such a nice relaxing change of pace for me, as I said before on the Silvia S13 article. These and the Tamiya kits are excellently crafted and thoroughly thought out kits that you can’t really screw up unless you manhandle ’em. Fujimi kits aren’t quite there, but even they are better build quality than most of MPC’s catalog. It’s kits like these that really make me look forward to building the Subaru BRZ and R32 Skyline which are underway as I type this!
’94 Toyota Hilux SSR-X Double Cab specifications:
Kit: “The Tuned Car” series, No.5
Skill Level: N/A
Molded in: White, Gray and Chrome