What’s So Special About The Toyota Hilux?

The Toyota Hilux has been declared the world’s best-selling car. What’s behind our love affair with this rugged jack-of-all trades?
Jason Snyman
Parking moguls, Indigo UK, used data compiled by Best Selling Cars Blog to give us the most popular cars in the world. According to the data, the most popular car in the world was none other than the Toyota Hilux. The Japanese manufacturer produced the best-selling car in 25 countries. As the world’s favourite car manufacturer in general, Toyota took the top spot. They have 11 best-selling models in 54 different countries. It’s little surprise that South Africa was included on the list of Hilux aficionado’s. We’ve all felt that sudden rush of terror as we’ve looked up into the rearview mirror to find a Toyota Hilux with a Free State licence plate roaring up on us. Even the folks over at Top Gear are huge admirers. You may remember, they once attempted to destroy a 1988 diesel model by crashing it into a tree, assaulting it with a wrecking ball, submerging it in the ocean, setting it on fire and eventually – well, you’ll see. You can watch their futile attempts for yourself in Part One, Part Two and Part Three. The Toyota Hilux, or Truck Norris, as those witty Randfonteiners call it, is certainly one mean machine. Built to survive and designed to last, there’s little wonder why the world loves them.

Toyota Hilux – The Poster Child For Indestructibility

Robustness. Reliability. Peerless off-road capability. Value for money. These are some of the attributes people love about the Hilux. They’re the Nokia 3310’s of the automobile world. Not only that, but it’s widely regarded as impeccable on-road, too, as well as safe. It’s efficient, lighter on fuel than you would think and incredibly user-friendly. It’s the ideal vehicle for hard-working people such as farmers or builders, but the level of luxury customization can afford also makes it appealing to everybody who simply appreciates a good ride. They’ve always been built as body-on-frame vehicles, meaning that the body is fitted on top of the firm steel frame construction. This makes it stronger than most modern cars, where the body and frame are one. It has strength – able to carry anywhere from 860kg up to 1405kg in the tray itself. Underneath, 4x4 versions come with a number of heavy-duty protection plates shielding the major components. It’s pretty difficult to assail the invincible reputation of this vehicle. The launch of the Toyota Hilux in 1968, however, happened to coincide with a form of Third World conflict the world had never seen before. The great unrest, an era categorized by revolt against authority. And so, the tough-as-nails Hilux was almost destined to become the war chariot of the Third World. In fact, the Hilux is so frighteningly dependable it even has a war named after it. No kidding. It’s called the Toyota War. In the final phase of the conflict between Chad and Libya, a Chadian army equipped primarily with Hilux’s outmanoeuvred, outdrove and indeed outgunned a far greater Libyan force armed with aircraft and tanks. Do you know who the best and worst insurance companies are in South Africa? We found out!

Even Terrorists Love The Hilux

About two years ago, US officials noticed that Toyota pickup trucks were showing up in all the videos of Islamic terrorist group, ISIS, in Libya, Syria and Iraq. Speaking to Newsweek, the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for Middle East Policy said:
“The Toyota Hilux is everywhere. It’s the vehicular equivalent of the AK-47. It’s ubiquitous to insurgent warfare, and actually, recently, also counterinsurgent warfare. It kicks the hell out of the Humvee.”
This isn’t the first time radical terrorist groups have favoured the hardihood of the Hilux. Back in 2010, Ravi Somaiya of Newsweek pointed out that the Hilux has been featured in several extremist movements since the 60’s. Scanning through images of world-wide insurgent warfare through the decades, the influence of the Hilux is prevalent. In 2009, the New York Times reported Somali pirates cruising the streets of Mogadishu, hanging out of the windows of their Hilux, guns in hand. 2004, Sudanese fighters raise their arms aloft in the back of a Hilux. Pakistani militants drive through a crowd, guns high, in 2000. Nicaragua, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Liberia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq – the list goes on. Everywhere you look, truck beds are loaded with heavy weaponry and cabs are crammed with radical extremists. The Hilux is durable, maneuverable, powerful and is the ideal four-wheel drive vehicle for outrunning and fighting enemy soldiers. Of course, Toyota has a strict policy to not sell vehicles to potential purchasers who may use or modify them for paramilitary or terrorist activities. This doesn’t stop the terrorists from acquiring them, though, and it’s impossible for Toyota to track down all the sources. All they’re guilty of is building a great car.
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