At its local introduction in 1969, the purchase price of the then-new Toyota Hilux was R1 525. Designed and developed by Toyota’s subsidiary Hino Motors in Tokyo, the arrival of the first-generation Hilux with its 57 kW, 1.5-litre, inline four-cylinder engine onto the South African market – was a stark contrast to the Ford F150 alternative of the time.
HOW IT STARTED
Through a commercial agreement the Hino Briska would first become the Toyota Briska before this 4 300 mm-long single-cab was rebranded to Hilux in 1968. Assembled at Hino Motors’ Hamura plant under the codename RN10, its name was derived from the words “high” and “luxury.” The introduction of the Hilux allowed Toyota to move its Crown and Corona nameplates into the passenger car space.
The Hilux featured a column-mounted shift lever to operate its four-speed transmission, allowing for a second passenger to occupy the cabin. A long-wheelbase version with an extended load bay would join the range in 1969.
Despite its relatively modest outputs compared with the F150, the Hilux steadily found favour in many global markets, thanks to its superior levels of build quality and noteworthy fuel efficiency, while also quickly establishing a reputation for bullet-proof reliability.
HOW IT’S GOING
54 years later, the venerable Toyota Hilux has solidified its reputation for rugged reliability and is consistently the best-selling vehicle on the South African market, month after month.
Sold in single-, double and cab-and-a-half guise, the current eighth-generation Hilux has grown, on average, more than a metre longer than its founding forebear. It’s interesting to note that since this model’s 2016 introduction, regular updates have been made to both its exterior styling and interior appointments as the steady rise in popularity of lifestyle-focused rivals like the VW Amarok and Ford Ranger have kept Toyota on its toes. That’s ensured their contender has been kept capable yet also relatively comfortable and up-to-date in terms of modern conveniences for those with less workmanlike requirements.