It’s the Toyota reality show, folks!
Having originated with the production of looms, the Toyota motor company have since made significant inroads into driving the world. While Germany may be the car’s father, its mother French, to say nothing of its American cousin who made it larger than life, we must look East for precision and calculation. And a nice slice of toast. Good: on with the show.
The H from the above title refers to Hilux, that simple derivation of High and Luxury which has gone on to be a worldwide success story. Now onto its 8th generation and upwards of seventeen million sold since its 1968 inception – beloved by farmer, builder, explorer, desert racer. More commonly today with the office worker.
Keen to cash in on America’s pinup, the Pick Up Truck, Toyota had a bash with the Briska and the Stout. The Briska began life as a Hino pick up, the two companies merging in 1966. The Stout however was Toyota’s own but came under the name of Toyopet. The Stout continued production until 1989, mainly exported. The Briska meanwhile, still under Hino control, lasted until March 1968 when the name changed to Hilux.
In similar fashion to the Corolla, each generation improved upon the other. Stronger engines, better payload, more comfort, more confidence and more customers. No longer made in Japan, the lion’s share arrive from Thailand, then plants in Argentina, South Africa, Malaysia, Pakistan and Venezuela. Asia buys the most Hilux’s, South America next and the rest of world in similar numbers. Very few are sold on Japanese soil. Way back in 1989, a Toyota and Volkswagen tie-up led to production in Hanover sold as both Hilux and Taro.
Squeezing out the story, you must remember its starring role in the original Back To The Future movie? Marty McFly’s dream truck was a black Hilux. Also the very same truck was featured in a tie-in with the Californian Raisin Advisory Board where, oddly enough, raisins were given the spotlight in an advertisement campaign where you had a chance to win a real version while the kids could get a battery powered scale model. Calm yourselves now. Can you honestly imagine Marty McFly lusting after a Toyopet Stout?
To E now, which stands for Emblem. Toyoda was the family name, but in 1936 they held a public competition to change the logo, from something similar to Škoda’s Winged Arrow to a more sober diamond type. This change also led to change of name. Toyota has a voiceless consonant sound in Japanese, sounding clearer whereas the ‘da’ is more coarse to the Japanese ear.
Jikaku, the number of strokes needed to write Japanese characters also became a factor. Toyota contains eight Jikaku, a portent of wealth and prosperity. The current badge was part of a fiftieth birthday plan in 1989. With varying stroke thickness, the badge took five years to design. With hearts, steering wheels, the globe and environment contained within, the space in the background exhibits the infinite values Toyota wish for their customers. Very deep and meaningful stuff. There’s a T in there as well, somewhere. Stands for toast, obviously.
The L should be followed by the letter C for Land Cruiser, the bane of Land Rover since 1951. Originally developed for the Japanese National Police Reserve, it drew heavily on the Willy’s Jeep which led to Willys-Overland getting shirty when Toyota named theirs the Toyota Jeep. Land Cruiser as a name came into being in June ‘54. Quite inconsiderately, the JNPR chose a Mitsubishi Jeep, itself a Willy’s made under license due to its proven track record. Toyota ditched the military plan, brought it to the civilian market and never looked back.
97% of Land Cruisers are made in Japan. Two other locations make them up in CKD format, Kenya and Portugal. The word Prado, often found after the word Cruiser is Portuguese for field or meadow. Other than the ubiquitous off road ability along with on road manners, does the Land Cruiser suffer from not being a Land Rover? Like their Solihull rivals, a large amount seem to be found in the urban jungle as opposed to the Amazon.
Being too large for Britain’s narrow and crowded roads doesn’t seem to affect their popularity though. Where there’s rather more room to roam, for those interested, Salt Lake City, Utah is the American home to the LC museum where virtually every type of Toyota’s largest is on show. Plenty of merch here, too. www.landcruiserhm.com
The P lies with that much maligned motor, the Prius. The Prius (Latin for to go before) came to life some twenty seven years ago as project G21: Global 21st century car. Charged with doubling fuel efficiency over a conventional car and having it ready for the next century proved immensely difficult. The silver screen stars of Hollywood thanked their lucky hybrid Powertrains they did.
Whilst the concept car in custard yellow was awkward in stance, the successive generations have retained a niche look that is considered correct. With the second son officially described as ‘triangle monoform’ and third causing a frenzied purchase queue with 180,000 orders in May 2009 alone (causing months of delay), the fourth has given us new, more aggressive angles and colours to adapt to.
Emotional Red, a strong and bright reflective hue utilising state-of-the-art technology to merge an aluminium reflective layer with a translucent pigment layer. Or how about Thermo-Tect Lime Green, helping to reduce car body temperature? And then there’s Steel Blonde Metallic exuding a progressive yet refined composure.
To me though, it’s all rather bread related. Here in the north of England, heated exchanges can occur when asking for bread. Different locales (streets, even) have different names for the same product. Parts of Yorkshire call it a bread cake, others a balm cake, some a tea cake or butty. Some contain raisins, or grains, some don’t.
My point being that Toyota has created some highly credible machines and empowered millions to go further, to strive for better with comfort and saintly economy. But rather like the celebrities in the jungle, their offerings are a bit doughy; tasty the sandwich may be, how quickly it is forgotten. After all, a sliced loaf is just that – a staple but hardly salivated over.