Don’t think an indestructible truck exists? The Toyota Hilux is out to prove you wrong.
Production of this series of compact pickup trucks began in 1968. Seven generations later, it is still standing strong, gaining the name “The Indestructible Truck” along the way.
A reliable workhorse, numerous businesses count on the Hilux for their day-to-day operations. It has become the vehicle of choice for journeys to harsh environments such as that of the Antarctic and Artic regions.
The series continues to be a bestseller, with its sturdiness and reliability as the main draw. Yes, the Hilux can endure heavy use. It can even survive abuse.
Just how invincible is this ultra-tough and robust machine? That’s what the team of the BBC motoring show Top Gear tried to find out in the fifth episode of its third season back in 2003.
The subject was a 13-year-old 1988 diesel Hilux that, based on its odometer, had clocked in 305,775 kilometers (190,000 miles). Top Gear set out to show the viewers whether the old Hilux can stand one harrowing test after another, ranging from simple to extreme, and which one would finally “kill” the vehicle.
Here’s what they did to the old Hilux.
In the initial tests, the truck was driven down a flight of steps, scraped on the side of a building’s stone wall and crashed straight into a tree. As expected, it kept going. When it was thoroughly checked, there was no major damage, either, just a few bruises.
The next element introduced was water. The Hilux was parked then tethered into a slipway into the sea during low tide. Harmless, right? Not quite. The site happened to be Seven Estuary, which is known for having the world’s second biggest tide. It reaches up to 40 feet and rushes in at around 8 miles per hour.
The tide started to rise and the vehicle got more and more soaked. Moments passed and the ropes that were holding it down eventually broke. The old Hilux was washed out to sea and disappeared from sight. When the tide receded, the search for the Hilux was on. It was found five hours later when the tide completely subsided. The vehicle was partly buried in sand.
The damage became apparent after the truck was dragged out and the sand removed. The mechanic worked to repair the flooded engine, and just when it looked like a lost cause, he got the Hilux running again. Note that there were no special tools used, just the basic ones that you can usually find in a toolbox. Repairs were also done without replacing any of the original parts, so when the Hilux started running again, it definitely surprised everyone.
Finally, the last stop was the test track. The truck was first driven through a wooden garden shed (which served as the show’s production office) that had one door and window. It emerged without any additional “injury.”
A caravan was then dropped onto the truck’s roof. It still worked fine. Then it was hit with a wrecking ball, the same kind used on skyscrapers. It remained mostly intact, with only the rear loadbed hurt.
For the final stunt, the vehicle’s cabin and bed area were set ablaze, as fire seemed to be a sure bet. It still didn’t work, though, as one of the last clips of the episode showed the scorched truck being driven onto the set. The Hilux, despite all the horrifying abuse inflicted upon it, defied logic and continued to run.
As the episode has demonstrated, there’s nothing that can stop the Toyota Hilux from showing the world how tough it can be. Since then, it has been called “The Indestructible Truck” and it has lived up to its name until now.