BBC’s Top Gear Loves Toyota Trucks

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If you haven’t seen the Top Gear attempt to destroy a 190k mile diesel Toyota Hilux, you owe it to yourself to watch the following video. Aired back in November of 2003, this video has become a bit of a cult classic.

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Whether you’re a fan of Toyota or not, you’ve got to admire a truck that starts after spending the night in the ocean. You could also say that this is where Top Gear’s love affair with the Toyota truck began.

Toyota Trucks To The North Pole

Following the worldwide popularity of their first attempt to kill a Toyota, Top Gear decided to try and drive a Toyota Hilux to the North Pole in 2007. Starting in Resolute (a tiny, tiny little village in the furthest Northern reaches of Canada, see map below), the Top Gear crew traveled 400 miles over the course of 7 days to reach the North Pole (OK, magnetic North pole) in specially equipped Toyota Hilux pickups. As you can imagine, the pace was slow due to the harsh elements.

Resolute Canada map

Just where exactly is Resolute? Image copyright Google Maps.

Modified Toyota Hilux used by Top Gear

An image of the heavily modified Toyota Hilux used by Top Gear to reach the North pole. Image copyright

The Hilux was modified by Arctic Trucks, an Iceland-based company specializing in Arctic vehicle conversions. The modifications to these trucks included:

  • Installation of massive 38″ snow tires that could be inflated at as little as 4 psi
  • To keep fuel and coolant from freezing, special heaters were added
  • Heavy duty Aluminum skid plates were added to the underside to protect against rock-hard ice
  • Adding front and rear locking differentials with an incredibly low 4.88:1 gear ratio
  • A bunch of cool accessories like a bull bar with lights, satellite telephone, and official Polar Bear protection (a.k.a. 12-gauge shotgun)
  • Recovery gear (winch, axes, shovels, chainsaw), survival gear, and cameras made the trek too.

Toyota Trucks Visit A Volcano

Following the success of their North pole expedition, Top Gear took advantage of an impending volcanic eruption in Iceland to do one more extreme Toyota truck test: venture as close to an erupting volcano in a truck as possible.

Toyota Hilux Iceland volcano

Paris Hilton would say "that's hot." We say "check out that tire pressure." Image Copyright Toyota UK

The trucks that visited the Volcano were equipped nearly identically to the trucks that visited the North Pole (sans the shot guns, basically). There was a legitimate reason to go bombing around near this volcano, by the way – the threat of super-fine volcanic ash made it too dangerous for aircraft to go near the volcano. The Hilux was the safest way to setup equipment.

Hilux overlooking erupting volcano

That's a nice photo opportunity, isn't it? Image copyright Toyota UK

Clearly, there’s a love affair going on between Top Gear and the Hilux. Of course, the Hilux is quite similar to the Tacoma, the most popular small truck in North America. The question is, can we get Top Gear to take a look at a Tundra?

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  1. Steve H says:

    Jason (admin)- The Hilux looks awesome! I think I like it better then the Tacoma. The Hilux looks kind of cheap though. You should do a comparison between the Ridgeline and the Hilux if you can get your hands on a Hilux.

  2. Bac Ta says:

    I love this show, I’ve set on my DVR for ages now. Great entertainment and a merge between comedy and the genuine love of cars. Not uptight like most automotive shows.

  3. danny says:

    Jason, i thought the Hilux was the non-north american version of the Tacoma. They do share some similarities but every video i’ve seen, i think it’s a totally different vehicle. Maybe you can clarify that for us?
    I saw that video a long time ago, “to kill a Toyota” and i absolutely loved it. Of course, some of the stunts would only hurt a truck, but the lost at sea thingy…. well, i was suprised. I dont think a new yota would survive but who knows! Besides, who would punish their beloved truck like that?!

  4. Jason says:

    Steve – Good idea! That would be a very appropriate comparison…I’ve driven a Hilux before in Central America, but it was an older model. Next time I’m in Panama or Costa Rica, I’ll see what I can setup. Thanks for the thought! 🙂
    Bac Ta – I like it too – very fun. Thanks for commenting.
    Danny – Good point about punishing a truck you love – it’s cool to see it survive, but I genuinely felt bad when they lit it on fire. Seemed very unfair.
    In any case, the Hilux is pretty different. The newer models seem just a little bigger than the Taco, the body panels and frame are different, and of course the engine choices are different (Hilux is available with a small 4 cyl gas motor almost everywhere, plus a 4cyl and 6 cyl diesel in most markets). There are some similarities – the interiors look very similar, and some of the parts and systems are shared – but fundamentally the Hilux is a different truck. There’s a pretty good comparison of the two here

  5. Jr says:

    I LOVE the TRD Hilux, ive seen so many pictures. I just with Toyota USA would make that model here. If they did, i would have gotten the hilux over the tacoma anyday.

    Ive read about trying to get one from mexico and importing that way, but it seems like too much of a hassle, anyways, the ones from Australia are alooott nicer!

  6. Jr says:

    OH! and yes, the option of a diesel in either the tundra or tacoma would be rather nice too…

  7. Jason says:

    Jr – The diesel Hilux would sell like crazy here if it wasn’t for the emission laws that require $5k worth of emissions equipment. My personal opinion is that our vehicle air quality laws are screwed up, and they’re getting worse. I’m all for better air, but it’s got to be accomplished with respect for technology…not determined by some arbitrary legislation.

  8. […] drive the tacoma or whatever up the side of the volcano or drive to teh north pole in the hilux?BBC's Top Gear Loves Toyota Trucks | Tundra Headquarters Blog VIVA LA TOYOTA!!!!!!! IIEIEIEIE __________________ 1999 Limited locked,lifted and […]

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