A week in Toyota Toy Town

I’ve just spent the past week pretending I was Calvin Brookman. Never heard of him? Then you need to brush up on your Tamiya history. Calvin was the driver of the Tamiya 1985 model 58048, the Toyota 4×4 Bruiser. Now bizarrely for Tamiya, this model never came with a driver so for all intents and purposes, he looked exactly like me. How uncanny.  

Fast forward 32 years or 471 models later and Tamiya has re-released the much often drooled over model that most of us wanted from the top shelf. To celebrate this release and an almost 40-year partnership Toyota have with Tamiya, Toyota GB set about turning their current Hilux Extra Cab vehicle into a real-life homage to the Tamiya model.

I met with my R/C hero in the carpark at work. It sat there as bold as brass. You couldn’t miss it and did I laugh. This thing is a bit of a monster. Subtlety is not its strong point and yet it does have an air of soft cuddliness about it. We’ve all taken our favourite R/C model to bed and this 1:1 scale model is no different. I got it dirty and washed it for crying out loud. I just didn’t want it going home dirty! 

Toyota has done an amazing job in its recreation. In doing this they have also done something else to the Hilux which I’ll discuss later. A snazzy wrap of camp sparkling blue and Bruiser graphics would fall flat on there face if it wasn’t for the fact that this truck has been given the kiss of the lift by Arctic Trucks. Gone are the standard Hilux 265/65 17 wheel combo for a more robust 305/80 17 mix. It’s a lot of chunky rubber. 

There’s also a reworking of the bits underneath too, with uprated Fox Shox suspension and to maintain the speedometer accuracy, they reworked the differential gearing. Quite important this when on the M23 with average speed cameras in operation.  

Now you won’t find any of the extras on the Bruiser in the Toyota Hilux accessory brochure. Toyota teamed up with model maker Robert Selway who had the task of adding the all important on/off switch as well as the bumper bars. 

So the time arrived for me to slide the switch to ‘on’ and roll out with my battery pack fully charged. OK so the switch wasn’t that in the rear bed but the ignition key in my hand and this isn’t powered by batteries but a 150bhp 2.4-litre diesel engine going through a 6-speed manual gearbox. 

One thing that becomes apparent is the tyre noise. Over 40mph and these things make more noise than RuPaul’s Drag racers at full bitch.

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Girl, they are chatty! That, however, is the only fault and even then it’s hardly a problem. This new set up makes the Hilux even better to drive than the one we tested in 2017. There is less pitch and the ride is more compliant. There is an element to understeer if you press too hard and an amount of tail out in the wet. Like any pick-up though, 4 wheel drive is best selected in the wet when the rear is light of a load.

And you best get used to the stares the truck gets. It’s not for the shy. Like a secret cult, those who know give you the thumbs up or a knowing nod. It’s appreciated. This is when you suddenly really start to fall in love with the truck. It lacks the luxury features of the Hilux Invincible but this is only because they are not available on the extra cab model. Shameful really because this model with its mini suicide rear doors really is a handsome beast.  

Now down to the nitty-gritty. Would I have one? No is the answer. It’s just too big to park in the high street. And it is totally unnecessary for me in this guise. My daily commute route had to be altered to accommodate its bulk. That said, just look at it. What’s not to love? I tell you what, not a lot. The wheels are impossible to curb and the thing sort of glides over speed bumps. Toyota GB, I’ll swap you my much-prized Sand Scorcher? I WANT THIS!

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