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The Ancestor


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hilux_cat3_xga.jpg (455 KB)   Tamiya had settled for a new milestone in 1982, after several other "firsts" of this enterprising model company from Shizuoka, Japan. The Toyota Hilux 4x4 was introduced, a model so incom-parable in many points of view. Did most model companies hide the adapted techniques under the bodies, on the chassis of this vehicle it was worth to take a closer look.

Left picture: The Tamiya Hilux with and without body, from the 1982 Tamiya catalogue.

For an enlarged view, please click on the picture.


This model had a classic ladder-frame with rails made from massive aluminium, joined together by cross members made from aluminium and steel sheetmetal. The die-casted rigid axles have been mounted to the frame by using leafsprings. The Hilux was driven by a Mabuchi 540 motor, distributing its power to the axles via a 3-speed-transmission, that even had a die-casted housing. In the low first gear the Hilux was running in four wheel drive, in the middle second and high third gear only the rear axle was driven. The hubs on the front axle could be locked manually, like it could be found on many contemporary fullsize off-road-cars. The tires with their realistic pattern were mounted on two-piece aluminium rims made from sheetmetal, the tires theirselves carried two-piece plastic inserts. Not enough with all that, the motor received its current from a semi-mechanic transistor speedo, controlled by a servo, which was mounted in the mechanism box. Also located in this box were the servos for steering and shifting, that did their task via servosavers. Furthermore the receiver, its powerpack, the ON/OFF-switch and the main battery were placed in this box. All in that the r/c-components had been reasonably protected against water and dust.


The fascinating chassis had been topped by a body that has been unparalleled until today. No model on the market had a comparable body. It was inspired by the original Hilux to the last detail. The grille carried headlamps that could be made working with ease. The drivers compartment had a realistic interior including a drivers figure. The rear of the body has been featured as a stepside-bed, with a rollbar and KC-lights on top. Provided a good detailed paint job, it was difficult to distinguish the model from the real truck. All in one this truck was a real milestone in r/c-history. The Hilux and his successors had set standards in scale appearance that have never been reached by models of other companies.

Hilux_XGA.jpg (141 KB)

Right picture: The Tamiya Hilux with and without body, from the 1982 Tamiya catalogue.

For an enlarged view, please click on the picture.


But the model even had some disadvantages. The engineers at Tamiya had to accept some compromises in return for the high details. The axles didn't bear any differentials, the scale axle cases weren't large enough to accomodate them. For the most hobby pilots the chassis wasn't off-road capable enough, it was often strained by the terrain where it was forced through. The hard tires, the stiff leafsprings without dampers and the rigid frame made this truck jump like a rubber ball. Contemporary modelers transformed the leafsprings into control arms by cutting the rear edge and mounting coils springs and dampers. The ground clearance was not very lavish. If running in a scale-like terrain one didn't had any problems, but most drivers ran it in a much too rough environment, where the Hilux couldn't compete with contemporary buggies.


The price that had to be payed for a Hilux, made it a "toy" for grown-up people. The younger generation was in most cases unable to afford that truck. And many ambitioned drivers had the opinion that, they may get a more versatile vehicle for so high a price. At least one had to consider that he would have to pay for a radio and batteries too, after purchasing the model.


Left picture: The Hilux from the 1982 Tamiya catalogue.


Nevertheless this model is representing a terrific piece of r/c-history. All the fascinating technical gadget, that have been realized in this model, made it unique. The whole series up to the end of production of the Mountaineer in 1995, showed a style of modelling, that actually wasn't as appreciated as it should have been. The unnoticed end, provided to this series by Tamiya, was something that these models have not deserved.

Models of the Hilux are always high in course, maybe not as high as the Bruiser. That may depend on the charisma of the Bruiser, that, even when it was more versatile than the Hilux, not as performant as it looked like. Good spares for the Hilux are hard to get these days. There has grown a small community in the past, that is collecting and preserving these models. There has been an attempt to induce Tamiya with a petition to re-release that type of kit. If Tamiya has been touched by this measure, remains to be seen.

technical data:


tread f/r:

Right picture: Hilux in Action, from the 1982 Tamiya catalogue.

!! I would highly recommend to visit Roby's old Tamiya Database to look for the original Tamiya video of this truck, it's really marvellous, even when it has some dropouts! The video has a size of 65 MB !!
All pictures are copyright of Tamiya Co., Japan