For all of the retro-styling that has swept through the auto industry in the last decade, trucks have been left almost completely alone. (No the Chevy SSR doesn’t count) That’s a shame, because like everything else there is a huge population of car and truck enthusiasts who would snap up the chance for a modernized version of their favorite truck from the past. For instance, hardly a day goes by that I don’t receive a request for more information or an update on the possibility of a new Jeep truck.
Same could be said for Toyota’s Tacoma Truck Concept, which is affectionately referred to as the “Back to the Future” Truck because of the resemblance it has to Marty McFly’s dream machine. It’s not all just retro paint and decals though. This truck concept contains some very unique pieces from its past and some old school technology.
Obviously it isn’t easy to identify what concepts or new cars will be a success with the public; otherwise it would happen all of the time. With restyled models from the past it is usually based on how well a new design taps into the positive qualities of the original. With the Tacoma Concept that meant simplifying things a bit from the modern version. The Toyota trucks from the 80’s had alot going for them, but complex they were not. Forget airbags, CD players, maybe even air conditioning, all that is just more to break anyway. Instead, they made up for this relative lack of comfort with a large dose of reliability. Central to this is their implementation of durable 4-cylinder engines which continued to run strong long after the Japanese bodies that covered them had all but rusted away.
So, to honor this truck heritage, Toyota created this one-of-a-kind 4x4x4: four-wheel drive with a four-speed automatic transmission and four-cylinder engine. The most notable difference between the concept and the modern truck is the solid front axle pulled from a 90’s era Land Cruiser that replaces the Tacoma’s stock independent front suspension. This is a happy development for serious offroaders who prefer solid front axles for their elevated wheel travel. Also pulled from a Land Cruiser is a floor-mounted manual transfer case lever next to the transmission shifter to switch the truck from two-wheel drive to 4-high or 4-low, instead of a modern dash-mounted electric t-case knob. Under the hood the Tacoma’s 159 horsepower 2.7-liter 2TRFE four-cylinder engine provides motivation, although it is a bit on the weak side for the truck’s 3,700 pound curb weight. Beyond the lovely shade of beige paint and graphics, the custom grille and tubular front and rear bumpers provide a decidedly McFly-worthy exterior. Likewise, the interior features an expanse of brown and tan, highlighted by real Recaro cloth inserts that were kept in storage for the last 20 years.
Ever mindful of what other manufacturers are up to, speculation is that Toyota has built this concept to guage interest in a small production Ford Raptor SVT-style truck. Currently, only the PreRunner approaches this concept in the Toyota lineup.