A number can carry significant meaning, none more so than a Million. The Toyota Hilux, which has been a stalwart in the local light commercial vehicle (LCV) market, can now proudly attach its name to the word million. As a testament to the South African public’s love, respect and trust for the iconic ‘Bakkie’, South African sales of the Hilux eclipsed the one million mark in July this year.
The one millionth unit, a Single Cab 3.0 D-4D Legend 45 model, was sold to Pretoria resident and business owner Shabier Aboobaker on 31 July 2015. Mr. Aboobaker is a Toyota loyalist, having owned a wide variety of Toyota products in the past, including a 1982 Corolla Sprinter, a 1986 Cressida 2.8i (of which he was one of the first lucky owners) and various Camry models, some of which are still in the family.
In the South African Cross-Country Championship, formerly known as the SA Off-Road Championship, Toyota has won the last seven manufacturer’s titles on the trot, with the Hilux doing duty in the hands of former champion Duncan Vos, defending champion Anthony Taylor and current championship leader Leeroy Poulter.
In International competition, the Hilux has fared extremely well too. With former Dakar winner Giniel de Villiers behind the wheel, the South African-developed and built race Hilux attained a third place on its Dakar debut in 2012. In 2013 it went one better with a second place, attaining a fourth place in 2014 and another second place in the 2015 edition of the world’s most grueling motorsport event.
But out of the local spotlight, the Toyota Hilux has also been competing in a variety of international races as part of the FIA’s Cross Country Rally World Cup. Finnish driver Tapio Suominen won the opening round of the 2015 World Cup race in Russia, while Brazil’s Reinaldo Varela finished third overall, both of them driving South African Toyota Hilux race machines.
In addition to his overall victory during a seven-day race in Brazil, Varela managed another third place during the Sealine Rally in Qatar, while Dakar sensation Yazeed Al-Rajhi finished as runner up on the Rallye de Pharaohs in Egypt this year. In Italy Toyota secured second and third place, with Varela taking second and Russia’s Vladimir Vasilyev finishing third. And on the most recent round, the Hungarian Baja, Holland’s Bernhard ten Brinke came second – yet another strong international showing by the locally-developed Toyota Hilux race vehicle.
In recognition of not only the sheer number of Hilux vehicles produced, but also of its unparalleled success as a competition vehicle, Toyota SA Motorsport has built a one-of-a-kind Toyota Hilux. Known as the Toyota Hilux Racing Experience, this unique machine is a celebration of Hilux.
At the heart of the race version of the Toyota Hilux is the powerful and flexible Lexus IS-F V8 engine. In celebration of its racing success, this is the same engine that does duty in the Toyota Hilux Racing Experience vehicle. With more than 335 kW of power available at 6,000 rpm, this is most likely the most powerful Toyota Hilux ever built. However, the Hilux Racing Experience is much more than just a Toyota Hilux with a big engine – it is a finely crafted machine that embraces a host of technology used in Toyota SA Motorsport’s Hilux race vehicles.
The engine management system, for instance, has been replaced with a Pectel Cosworth system, making the most of the engine’s direct fuel injection. The sump has been modified to make room for the production Hilux front differential, which has been equipped with a new gear ratio. The rear diff received similar treatment, and the inlet manifold has been modified to Dakar spec, effectively boosting the torque characteristics of the engine.
A new alternator and power steering pump has been fitted, together with a new air conditioning compressor. The entire wiring harness has been upgraded to Dakar spec, a full tubular exhaust system has been installed and modifications made to the transmission’s bell housing, in order to mate the gearbox to the IS-F engine.
The suspension system has also been upgraded, with fully adjustable front and rear dampers, and the entire vehicle has been lowered by 50 mm over the production version. The steering ratio has been increased for faster movement and large 18×9” wheels have been fitted.
All of this comes together with the AIM electronic dashboard, which is fully integrated with the Pectel engine management system and provides the driver with a vast array of engine information in true motorsport fashion.
The result is a well-balanced bakkie that offers supreme performance without compromising handling – in essence, a road-going Toyota Hilux injected with motorsport DNA, which offers the driver the very essence of Toyota SA Motorsport’s race vehicles.