Wednesday, July 30, 2014

15k: Diesel Duke's DC: 1988 Toyota Hilux Double-Cab Diesel

There comes a time in every car enthusiast's life where something different is really all that's needed (or desired). Forget that belly-button '32 Ford highboy with SBC power, sell the '57 Chevy, dump the Miata trackday car; it's time for a unicorn. In the US Toyota sold a diesel version of its Hilux briefly in the '80s to a few spendthrifts who are likely still clattering around in them, because of their legendary unkillability. However, the double-cab was never sold here in any form until after the Tacoma replaced the Hilux on our shores and by then the diesel option had vanished. If you want both, plus 4WD, the only way to go is importation. Find this 1988 Toyota Hilux Double-Cab w/ 2L diesel for sale in Gardena, CA for $16499 via craigslist.

This Hilux is being offered by someone who calls himself "Diesel Duke Rasmusen, Unicorn Distributor" which is just about the best title I've ever seen - used car dealer or not. His website is Cross Country Cruisers, which makes it clear that the business is importing and selling rare versions of the classic Toyota 4WD vehicles we've come to know and love in the States, like the Hilux above and a smattering of Land Cruisers.

This thing has the potential to be seriously cool with the shorty bed featuring external tie-down hooks, the 4WD spec, and what looks to be great condition with shiny white paint and a sweet period graphics kit. The wheels, tires, running boards and bed-mounted light bar all scream tacky JDM to me, but that stuff can all be easily changed / removed for better functionality and tougher looks. A set of stock 15" steel wheels with 31 x 10.5" BFG All-Terrains is my wheel/tire combo of choice for an '80s Hilux and would look great on this one.

Because of California's strict emissions regulations, it may not be possible to legally title and register this truck in the US California depending on options. Diesel Duke's "How it Works" page includes some warm fuzzy language about letting him handle the process, but importing any post-1975 vehicle into CA that does not meet direct import requirements - basically the original OE emissions testing required of the manufacturer when the vehicle was new - is pretty much a no-go in the Golden State without paying for the testing yourself. However if this Toyota 2L engine is similar enough to the older version that was sold here, you may be in luck. See the writeup and comments of this gray-market diesel E30 wagon and this MotoIQ article for the details.

I'll just summarize by saying it's safe to assume there are far easier states in which to register this Hilux than California. If you can get past driving a RHD vehicle on US roads, you'd probably appreciate how pristine this interior looks - and the rest of the truck for that matter - meaning it is likely in good mechanical shape. The 86,000 mile claim helps to back that up.

For all of your trouble paying for and importing this unicorn, you get a gutless clattery diesel 4-cylinder (no pictures provided) and this wonderful flat bench seat accessed by two very narrow rear doors. But you'll be the only one for miles with such a beast - unless you happen to live in Prescott, AZ where there seems to be a high concentration of foreign oil-burning Toyotas.

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