You can't buy a Hilux in North America.
Do you ever wonder if we go too far in smoothing out our trucks in an attempt to make them look better or different from the rest? I do and I think I'm done with being smooth. I think it's actually cooler now to not one up the other guys by shaving 78 things off of your truck. I'm over completely losing the identity of my truck by shaving it so much that it turns into a box with rounded corners. What might be fine for others is no longer pegging the needle on my tach. I want different in the worst way possible and I'm willing to travel to foreign lands to acquire it. Now, if I could just figure out how to rob a 7-11 mini-mart without getting shot or arrested, I'd be all set. So how did I arrive on the other side of the custom fence? It all began with a wedding.
My brother got married recently, and he and his fiance had one of those "destination weddings." Destination wedding is French for "We can afford to go to an island in February to party and if you want to watch us get hitched, you're gonna have to afford it to." I wouldn't miss my brother's wedding for all the free donuts at Krispy Kremes, and because I was the "best man" at this shindig, my wife and I made plans to attend. By the way, best man is Greek for, "He who must provide alcohol, activities that may get the groom killed or maimed, and prevent any photographic evidence of such activities from ever surfacing."
The bachelor party occurred the weekend before the island-themed nuptials, and so I flew to Baltimore to pick up my brother and whisk him away to Pennsylvania for a weekend of snowboarding and debauchery. Nothing happened during the bachelor weekend that has anything to do with trucks, or that I can repeat here, and because of the no photographic evidence allowed rule, I didn't bring any of my camera gear on this trip anyway. What does this have to do with my anti-smooth opener to this column? Nothing yet, but it will soon, I promise.
A few days after the party, my wife flew into town and then the four of us, my brother and his fiance, myself, and my "plus 1", flew from Baltimore to Miami, and from Miami to the island of St. Lucia in the Caribbean for the wedding. By the way, plus 1 is travel agent speak for your better half, or he or she who waits until a week before the wedding to book the plane tickets, even though you kept suggesting they be purchased months beforehand, thereby burning up that extra money you saved for new tires for your truck. But I digress.
We arrived at the tiny airport on the island, spent an hour getting through customs, and the first thing I noticed after we hit the parking lot were all the cool trucks the locals drove, and that incredibly cheap, locally brewed beer is available every 500 feet on the side of the road from a shack with a great view of the ocean. The wedding was a success, we all had fun, I woke up with a hangover pretty much every morning we were there, and the worst part of the trip was that I had nothing but my crappy camera phone to take pictures of all the amazing trucks on this island.
When I returned home, I forgot all about photos I had taken of Crew Cab Mazda B2200 mini-trucks with Japanese beds, and '89-'95 Crew Cab Toyota "Hilux" minis with Japanese beds, and late-model Toyota 4Runner hoods, and Mitsubishi minis with what appeared to be Ford Escort headlights. By the way, Hilux is Japanese for a truck that has way cooler lines than a Tacoma or a Tundra. So, today I was looking over the feature article on Jesse Brown's '83 Nissan 720 truck, and a photo of the bed of that truck reminded me about the photos of the trucks I had stored in my phone. I busted out the photos and they made me see the answer to my recent anti-smooth stance on trucks.
Every truck on that island was a variation of a model we have in the U.S. that isn't available here and it got me thinking; instead of taking what we have and shaving it within an inch of its life and taking away most of its character just to make it look different than all the other trucks out there, why not do what the rest of the world does when it wants a dose of different? Why not look overseas for that next project truck? Or better yet, avoid all the legal hassles of importing a truck that might not meet our country's safety and emission standards, and simply import the cool body parts. Some of this stuff will bolt onto your truck and the parts that don't will make your truck that much cooler when you find a way to blend it together.
It's high time that we learned to speak different languages. Hasta luego.