Iron Man: 1985 Toyota 4WD Pickup

These are the unmistakeable colors of eighties racing Toyotas and in particular the look of Ivan “Ironman” Stewart and his PPI (Precision Performance Inc.) offroad race trucks.

The N50 Toyota Pickup (aka the Hilux) was surely a perfect match for Stewart; It is one of the most famously durable trucks of all time and famously a survivor of the old Top Gear trio’s various attempts to kill one.

A workhorse, many are still on the road and being a utilitarian vehicle they ranged from work truck economy versions to fancy 4X4s, but few are as perfect as this tribute truck or as perfectly appropriate.

Ivan Stewart was an amateur rally racer and worked for a fencing company when, in 1973, his co-driver fell off a ladder and Stewart had to compete solo in the 1973 Enseneda 300.

His career picked up steam when he won the Baja 500 in 1975 and the grueling 1000 a year later. Stewart came together with Toyota-backed PPI in 1983, bringing Toyota Grand National Sports Truck Championships (1983-94 a series sanctioned by the Mickey Thomspon Entertainment Group) in 1983 and 1984.

Although it would be the 1990 before he won Toyota another and 1993 before another win in the Baja 1000, Stewart’s solo hero drives were the stuff of legend. He continues to be associated with Toyota and TRD even in retirement.

Meanwhile Toyota redesigned the Hilux in 1983, with the new, angular-looking truck debuting in the U.S. that fall as a 1984 model. The change was evolutionary, but the new truck was bigger inside and out. A new Xtracab body gave even more room.

The traditional Toyota truck virtues (rock solid durability, relatively light weight) were still there, but the trucks felt a little more grown up and had moderately better rust proofing. The results of that depended on where you lived.

Early on these trucks offered a pair of Diesels and the 22R gasoline four, in rwd or 4WD form. The injected 2.4L 22RE took over for 1985 and the truck continued to evolve, with solid front axles giving way to an independent front suspension in 1986.

The previous truck, in 4WD form, had become increasingly popular as a lifestyle off road truck.

After also getting a low-volume semi-custom SUV version (the Toyota Trekker, built with the help of Winnebago), Toyota decided to add a hardtop SUV version called the 4Runner in this generation. This became the N60 Hilux Surf/4Runner.

Interest in the Trekker and 4Runner dovetailed well with what many of the 4WD pickups were already being used for – fun off road and camping.

That popularity was reflected in this truck’s most famous appearance – in the fall of 1984 it became Marty McFly’s truck “Back to the Future,” due for release the following summer. Marty’s fictional truck, you may remember, was similarly adorned with KC Hilites and (IIRC) a slight lift.

This pretty tribute truck was at brought to Washington state’s Old School Reunion​ in 2017 by Authentic Motorcars.

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