Toyota's First Factory Race Truck?

Mojave Traveler

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Expecting a picture of Ivan's first Toyota factory ride? You'll have to think a lot earlier than that!


It's 1974, and Toyota wants to show off road racing enthusiasts why building a Toyota truck to race is a good decision. Toyota technicians went to work on "The Idea Truck".


Here's the article from the August, 1975 issue of Off Road magazine

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Making it's public debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show in January, 1975, this truck was built to show that choosing a Toyota truck was the right choice if you wanted to be a top contender in the mini pick up class.


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The truck's 2200cc 20R engine and 5 speed transmission can be seen here while a Toyota technician works on the suspension system.

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Did the truck ever see race action? Who knows; but it was about this time that a guy named Ivan Stewart was also making a name for himself in the world of off road racing. You know the rest of the story.


1975
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10 years down the "dirt" road. Both Ivan and Toyota have just shifted into second gear on their way into off road racing legend status.
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20 years.
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Bro_Gill

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Do you know if that truck was built at their Fremont location? And wasn't a guy names Mears winning at Riverside in the Cal Poly Toyota truck around then as well? It was so much easier back then!
 

Mojave Traveler

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Unfortunately, the article doesn't say where it was built. I've never seen the Mears' Toyota. Would love to see pictures if anyone has them though.
 

Mojave Traveler

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I found this Cal Poly truck, but the article says it raced from '77 to '81..Not even sure if it's a Toyota or Datsun, and i can't read the name on the door.

CALPOLYATPARKER.png
 

Bro_Gill

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The truck was built by students at Cal Poly and Mears was given the seat for a Riverside race. He won and made them winners. '77 would probably be pretty close. I believe their involvement with the race truck was one of the kick starters for the College Baja challenge races that still go on today.
 

Havasubud

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Do you know if that truck was built at their Fremont location? And wasn't a guy names Mears winning at Riverside in the Cal Poly Toyota truck around then as well? It was so much easier back then!
Didn't it say it was built up at TMS? Torrance?
 

Bro_Gill

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The only thing I see is that it was constructed by the Quality Control service guys from Toyota Motor Sales U.S. I know the trucks were assembled in Fremont when the parts were shipped over here, so I assumed that is where the Quality Control guys would be working at.
 

Mark Newhan

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I've never really been a Toyota guy, although I had a Tacoma in 1998 as a shop truck. However I do respect how Toyota has developed its racing heritage. It strongly resembles that of Ford and Chevrolet. I respect that Toyota assembles vehicles here in America with non-union workers. So much of American money leaves the shores and doesn't come back. It's very cool to see that Toyotas off road racing history dates back to the mid 1970's.
 
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I knew a guy in the early 70's that ran a Toyota "Stout" pickup purty ruffshod off road at Olivewood Cemetery at the 91 and Central...
 

Mojave Traveler

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I've never really been a Toyota guy, although I had a Tacoma in 1998 as a shop truck. However I do respect how Toyota has developed its racing heritage. It strongly resembles that of Ford and Chevrolet. I respect that Toyota assembles vehicles here in America with non-union workers. So much of American money leaves the shores and doesn't come back. It's very cool to see that Toyotas off road racing history dates back to the mid 1970's.
The article surprised me. I thought Toyota started it's serious off road racing program with Ivan and PPI. This truck shows they had ideas of being a strong racing force in America long before that. I'm sure the biggest obstacle was selling a foreign vehicle to Americans..Especially from a country that we had been in a very nasty war with just 30 years prior to this article... And yeah, one reason i decided it was o.k. to buy a Toyota Tundra about 10 years ago is that it was built in Indiana.
 

toddz

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I found this Cal Poly truck, but the article says it raced from '77 to '81..Not even sure if it's a Toyota or Datsun, and i can't read the name on the door.

View attachment 185190
That truck was the one that was built by Bryan Kudela and his fellow students and it really got Bryan started in the racing industry.

Todd Z.
 

Mark Newhan

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The article surprised me. I thought Toyota started it's serious off road racing program with Ivan and PPI. This truck shows they had ideas of being a strong racing force in America long before that. I'm sure the biggest obstacle was selling a foreign vehicle to Americans..Especially from a country that we had been in a very nasty war with just 30 years prior to this article... And yeah, one reason i decided it was o.k. to buy a Toyota Tundra about 10 years ago is that it was built in Indiana.

The Japanese selling TV's and Cars in the US just shows how good we have been to the rest of the world. The Marshall Plan rebuilt war torn Europe and Germany. What other nation as even come close.

When Mitsubishi and Nissan started to import to the US, they either changed their branding (Nissan) or sold through domestic automakers.
 

La Tijereta

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John Milam ran a successful Toyota program in mid 70's..Got some big wins over the Datsun and Ford entries..
This was from the 77' Baja 1000..
CenterlineImages.1977.Class 7.Milam.toyota.701.21x.jpg


Roger Mears and Mike Moore were onboard the Cal Poly Toyota in 1981 at the Riverside race..

CenterlineImages.1981.Riverside.700.Mears.Moore.Bud Toyota.21x.jpg

@ CenterlineImages
 

Bro_Gill

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Yes, even before that, I believe the Scorpio Team was racing a Toyota HiLux and had several wins. The hard part to figure out is what brand of truck it was as the Courier, Datsun, and Toyota all kind of looked the same until about 1976.
 

Lord Green

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If you look at my avatar, you will see the Brian Kudula Cal Poly SAE truck at the 1982 Mint 400. My buddy David Holtz and I bought it in 1981and attempted racing without much success. When we picked up this truck in San Luis Obismo, Toyota had given the SAE a new truck with the newer body style for them to build a new racecar. The new version was the one that Roger Mears won Riverside. Our truck only had an 1800 engine. I designed the paint job. I've always said that the paint was my contribution to the Ivan Stewart race team.
 

La Tijereta

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The Scorpio Team, with Bill Baldwin/ Jerry Chrisner, were on top of the field at the 1977 Baja 1000..
1976 Baja 500 in Ensenada... Early years saw everyone devloping front grill guards for these trucks to mount added offroad lights as part of a new industry "after market"..
CenterlineImages.1976.Baja 500.Baldwin.toyota.21x.jpg

@ CenterlineImages
 

Bro_Gill

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Man, gotta love those 13" Sand Blasters on the front with probably 20 pounds of air pressure for an additional 3" of 'tire' travel. Those rims are great. Wonder if you could get some blank VW 4 lug ones like they use on the 9 cars and have them redrilled to the 5 on 4.5" pattern instead of the 4 lug?
 

ACME

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^^^ I believe Custom Commercial Wheel can, I just don't know if the center is large enough on a 4 lug... The wheels are also pretty thin and prone to crack around the spokes where welded at the perimeter.

They'd look OG to the early classes though!
 
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harleys dad

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Johnny Milam was a winner in that class 7 truck for many years, for what it was he hauled butt
 

RTacker

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Does anybody have any build info on The Idea Truck or The Scorpio truck? I have a '76 SR5 that I'm doing a rally/baja-lite build on and I'm looking for some of their classic spec info
 
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