Tonka Toy-ota: Aussie techs go big on bakkie conversion

  • No, it’s real, and it plays in the Outback
  • Aussie off-road team goes nuts with grown-up toy
  • 70 years of Tonka Toys, 80 years of Toyota
OUT IN THE SANDPIT: Image: Toyota / Quickpic
NO, IT’S THE REAL THING: Toyota Australia engineers created this superbakkie to celebrate the 70th birthday of Tonka Toys and the 80th anniversary of the creation of Toyota motors.   Image: Toyota Australia / Quickpic

Toyota says it has reimagined its “unbreakable” – just look at its Dakar successes! – Hilux as a full-scale Tonka toy and brought together two world-famous brands “in a celebration of their shared reputations for lasting toughness”.

The Hilux Tonka Concept was created by Toyota Australia (dare The Corner says #that figures’) to celebrate the high-riding off-roader version becoming the country’s best-selling vehicle in 2016.#

WATCH the Toyota Tonka truck in action

Tonka is a household name, celebrating its 70th anniversary this year; Toyota is in its 80th year.

The Aussie unveiling coincides with the release of Toyota GB’s series of short films which show the Hilux going to head-to-head with its tiny Tamiya radio-controlled model counterpart in a series of off-road and performance challenges.

OUT IN THE SANDPIT: Image: Toyota / Quickpic
NEXT? THE DAKAR? The giant wheels, bash plate, snorkel and off-road lights would make a formidable entry. Image: Toyota Australia / Quickpic

The concept was designed, assembled and tested by designers and engineers from Toyota Australia’s 150-strong product planning and development division.


Product design chief Nicolas Hogios said: “The extreme style and capability of the Hilux Tonka Concept will capture the imagination of kids and adults.

“We’ve taken Tonka out of the sand-pit and re-invented the Hilux from top to bottom, nose to tail.

“Though inspired by the Tonka trucks that kids play with in their back yards it goes way beyond the already huge capabilities of Hilux to traverse rocks and other rugged terrain..

“It’s also dramatic evidence that our Aussie team loves to have fun, are keen to explore new ideas and always looking to push the boundaries of what’s possible.”

Underneath the dramatic black-and-yellow livery, Toyota says, is a top-of-the-range production Hilux – an SR5 double-cab with a 2.8-litre turbodiesel engine. The makeover started starts with substantially higher ground clearance – the ride height is up by 15cm.


“The change involved a high-riding axle, heavy-duty suspension and 35″ diameter tyres,” the automaker said, “so the Tonka can power over rugged terrain that would be beyond conventional off-roaders.”

A new front bar is compatible with the vehicle’s safety systems (the crash bags, for instance, will still work), the bonnet has a carbon-fibre skin, a “power bulge” and air scoops. High-performance diode-lit off-road lighting in the bar and roof pod provide extra illumination for trails and a rugged bash plate – 6mm-thick alloy – guards the sump and other belly bits.

Tubular side rails protect the body and chassis.

READ MORE Toyota features on Carman’s corner

Behind the cabin are a new carbon fibre-wrapped tailgate (released by a lightweight strap rather than a handle) with a spoiler and air vents. The load bed has a removable tubular frame to keep camping and other  gear in place and storage boxes house the recovery gear needed for extreme off-road driving.

A fire extinguisher, axe, shovel and high-lift jack are also carried.

“The Hilux Tonka Concept won’t make it to showrooms (even for the Aussie Outback),” Toyota, , “but does give a glimpse of what is possible when a great team of engineers and designers put their heads together.!

And go out to play…

CUT DOWN TO SCALE: Don't forget to take a giant bucket and spade when you go out into the POutback's sandpit. Image: Toyota / Quickpic
CUT DOWN TO SCALE: Don’t forget to take a giant bucket and spade when you go out into the Outback’s sandpit. Image: Toyota / Quickpic

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