Rare Rides: The 1995 Toyota T100, a Truck of a Different Era

Trucks were simpler when today’s Rare Ride was new. No giant grilles, no Ranch Platinum 1764 Embroidery Edition, and no ridiculous styling (I see you, Tundra.) The T100 was a reliable essence of truck, even if it wasn’t what the American market wanted.

Until the T100 came along, Toyota offered exactly one truck in its North American lineup: the Pickup. And while that compact had a loyal following, it wasn’t the right size to capture the meat of the North American market that wanted a full-size. Enter T100.

Toyota designed the T100 specifically for the US and Canada, after hearing many dealer complaints about customers moving from the Pickup to a larger domestic offering. Introduced for the 1993 model year, all T100s were produced at a Hino factory in Tokyo.

T100s were offered with three different engines: a 2.7-liter inline-four, 3.0-liter V6, or 3.4-liter V6. The 3.0 was the launch engine and managed 150 horsepower. All engines were shared with the 4Runner. Transmissions had four speeds if automatic, or five if manual. Four-wheel drive was an optional extra.

With an eight-foot bed, the T100 was what Toyota considered a full-size offering. In reality, it was slightly larger than the Dodge Dakota, a midsize. At 209.1 inches long and 75.2 inches wide, it was much smaller than a 235-inch long bed F-150, which was also 79 inches wide. The diminutive size was intentional, however, as Toyota calculated that going head-to-head with the Big Three in the full-size truck world would cause a ruckus. Thus the T100 was slightly smaller than those three, to be enough for the full-size truck customer who wanted a Toyota.

Criticism poured in about the T100s size and its lack of an extended cab option. While Toyota remedied the cab issue for 1994, the issue they didn’t rectify was a distinctly American one: Customers wanted a V8 engine in their full-size truck. Toyota claimed they considered all of these things during the T100s development, and customers should enjoy the fuel economy of the V6 and its benefit to the environment. Truck buyers shrugged.

Sales were slow for T100 and peaked in 1996 at around 45,000 units, a figure that paled in comparison to Chevy’s 700,000 and Ford’s 850,000. The T100 also felt the pain of Ram, as sales fell 30 percent after about a year when the excellent ’94 Ram 1500 was introduced. Toyota learned a difficult lesson with T100 about North America and full-size trucks. They fired up a plant in Indiana to produce the Tundra for 2000.

Today’s Rare Ride is a lovely T100 from 1995. In white over blue, it’s automatic and has covered just 77,000 miles. It’s old man spec too, two-wheel drive with a cap. Yours for $5,500.

[Images: Toyota]

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