2023 Bull Market Pick: 1984–88 Toyota Pickup 4×4 SR5
Welcome back to the Hagerty Bull Market List, our annual deep dive into the collector cars (and bikes) climbing the value ranks. This vehicle is one of 11 chosen for the 2023 installment of the List. To see the other 10, click here.
By the time the second-generation Pickup (Hilux in other markets) hit dealership lots in 1984, Toyota’s reputation for creating quality small trucks had solidified. Much of the new Pickup’s mechanical bits—like Toyota’s legendarily reliable 22R 2.4-liter four-cylinder, solid-front-axle suspension, and transfer case—were carried over from the prior generation. However, the second-gen Pickup donned more aggressive sheetmetal, replete with blistered fender flares, square headlights, and a contemporary grille. Most of the collector buzz revolves around the four-wheel-drive models with the SR5 package, but the Pickup was available in a plethora of bed, cab, and drivetrain configurations.
The Pickup recipe didn’t change much throughout its four-year production run. On 4×4 models, the 22R engine gained fuel injection in 1985 and an optional turbocharger in 1986. The live-axle front suspension was phased out in ’86 and exchanged for an independent front suspension with torsion bars. No ground clearance was lost in the transition, but hardcore off-roaders prefer the stick axle. In 1988, the truck’s last model year, Toyota ditched the top-of-the-line turbo engine for a 3.0-liter V-6. By the end of its production run, Toyota had moved over 1.5 million of its second-generation Pickups in North America alone.
Alan Dreiman became enamored with the Pickup by way of one of his favorite films, Back to the Future. As a young enthusiast, he lacked the funds for a DeLorean, so he bought an ’85 Toyota Pickup, the same model year as the fictional Marty McFly’s black example. Dreiman’s first Pickup kicked off an eight-year journey of buying, restoring, and selling these trucklets as a side gig. He reckons that 1980s nostalgia is the driving factor for rising Pickup values, as most of his clients are Gen Xers.
Finding a good Pickup can be a challenge. Although the mechanicals—apart from the engine’s timing chain guides—are stout, the body panels and interior parts do not stand the test of time. Road salt turns northeastern Pickups to dust, and sun exposure in the South causes interior plastics to become brittle and seat fabric to fade. Patch panels are available to fix rusty trucks, but replacements for broken interior pieces and worn fabric are no longer available. According to Dreiman, the best second-gen pickups are found in the Pacific Northwest due to the lack of both road salt and oppressive sun.
He appreciates the versatility of Toyota’s small truck, claiming the stock suspension can handle any off-road excursion within reason while not being unbearable on the street. “You can daily-drive one and then take it up a mountain the next weekend,” he says. Generating only 116 hp from its 22R-E engine, this Pickup is far from fast, but that doesn’t bother Dreiman. The simplicity of the drivetrain and ease of maintenance are more important virtues than acceleration.
If you are an enthusiast looking to jump into the world of vintage 4x4s but you don’t have the funds to buy an FJ40 Land Cruiser or an early Ford Bronco, the second-generation Toyota Pickup hits the sweet spot of affordability, great looks, and off-road credibility.
Highs: Reliable as a Swiss watch; rugged good looks; off-road prowess.
Lows: As fast as a Swiss watch; proclivity for rust; most were used for truck stuff, so finding a good one is difficult.
Price range: #1 – $34,800 #2 – $22,700 #3 – $16,700 #4 – $6600
HAGERTY AUTO INTELLIGENCE SAYS:
Long considered just a used truck, Toyota’s fourth-generation Pickup has finally achieved collector-car status. The number of them added to Hagerty policies has quadrupled since 2017, with younger collectors as the fastest-growing segment. Although boomers currently own 43 percent of them, collectors under 40 more than doubled their ownership share since 2019, from 7 percent to 16. A nearly equal third of insurance policy quotes come from boomers, Gen X, and millennials.
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