‘Tonka’ is a name that resonates with us as it’s probably a contributing factor with our fascination with machines - automobiles in particular. Toyota has spotted this connection and built a bright yellow, extra rugged HiLux concept vehicle to prove it understands the kid in all of us.
Toyota Australia, specifically, took the wraps off the Tonka Concept in Sydney, the culmination of a design and engineering effort by the Japanese automaker’s active local division that should at least ignite some old memories of crawling around the backyard, pretending to be on a critical excavation mission.
The joint project came about as a commemoration of both Tonka and Toyota’s anniversary, with the former celebrating 70 years while Toyota passes the 80-year mark.
"The HiLux Tonka Concept is dramatic evidence that our local team loves to have fun, we're keen to explore new ideas and we're always looking to push the boundaries of what's possible,” said Nicholas Hogios, Product Design chief.
Underneath the life-size Tonka truck is a very obviously modified HiLux SR5 that’s been pulled and ‘roided-up by every physical measure and featuring a 150mm in additional ground clearance, a wider 2180mm track (a 325mm increase), and riding on beefier suspension and a set of 35-inch off-road tyres.
To protect vital components in the engine bay, Toyota Australia have also given it a 6mm thick baseplate for the engine sump and a some tubular side rails to deflect potentially crippling objects from the HiLux’s underside.
Its special portal axle 4x4 system feature special reduction gearbox mounted in each wheel hub make for finer distribution of torque and its heavy duty King Spring shock absorbers have remote hydraulic reservoirs to handle the punishment of high speed desert traversal. Toyota have also fitted spare tyres, a high-lift jack, an axe, and a fire extinguisher to round out ‘sole survivor’ appeal.
Up front there’s a new front tow bar that integrated with the altered fascia to match the additional black cladding around the HiLux and there’s also a carbon fibre skin applied to the building bonnet which hides retained 2.8-litre turbo-diesel engine that produces 130kW and 450Nm (or 420Nm for the manual transmission).
The carryover powerplant does have more heft to lug around, though, with the Tonka weighing over 300kg more than the standard HiLux SR5. Elsewhere, you really cannot miss the bright Sun Fusion yellow primary colour of this Tonka tribute concept. In case you do (most likely at night), there’s a string of LED lights set within a roof-mounted pod and even more illumination fitted to the front bumper.