I am just getting back into the hobby of Tamiyas after a 20 something year gap and I cannot belive that at one point in the mid 80s I owned 2, yes 2 Toyota Hi Luxs I got cheap - I didn't realise how much they would be worth now - I had a second hand one out of the window of a model shop for my birthday - I think my dad paid £100. The other Hi Lux was as they say on e Bay NIB - I got this for I think for £60 - £70 from a model shop that was concentrating on electric trains and thinking I was a little kid wheeler dealer I sold it to a friend and doubled the money - what a fool I was I should have kept at least one
I badly wanted one of these Hilux's when they were new, but couldnt quite afford it. But I managed to get a part built , un-used, un-painted one for a little over 1/2 price. I have used it a considerable amount, and done lots of miles with it. They are long lasting, if they are looked after. I softend the springs, by cutting 3 of the front leaves, and two of the rear, now it has good wheel travel. The Hilux was made for towing, and i have 3 trailers for it to tow.The lack of a working diffs, makes life hard for the hubs, but they have lasted well, considering how much work they have done. The Hilux and Blazer have realy captured the collector's interest, and with good cause. I have always loved the Hilux for its "total realism", thats what won it over for me.
The 3-speeds have amassed a great number of fans over the 25 years since the Hilux was introduced and it is not difficult to see why. "Absolute realism!!" as it says on the box sums it up nicely! The only downside is the cost of getting one. It is called the most desirable RC-car, the Holy Grail and a must have in any collection etc. Dreaming, and eventually, realizing a old dream by finally getting one makes it all worth while. That is were the real fun begins! The Toyota 4x4 and its mechanical speed controller sibling, Blazing Blazer are truly engineering masterpieces. The younger Bruiser/Mountaineers have a somewhat different construction. They are of a more modern cut (although the came with MSCs) and make for better runners.
The box art or not debate is old. Some of the obsession is chiefly about conserving the value of the car or building it the way Tamiya intended to, which is understandable and I do agree that these cars look great when painted in box art schemes. However, they look just as great and awesome in alternative paint schemes. (The Hilux featured Italian blue.) The Hilux does not have the same sporty race appearance as the Blazing Blazer (the driver is meant to not be the helmeted version albeit both heads came with the kit) and I think that non-racing paint and decal jobs could look just as good.
A note regarding the optional SRB-type dampers, they did come with the kit on some markets some years. That depended on the distributor. Tamiya did not include them. The transistorised speed controller (TSC) does its job but it is not equal to a modern (and smooth) ESC. It also cuts out very early on rough terrain. I consider it a great technical achievement but recognize that today's ESCs are much better. It is worth mentioning that the speed controller supports the front cab so simply removing it will put more stress on the lugs on the radio box lid.
Most people have never had the fortune to try one first hand. If you have only seen the car on video the real thing might prove a tad disappointing. The transmission is noisy and the TSC renders smooth starts impossible. If you do not drive on a perfectly flat surface the body will clatter against the body posts in an almost ridiculous manner. The suspension is as stiff as any royal upper lip. Running around with one wheel constantly in the air somewhat ruins the otherwise near perfect scale appearance.
Speaking of scale appearance, the rear bed is also a tad disappointing since the bed is flat (level with the sides). It has to be since the radio box is underneath but still the Bruisers/Mountaineers are better in that aspect.
However, I dare say that, the Tamiya F-350 High Lift is the best drive. It is a more modern car and the price (both for the car and spare parts) makes it more realistic to most people.
It may sound as if it had not aged well. It has! The body clatter can be eliminated by simply adding small bits of nitro fuel tubing. Add a modern ESC and experience a smooth drive. The suspension can be modified and made softer, I have not. Regarding the scale looks of the rear bed; you forget that once you drive it in its true element. Every drive is a treat!
The first of the nick named '3 speeds'. What an amazing radio controlled model for its time! Everything about this truck is 'Realism'. Even down to hiding away all the radio in the mechanism box tucked away under the rear body section.
I've been led to believe the chassis was actually modelled around the real HIlux chassis. With it's alloy rails from front to back, Leaf springs, Proper realistic alloy axle casings & adjustable front hubs for free wheeling when in 2WD. Sand Scorcher dampers came as an optional extra, Not with the kit. A transistorised speed controller was added for better control. Which works really well until it goes wrong! The 3 speed gearbox is just the work of a genius. if you have never seen inside one, You won't believe the complexity. Around 40 seperate parts! If you ever run these gearbox's, Use some good motor oil & plenty of it, NOT grease. It makes it last 10 times longer. Never run them dry.
The two piece body is just detail heaven! Especially that front cab with it's interior, Driver, Headlights & indicators. Only items it could have done with were window wipers. The rear bed section is also detailed, But only with a single plastic rear light section. This body is another box art must! Red, And those yellow/orange stripes just look right! Painting the detail on this body can be a challenge, But my word is it worth it.
If you have never run a 3 speed & you can afford one, Do so. They are truly soo much fun in the right environment. I advise a later 3 speed though (Bruiser/Mountaineer) Just because the Hilux is lower to the ground & those leaf springs don't really work that well.
All in all this is one of thee most collectable Tamiya's ever made. It's complexity, Running abilities & sheer good looks makes it VERY desirable for anyone, Not just the collector. That's why prices of anything to do with 3 speeds are high. You will be very lucky to get any 3 speeds in good condition for under £300! NIB kits are just £1000 territory.