Never heard of the Trekker? Read on.
The SUV market was very different nearly 40 years ago when the Toyota Trekker arrived. Sure, the Ford Bronco and Chevy Blazer were in existence, but the competition wasn't anywhere near as fierce as now. Crossovers? The segment didn't even officially exist yet, though the AMC Eagle would have certainly qualified. The first-generation Toyota 4Runner didn't arrive until 1983 but the automaker experimented with this segment two years prior with the Trekker. Think of the Trekker as the 4Runner's direct predecessor but only about 1,500 examples were built and sold in the US. Needless to say, they're extremely rare, and finding one in amazing condition is very special. Today is one of those special days.
Up for sale from Michigan-based Vanguard Motor Sales is this exquisite 1981 Toyota Trekker. It's a reminder of an era when SUVs were little more than pickup trucks with a rear seat and a covered bed. Barebones is an accurate description. The Trekker is an important part of Toyota's history because it was one of the first truck-to-SUV conversions.
Winnebago Industries was contracted for the task and used Toyota's only truck at the time, the potent Hilux (remember, this was also way before the Tacoma arrived). The experiment proved itself useful because the 4Runner was launched not long after. As for the Trekker, every example was built on the short box chassis and classified as SR5 models. In order to avoid the ridiculous 25 percent assembled truck customs tax, Toyota sent the trucks to Winnebago from Japan as nothing more than a cab and chassis.
The conversion itself was quite simple, consisting of a new fiberglass tub, canopy, bed sides, and a rear hatch. The rear seat could also be folded flat for additional cargo space. All Trekkers came powered by a 2.4-liter inline-four with fuel injection. Total output came to just 97 horsepower and 128 lb-ft of torque and paired to a five-speed manual gearbox.
Other notable features include power steering, power brakes, and air conditioning. This specific Trekker's interior is equipped with front bucket seats, a rear bench seat, and lots of tan vinyl upholstery. The AM/FM radio still works without any issues. The bright yellow exterior also appears to be immaculate, as do the body decals and chrome trim. The seller also notes the underside remains solid. The frame, skid plate, brake lines, and all suspension components are in ideal shape. The price? Well, it's not cheap, as you can expect for something this rare.
The asking price is $49,900. A brand new Toyota 4Runner, to compare, starts at around $36,000. Still, there's something so genuine about this Trekker that could easily tempt someone away from its modern-day ancestor.