Las Vegas, Nevada

If your livelihood depends on the continued existence of the automobile, the Specialty Equipment Market Association's annual gala-slash-trade show cannot be missed.
1967 Toyota Stout
  1967 Stout
1971 Toyota Hilux
  1971 Hilux
1976 Toyota Hilux
  1976 Hilux
1979 Toyota SR-5 Pickup
  1979 SR-5 Pickup
1984 Toyota SR-5 Pickup
  1984 SR-5 4x4
Toyota Retro Cruiser
  Retro Cruiser
2007 Toyota Tundra Street Concept
  2007 Tundra Street

2007 Toyota Tundra Prerunner
  Vintage racing duds
Every fall, four days of utter bedlam erupts as manufacturers, vendors, buyers, journalists and photographers vie for elbow room and glimpses of booth-bound eye candy, both vehicular and human. It's the only place in the world where you can see a pure JDM R34 Skyline GT-R parked right next to a monster Ford F-350 jacked 30 inches upwise, along with a million dollar Ferrari Enzo, 1000-horsepower '69 Camaro, Hummer H2 dubbed out with 30-inch cubic zirconium rims, and all manners of rat rods, lead sleds, donks, muscle, tuners, classics and about 25 flashes of cleavage all before lunch.

Now normally being the Mecca of aftermarket parts means that Japanese steel on the floor will fall into one of 3 categories - 1. the latest Silvia-based drift machine, 2. an LCD-laden Scion, or 3. a rally-based AWD pressure cooker like the STi. This year, however, Toyota rolled out some true old school delights for us nostalgic car fans.

To commemorate the totally redesigned 2007 Tundra poised to unsettle the full-size truck market next year, five generations of pickups were called out of quiet retirement at the Toyota USA Automobile Museum to represent the big T. A brilliant red 1967 Stout, Hiluxes from 1971 and 1976, a 1979 SR-5 half-ton and gold-on-white 1984 long-bed SR-5 4x4, each more inexplicably mint than the next, stood before the convention center enduring fingerprints and inducing wistful nostalgia.
1967 Toyota Stout
  1967 Toyota 2000GT
Inside, Toyota displayed 2 polar opposite descendants of those trucks, a low 'n' sexy street truck concept and a brutish Prerunner clothed in the classic Toyota racing livery of white, yellow, orange and red.

Behind them, flanked by Camrys and Yarii in various states of modification ranging from extreme to more extreme, sat a 1969 2000GT, watching over many generations of an extended family like a proud elder.

The absolute coolest, hottest, sweetest, baddest, most bitchinest ride, and our personal show favorite, however, was the centerpiece of the display - a low-boy hot rod built from an FJ45 Land Cruiser. Though done up in true rodder style (chopped, narrowed and channeled, chromed and exposed front suspension, Mooneyes oil tank, pinstripes and half-moon hubcaps mounted on red-painted steelies) it remained faithful to Toyota heritage with a white-capped roof and wraparound rear windows.
Toyota FJ45 low-boy hot rod
  Redefining cool
Powered by a 750-horsepower Toyota NASCAR V8 with open headers and finished in a satin black from which even light could not escape, it's the kind of car that turns pimps into gimps. It also happened to tie in perfectly with the recent release of the 2007 FJ Cruiser, a rig so amicable to customization that any erstwhile ping-pong ball at the show would have made immediate contact with one.

Elsewhere in the sprawl, nostalgics were few and far between. The FJ-bodied but 80-series Land Cruiser based Retro Cruiser made an appearance. Cusco unveiled a new line of strut tower braces for vintage Japanese cars (see the article in the Market section). Once again, props to Toyota for kickin' it old school and flexing some heritage and here's hoping for more next year.


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