When it was new, the Toyota T100 pickup defied categorization, as Japanese car often do. Upon release, it was derided as being less powerful than the full-size pickups from the Big Three, but too large for the compact pickup class. The fact that it didn’t easily slot into a pre-determined category frazzled the brains of magazines and consumers alike, but looking back on it decades later, it was just about perfect.
Another way to describe it was that it handled like a lighter compact truck, but could still do almost all the things an average person would want to do with a full-size truck. Things like haul a 4-by-8-foot piece of plywood flat in the bed and tow up to 5,000 pounds (enough for a trailer and JNC project car).
In this 1993 Motorweek review, they described the T100 as an icebreaker into the last bastion held by the Big Three. It may have “only” had a 3.0-liter V6 with 150 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque, but it weighed 300 pounds less than the average Detroit truck, returning 15 city, 18 highway mpg.
As anyone who has traveled to Japan knows, smaller does not mean cheaper. In fact, it can sometimes be more expensive, and the $14,000 starting price for a base T100, or $16,000 for an SR5, was too rich for most buyers. However, if they did take the plunge, they would have gotten a supremely reliable truck. It was built in Japan but never sold there, so it also has weird cred for fans of USDM Jam. It would be a great addition to the JNC fleet, but given the prices — used ones still routinely ask $7,000 even with 250,000 miles — we haven’t been able to pull the trigger.