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The Toyota Hilux becomes an RC car for grown-ups (batteries not required)

You’ve grown up; so have your remote-controlled cars, as it turns out. Toyota’s British division has teamed up with RC car manufacturer Tamiya to build a modern, life-sized replica of a model car that marked an entire generation of kids. The Bruiser is bolder than ever, and this time you can actually slip behind the wheel and take it for a spin.

The original Tamiya Bruiser released in 1985 was inspired by Toyota’s Hilux pickup truck. Its modern counterpart is based on the current-day Toyota Hilux, a Tacoma-sized pickup truck sold in countless global markets but not in the United States. Toyota started the project with an Extra Cab model in a bid to preserve the Bruiser’s classic two-door proportions, and it enlisted a company named Arctic Trucks to install a long list of off-road-focused add-ons.

Making suspension modifications was crucial to get the look just right. Arctic Trucks lifted the Hilux off the ground by adding custom components from Fox Shox and 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped by immense BF Goodrich tires. It’s the exact same hardware used on trucks built to tackle grueling terrain on expeditions across the Arctic. Sizable fender flares and protective metal bars over the rocker panels complement the monster truck-like tires.

Meet the Toyota Hilux Bruiser

The livery is faithful to the original, right down to the “hog heaven” stickers on the doors and the white Toyota emblem on the tailgate. Toyota explains sourcing window louvers for a modern-day truck proved impossible, so it settled for a two-dimensional vinyl print that looks surprisingly realistic. No RC car would be complete without an on/off switch, and the Bruiser doesn’t disappoint. A look in the pickup box reveals a non-functional switch the size of a large tool box and magnetic clips modeled after the ones that hold the RC car together.

Toyota’s Bruiser replica retains the stock Hilux’s 150-horsepower, four-cylinder turbodiesel engine, so there’s no need to make engine noises with your mouth. It sends its power to all four wheels via a six-speed manual transmission. It’s fully street-legal, and it’s every bit as capable as its brawny design suggests. Toyota stresses it’s just a one-of model built to turn heads, but it promises to display the truck at various events in England over the coming months. After that, odds are it will join the Hilux-based real-life Tonka truck in the company’s collection of one-of-a-kind, childhood hero-inspired pickups.

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Ronan Glon
Ronan Glon is an American automotive and tech journalist based in southern France. As a long-time contributor to Digital…
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