The 1995 Toyota T100, a Truck of a Different Era
Trucks were easier than today’s rare ride was new. No giant grills, no Ranch Platinum 1764 Embroidery Edition, and no ridiculous styling (I see you, Tundra.) The T100 was a dependable essence of the truck, even if it wasn’t what the American market wanted.
Until the T100 hit the market, Toyota had exactly one truck in its North American product range: the pickup. And while this compact had a loyal following, it wasn’t the right size to hit the meat of the North American market that wanted a full-size. Enter T100.
Toyota designed the T100 specifically for the US and Canada after hearing many dealer complaints about customers switching from pickup trucks to a larger domestic offering. Introduced for the 1993 model year, all T100s were manufactured in a Hino factory in Tokyo.
T100s were offered with three different engines: a 2.7-liter inline four-cylinder, a 3.0-liter V6, or a 3.4-liter V6. The 3.0 was the starting engine and created 150 hp. All engines were shared with the 4Runner. Transmissions had four gears when they were automatic or five when they were manual. All-wheel drive was an optional extra.
With a two and a half meter high bed, the T100 was what Toyota considered a full size offering. In reality, it was slightly larger than the Dodge Dakota, a mid-range car. At 209.1 inches long and 75.2 inches wide, it was much smaller than a 235 inch long F-150 bed that was also 79 inches wide. The small size was on purpose, however, as Toyota calculated that a head-to-head race with the Big Three would cause turmoil in the world of full-size trucks. Thus, the T100 was slightly smaller than these three in order to suffice for the full-size truck customer who wanted a Toyota.
There was criticism about the size of the T100 and the lack of an extended cabin option. While Toyota fixed the cab issue for 1994, the problem they didn’t fix was a clearly American one: customers wanted a V8 engine in their full-size truck. Toyota claimed to have thought of all of these things when developing the T100, and customers should enjoy the V6’s fuel economy and environmental benefits. Truck buyers shrugged their shoulders.
Sales of the T100 were slow, peaking at around 45,000 units in 1996, a number that pales in comparison to Chevy’s 700,000 and Ford’s 850,000. The T100 also felt the pain from Ram, as sales dropped 30 percent after about a year when the superb ’94 Ram 1500 was introduced. Toyota learned a difficult lesson about North America and full-size trucks with the T100. They set fire to a plant in Indiana to produce the tundra for the year 2000.
Today’s Rare Ride is a beautiful T100 from 1995. In white over blue, it’s automatic and has only covered 77,000 miles. It’s also Old Man Spec, two-wheel drive with a cap. Yours for $ 5,500.
Become a TTAC Insider. Get the latest news, features, TTAC footage, and everything else who knows the truth about cars first by subscribing to our Newsletter.