The 2004 Toyota Hilux Could Do Many Cool Things, Like Fit in a British RAF Helicopter

The mighty pickup could simply be rolled into a chopper without any special prep work. These things are important, okay?

byCaleb Jacobs|
Toyota News photo

Internationally, Toyota's known just as much for its unkillable trucks as it is for its bulletproof commuter cars. The Hilux pickup is renowned for its toughness, and military forces across the globe have made use of its go-anywhere capability for decades. After all, if Top Gear couldn't stop one by dropping it from a crane or smashing it with a travel trailer, it's probably good enough for carrying cargo across the desert. Question is, will it fit in an RAF Merlin HC 3 helicopter?

Apparently so, since Toyota put out a press release saying exactly that back in 2004. The United Kingdom's Ministry of Defense took a Hilux 4x4 Double Cab in factory form and met up with officials at 28 Squadron RAF Benson to conduct the test. Everything went off without a hitch and the trial lasted only 30 minutes. Really, it’s surprising it took that long, seeing as it's just driving the truck up and down a ramp. That's beside the point, though.

The point is, Toyota's venerable workhorse was perfectly proportioned to drive into a Merlin's cargo deck with zero structural modifications to the chopper or the truck. It may seem like no big deal, but when a country's government has the budget for dozens of fleet Hiluxes, it helps Toyota make the case for its uber durable pickups. That, and it's just kinda cool to know that if some random Hilux owner acquired a Merlin, they could transport it super easily. Right?


Given the bloat of modern trucks, a new Hilux probably couldn't claim the same feat. For the 2004 model year, the four-door Hilux measured 4.79 meters long, 1.78 meters high, and 1.7 meters across. New models with the same cab and box configuration are a little larger, ticking the boxes at 5.3 meters long, 1.8 meters high and 1.8 meters across. As you can see, the length is the deciding factor here.

As you do when talking about the Hilux, it's also important to note just how much cooler it was/is than the Tacoma we got stateside in the '00s. While they looked about the same, the Hilux had a 2.5-liter turbodiesel that was bulletproof. Sure, it only made 102 horsepower, but the truck still had a max payload capacity of 2,347 pounds with towing capabilities nudging 5,000 pounds. So you have all that compared to the Tacoma's top-spec gas V6, and the U.S. market truck managed slightly less with 2,005 pounds of payload and a max towing capacity of 3,500 pounds. 

These might seem like small advantages and, admittedly, they are. But the Hilux is still a legend, and you'll be able to legally import one like the truck in the Merlin in less than 10 years. Less than 10!


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