1991 Toyota Pickup - An Ode to an Awesome Old Truck

1991 Toyota Pickup – An Ode to an Awesome Old Truck

Some articles on Desk to Dirtbag (and just what is a dirtbag, anyway?) contain affiliate links, meaning that if you make a purchase through these links, I may earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you!). Thank you for reading!


Some people might think it’s a bit crazy to go driving all over the world in an old 1991 Toyota Pickup truck… I mean the thing is now 26 years old. She’s old enough to vote, go out drinking in bars, or even old enough to rent a car herself.

But I can’t think of a better, more capable vehicle then the one I got.

1991 Toyota Pickup Truck Hilux

Griselda is her name. If you speak Spanish, you might know that gris means gray, and she’s a gray pickup, so the name seemed like a great fit, especially as we drove across the heart of Mexico.

I’ve had Griselda, my 1991 Toyota Pickup ever since high school. She’s been my one and only vehicle ever since the beginning, and we’ve been through a lot together, I mean she’s been around for fully half my life.

These old Toyota pickup trucks are ideal because they are known for being tough old trucks that just keep going and going. There’s a reason that they are among the most popular trucks for guerrillas and revolutionary fighters all over the world. They work in some of the most inhospitable conditions on earth and they are easy to fix when things go wrong.

1991 Toyota Pickup Truck Hilux

My truck had about 140,000 miles when I left my Washington, D.C. desk job at the end of 2012, and since then I’ve put on another 50,000 miles road tripping (a few times) across the American West and then driving in Central America and then driving the Pan American Highway to South America.

Before setting out I added a Leer 122 canopy and converted the back into a truck bed camper where I can live (and haul all my gear for living in a truck and for life on the road).

Besides the canopy, the big knobby BF Goodrich tires, and getting it jacked up for clearance, the truck is basically a totally stock 1991 Toyota Pickup.

1991 Toyota Pickup Truck Hilux

I haven’t done any major Toyota Pickup modifications like many other overlanders do, besides adding a dual battery and isolator setup (so great), tinting the windows for security, and getting HID headlights installed.

More About the 1991 Toyota Pickup

It is a fifth generation Hilux, although they weren’t sold under that name in the USA, but rather the simple Toyota Pickup name.

Mine is a regular cab, and features a 5-speed manual transmission, a four cylinder, 2.4L 22RE engine, and has four wheel drive.

In 1991 Toyota began producing some of these trucks in the USA, but many during this period (1991-1995) were still manufactured in Japan — if so, the VIN starts with a JT (like mine!), but it starts with a 4T if it was made in the USA.

1991 Toyota Pickup Truck Hilux

These trucks may not have many bells and whistles — I don’t have A/C, power windows, power locks, and none of those fancy modern day contraptions — and they may not be the most powerful trucks out there, but they definitely get the job done.

Conquering Extremes

I’ve driven all over the USA and Canada, in conditions well below freezing in the Canadian Rockies in winter, or the scorching heat of Death Valley in summer.

1991 Toyota Pickup Truck Hilux

But let’s face it, there isn’t too much crazy terrain in the Continental USA…

Since crossing the border and heading south into Mexico, Griselda, my 1991 Toyota Pickup, has conquered even crazier situations.

We’ve navigated thousands of miles of crazily potholed roads and hit some unexpected speed bumps going a little too fast — while still remaining intact.

We’ve suffered through the intense heat and humidity of the Mexican summer, or along the mosquito infested Caribbean coast.

1991 Toyota Pickup Truck Hilux

She’s been loaded up onto dingy little barges to cruise up remote, tropical rivers.

* Wish you could travel more and more affordably? Click here to grab my free course and resources that will show you exactly how I've been able to travel for more than four years.


1991 Toyota Pickup Truck Hilux

She’s forded 100 foot wide, knee deep rivers chock full of boulders and fast moving water.

1991 Toyota Pickup Truck Hilux

She’s plowed through thick jungle mud…

1991 Toyota Pickup Truck Hilux

Driven through sand of every color and consistency…

1991 Toyota Pickup Truck Hilux

She’s even been loaded into a cargo container and shipped across to a new continent…

1991 toyota pickup truck hilux-16

In South America we encountered even more incredible extremes!

She’s plugged along (albeit slowly at times) as we climbed roads with elevations in excess of 15,000 feet above sea level — roads higher than any mountain that exists in the Continental USA.

1991 Toyota Pickup Truck Hilux

Time after time again…

1991 Toyota Pickup Truck Hilux

Keep in mind, she’s got bigger tires, a big truck canopy, and is carrying the two of us plus a few hundred pounds of gear for life on the road, including cooking gear, food, clothes, water, camping equipment, chairs, a cooler, etc., (here’s what I travel with for truck camping).

Even so, this 1991 Toyota Pickup gets about 17 MPG (miles per gallon) in its current state and operating in some pretty extreme places.

1991 Toyota Pickup - An Ode to an Awesome Old Truck

She’s taken us down the length of the Andes and provided an excellent home on wheels, until we arrived, ultimately, to the end of the road… Ushuaia, Argentina!

1991 Toyota Pickup - An Ode to an Awesome Old Truck

My 1991 Toyota Pickup

The truck is also great because any small town mechanic has the tools and parts to be able to work on this truck, and Toyota trucks like this were sold all over the world, not like other vehicles you might find.

Griselda has been an awesome adventure mobile and road trip companion over the years, and continues to hold up well despite her 26 years and 190,000 miles. I truly think the 1991 Toyota Pickup is one of the best and most capable overland vehicles you might find.

1991 Toyota Pickup Truck Hilux

So hey, Griselda, I just wanted to say thanks for a great 50,000 miles of adventures together since we started this blog, and here’s to another 50,000 more… Let’s go to where the roads end and then back again.

Read Next: My Top Budget Travel Resources

Share This

Did you enjoy this post? Please take a moment to share it on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter.

My awesome adventure mobile, an ode to my 1991 Toyota Pickup that's taken me all over the world...

The following two tabs change content below.
1991 Toyota Pickup - An Ode to an Awesome Old Truck

Ryan

Author, Writer, and Head Honcho at Desk to Dirtbag
Ryan is an author, adventurer, perpetual wanderer, and self-proclaimed dirtbag (but that might not mean what you think). Originally from Seattle, he headed to Washington D.C. where he spent five years working for Congress before heeding the call of the wild. He set out living in his pickup truck to road trip across the American West. Since then he backpacked through Colombia, drove across all of Central America, and also wrote a best selling book: Big Travel, Small Budget. He just finished driving his old truck across all of South America -- support the adventures by visiting the D2D Shop. Follow the adventures on social media or read more about me.

Comments 10

  1. Thank you for sharing your experiences and tips. I have my father’s ’90 SR5 Pickup with 250,000 miles and love it. Its been in the family since new and has the 3.0 motor. Great trucks!

  2. My ‘circum North America’ trip (Seattle -> Fairbanks -> Maine -> Guatemala – > Seattle; 40k miles) was in a tiny Ford Escort wagon many years ago, so it’s true that any vehicle will get the job done, one way or another. -)
    At any rate, thanks for the idea about the Leer 122. I also love my own Toyota truck, a ’99 2WD Tacoma. 317k miles on it but uber reliable and the engine (4cyl, 2.4L) is still going strong. I’ve done lots of camping in it with a slightly tall canopy but the Leer one would be a big lifestyle upgrade, I can see now. (I assume our mpg difference – I get about 10 mpg better – is more about 2WD vs 4WD, than canopy height?)
    Question: Have you figured out a way to keep rain leaks to a minimum? My shell isn’t very good about that.

    1. Post
      Author

      Wow, that’s definitely an epic road trip, love it. And yeah, any vehicle works, the most important thing is just getting out there and not obsessing on perfection.

      Yeah, the mileage difference must be between the 2wd v 4wd, because I didn’t notice any major fuel efficiency losses when I installed the canopy.

      I honestly haven’t had any problems with leaks in the past 5 years, but mine was new and professionally installed, so that could be the difference?

    1. Post
      Author
      1. OK I feel a bit better about my 6′ 9″ bed then. Just got the cap, so I’m still in the planning stages for the build, but I like your approach.

  3. I own a 1990 Toyota extended cab 4×4. I’ve had her almost three years so I don’t have the long relationship you do but I love it. Mine only has 111k on it. I’ve only done one night of camping in her and that was before I got my $200 truck canopy. Honestly I also own a 2005 Honda CRV that I think will become my main camping car. I just feel safer being able to lock the doors and I already figured out a sleep system with no build, but I’m my mind I know I can use my Toyota as well. Can’t believe we have almost the same truck. I just started following you so I’ll have to catch up on your travels. I am very curious about how it is driving in different countries and what about car insurance and health insurance? I’m definitely older than you so health insurance is very important to me. Also being a woman I have more personal safety issues to consider. Looking forward to reading more fellow 90’s Toyota owner!

    1. Post
      Author

      Hey Lisa, that’s so cool! I’d love the extended cab version of my truck, that’d be perfect! If you want to stick with the CRV, you can sell me your Toyota 4×4 😀 It’s got so few miles on it, it’d be ripe for a big adventure.

      As for car insurance, that’s pretty easy, just handled in each individual country (you can let your normal insurance lapse if you plan to be gone for a long time, because it won’t apply). Health insurance is a little trickier and depends on each person, ie if you will be traveling long-term you don’t want insurance in the USA and don’t need it. You might get traveler’s insurance instead. Check out my FAQ for more details about this stuff.

  4. I bought a basic Hilux 2×4 brand new many years ago, had it for 7 years, and didn’t have a single problem with it. It was under-powered and a rough ride, but otherwise did everything I asked of it.

    1. Post
      Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *