Toyota Hilux Bruiser: our full-size replica of the Tamiya legend

For all its toughness, there’s a playful element to the Toyota Hilux that can put a smile on any driver’s face, a big-toy appeal that’s lasted through generations of the world-beating pick-up. Tamiya celebrated this quality when it produced its hugely popular radio-controlled scale model version back in the 1980s. Now Toyota is returning the compliment with its own, custom-built working replica of this miniature hero – the Hilux Bruiser.

The big difference – and we mean big – is that this is a full-size machine that’s kitted out for the extremes of off-road driving, courtesy of the team that built the Arctic-conquering Polar Hilux.

Hilux Bruiser: how it was made

The one-off Hilux Bruiser is based on a new Hilux Extra Cab model in order to retain the model’s two-door appearance.

To scale-up the original model’s big-wheeled look, Arctic Trucks installed its AT35 conversion, fitting 17-inch wheels with massive, land-devouring 305/80 R17 tyres. This called for engineering changes, too, with uprated Fox Shox suspension, new gear ratios in the differential to maintain speedometer accuracy and flared wheel arches.

The new alloy wheels have been chromed to harmonise with those of the model, and the bodywork is wrapped in a high-metallic Diamond Blue vinyl by the skilled team at Funkee Fish. The Bruiser’s famous Hog Heaven livery and all other decals were digitally reproduced by hand, along with faithful reproductions of the distinctive tri-colour stripes that run the length of the body and frame the bonnet.

On the tailgate, the TOYOTA legend looks as though it has been stamped into the metal, an effect achieved using a special domed gel. The same material was used to simulate the raised window surrounds on the white ‘sleeper cab’ section of the cabin.

Just like the model, the Hilux Bruiser has what appears to be a louvred rear window. In fact, it was impossible to source such a retro conversion for this modern vehicle, so a two-dimensional vinyl print has been applied that looks just like the real thing, even at close quarters.

Expert model-maker and fabricator Robert Selway was responsible for recreating some of the details in 1:1 scale, including a replica on/off switch in the load bed, R-shape body clips and tubular bumpers and rock sliders. The body clips on the bonnet and within the load bed are magnetic and for show only, while the bumpers and rock sliders have been fabricated from stainless steel exhaust tubing and wrapped in white vinyl to make them look like the model’s plastic parts.

In a move away from the Tamiya original, Toyota’s Hilux Bruiser has a large antenna behind the cab to reinforce the impression of it being a radio-controlled model.

James Clark, Toyota GB Press Relations Manager, said: “While Hilux is all about capability, owners and all fans of pick-ups and big trucks know a big part of the experience is also about having fun. In that spirit, we wanted to do something truly original to celebrate the latest Hilux and carry forward the great relationship we have with Tamiya.

“The Hilux Bruiser combines all the colour and character of the wonderful model while also being a seriously engineered machine that can cut it in the roughest conditions.”

Hilux Bruiser: What’s under the bonnet?

While the Tamiya model runs an electric motor delivering drive through a three-speed gearbox, the Hilux Bruiser is powered by the standard 148bhp four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine, with all-wheel drive through a six-speed manual transmission. It is street legal and will make appearances at events around the country.

The Hilux Bruiser’s development is another take on the Little and Large theme that Toyota explored in its earlier films showing how the Tamiya models can deal with tough driving conditions, just like their big brother. These popular videos can be seen by clicking the links below.

See more: Hilux Little and Large – Tow
See more: Hilux Little and Large – Mud
See more: Hilux Little and Large – Pull
See more: Hilux Little and Large – Wade


  1. I still come back to this page many months later to admire this wonderful build. It’s an incredible creation.
    Superb in every way Toyota.

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