Live Auctions

Fire Away: 1981 Toyota Fire Truck


Imagine my surprise when I stumbled across this 1981 Toyota Hilux fire truck for sale here on craigslist in Austin, Texas. How did this truck get to America? What do you do with it anyway? How do you figure out what this truck is worth? But it is so cool, I have to think someone will take the plunge.


This is a Japanese market truck with right hand drive, of course, and like most fire and emergency equipment has traveled very few miles or more properly kilometers, as that is what the odometer is measuring. As the seller says: 17618 kilometers =10,947 miles.


And to add to its coolness, this is a four wheel drive truck, equipped with a solid axle and leaf springs in front (I don’t know if that was standard Toyota practice in 1981 or if this set up is unique to fire trucks like this one, I assume one of our readers will know the answer to that question).



According to the owner, all the special fire truck specific apparatus works, sirens, lights and even loudspeaker. The interior is clean, even though for American drivers, getting used to that RHD is pretty tough.



What can you do with this truck? The seller suggests it would be perfect to turn into a hunting buggy on your ranch. But I think the right hand drive and the presence of all that Japanese market coolness means it will end up in someone’s collection of oddities. It’s just not a practical driver here and really too strange and wonderful to mess with, or so it seems to me.


Who knows what this unusual (dare I say “unique”?) 35 year old Hilux should sell for? Naturally, the seller thinks it’s worth a lot, asking all of $12,500. He says it’s “priced to sell” but I think it’s priced to sit in his yard for awhile longer; based on a Facebook entry for this truck I found, it does look like the seller of this truck is some sort of a dealer, which may explain the high asking price. Someone may want this truck, but I believe the price will have to come down a lot before there will be a transaction. I’d love to hear what you guys think this should go for. Perhaps some of our readers are knowledgeable about vintage fire equipment and how to value them can weigh in on this question. I did a bit of searching online and could not find another truck like this one anywhere, making it perhaps more interesting but very difficult to value. It’s not something I want to own, but it sure is fun to look at.


  1. 8banger Dave Member

    Cool for sure. This, and all Hilux 4xs came with the bullet-proof solid front axle/leaf spring set up until about 1985/86, when they were replaced with CV joints for 4x duties. The engine is the 2.4 L 22R, carbureted but nonetheless, reliable as long as you don’t overheat them and replace the timing chain about every 80k.

  2. BradL

    I’d hate to buy it, then discover the door reads “Fukushima Fire Department.”

    • Howard A Member

      Hi Brag, that’s hilarious. What does it translate to on the door? You think it still may be “hot”? ( although, I doubt the folks of Fukishima have any sense of humor about that)

      • Howard A Member

        oops, sorry, Brad, ( not Brag) ran out of edit time.

    • Shiro

      NO! It reads ANAGURI Fire Department. ANAGURI is in Hyogo Prefecture.
      It is NOT in FUKUSHIMA.

  3. Bobsmyuncle

    Fire apparatus doesn’t command much money as we’ve seen here many times. Yes this is unique but who does it appeal to?

    Personally I see trail truck written all over this.

  4. MountainMan

    It’s cool but it will need a special collector to cough up $12k. Nice 4X4 Toyota trucks of this era have quite the following but nice examples can be had for half of this sellers ask. To the right person I could see $6,000-$8,000 as a possibility but even then I imagine it will sit a while before that individual comes along. It’s different enough that I would hope it gets to stay a fire truck and not get carved up into a “woods buggy” or something similar.

  5. JW

    Interesting rig and those Toyotas are tuff little trucks but I don’t think I could ever get used to right hand drive and I was born left handed but switched to right handed at a early age.

  6. Howard A Member

    Pretty much like all fire trucks, regardless of origin, what do you do with it? They were great trucks, I had a 2 wheel drive Toyota pickup, this vintage that my ex BIL bought brand new, with that motor, and it had 235g’s on it, and still ran like day one. The front axle is more of a “live” axle, and not a solid one, and rides like one too. Again, serious rusters, so a truck like this, in any configuration is pretty rare. Personally, I’d take it apart, but like JW sez, I’d never get past the RHD part, especially shifting. Cool find. Oh, lose the “blue lights” on the front. It’s illegal to have lights that are an “official color” on private vehicles ( at least in Wis.)

  7. William H

    As mentioned in the ad, this would make a great lease truck. Elevated seats behind the cab, game winch already on the back, 4×4, loud speaker for games calls, etc. Now if it had a small water reserve and hose that would put it over the top. Other than paint and removing some of the fire specific items, you probably wouldn’t even need to cut on it. How many hunters would love to have a portable processing station that you could drive pretty much anywhere

  8. Rando

    Some of the fire trucks have very low gearing – it may top out at 35 – 45 mph if so. Just a thought…

  9. brakesevo

    Apparently you’ve never driven a RHD vehicle in this country for if you did you’d know there’s no problem or issue whatsoever – as I tell people who ask, all you have to do is remember stop when it’s red, go when it’s green because RHD is just like LHD except for another seat to the left of you . . . and when someone asks if shifting gears is hard, all I can say is “Can you scratch your nose with your left hand? So why do you think you can’t shift gears with your left hand! I’ll be you’d bet the first to jump at the chance to drive my RHD Cobra, seen here next to Tom Price’s Ferrari GTO at Monterey, California a few years back.

    • JW

      You are correct I have never driven a RHD car as I have never had the opportunity or desire to own one. As far as shifting gears left handed I’m sure I could master it after a few attempts but like driving to work in reverse why would I want to. I live in Missouri which is in America which sells and restricts us to drive on the right side of the road so it would feel uncomfortable to me driving a RHD car in America. No offense intended by my comment.

    • JW

      @brakesevo for some unknown reason your reply to my comment is not showing up here even when I hit the reply to your comment in the email notification so here is my response to your comment if you read my comment to the end it said NO OFFENSE INTENDED which all my comments are never intended to offend anyone. Where you live or your political views is your opinion and I value that and as far as our politics here in America you have a confusing interpretation of which candidates are pushing conformity and I will not get in to a political argument on this site over any of it. Now as I stated before NO OFFENSE INTENDED !!!

      • brakesevo

        Hey, NO OFFENSE TAKEN!! It’s all in good fun – can’t imagine who the chicken $#it was who removed my comment – hoped we’d all get a good laugh from it – and that’s all that was intended! Hey, they’re just old cars and for havin’ fun – when it get’s too damn serious we can’t laugh, it’s time to find something else to waste time and money on!

  10. Curtis

    Driving a RHD car with decent power (like the Cobra) is easy as would be any other RHD car with decent power. However driving this Toyota, or something with similar power and RHD, like say a 948 Sprite or Morris Minor on a 2 lane road is horrible. Trying to see around and pass even an Amish buggy might take miles.

    • brakesevo

      Well, I”ve driven a RHD 1954 Bond MiniCar across metropolitan Portland in rush hour and that presented no problem either. If you haven’t seen one of these 197cc Bonds, well, they’ll make a Bugeye seem like a Lamborghini!! It’s all attitude and planning

      • JW

        No Offense Taken and Happy Easter.

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