Yamaha and Toyota, two great tastes that taste great together!
Yamaha and Toyota have had an interesting relationship over the years. Yamaha has designed and supplied the engines for several Toyota cars over the years, from the Celica and MR2 to the classic 2000GT. In the 1970s, Toyota created a show truck called the Yamahauler specifically to promote its small pickup's motorcycle hauling capabilities.
In 1974, Toyota introduced a long-bed version of its Hilux pickup truck—or, as it was creatively named here, the Toyota Truck. To inaugurate the bigger bed, Toyota created the Yamahauler, which was used extensively in Toyota's advertising and as a promotional vehicle. It offered many additional features not available in the standard truck, such as carpeting in the bed, bucket seats with crazy 70s stripes, Cragar rims, and a custom paint job by Molly Design.
Some magazine articles of the time claim that this show truck had an independent rear suspension and disc brakes from a Jaguar XKE. It also had an AK Miller turbocharger making 7 pounds of boost. While common today, turbos were an extremely unusual feature back in 1974. Only recently have turbos began to appear on regular gasoline-powered pickup trucks, such as Ford's EcoBoost in the F-150.
The Yamahauler itself was not available to the public, but it still had a seven-foot, two-inch-long bed, which is more than adequate for most motorcycles. That, more than anything, was the point Toyota was trying to make to the motorcycle community. Even better, its small truck with a long bed had a lower ride height than American pickups of the time, making it easier to load and unload a bike or two.
Toyota followed up with a second Yamahauler promotion in 1979, this time as a one-off custom that was given away as the first prize in a contest. Previously, in 1972, Hot Rod magazine custom built a Dodge van project that was also called the Yamahauler. The magazine also gave that van away in a contest that was hosted through Yamaha dealerships. (Yamaha must have retained rights to the name so it could use it on the later Toyotas.) But this particular 1974 model was the wackiest of them all and is our favorite Yamahauler.