Toyota Hilux Doesn’t Need Power to Tackle Rocks

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This classic Toyota Hilux gives us a (slow) lesson in why gearing is so critical to off-road success!

Ask any average Joe what it takes to build the ultimate rock crawler, and most will tell you the same thing. Big tires, fortified suspension, and a little power under the hood, right? But truth be told, you don’t necessarily have to have much power to tackle even the toughest terrain. As any dyed-in-the-wool off-roader knows, slow and steady is the way to go. And gearing is a lot more important than horsepower. Want proof? Just take a gander at this unstoppable Toyota Hilux.

Granted, the owner of this ’81 Hilux ditched the original 22R for a more potent 3RZ. But the newer motor still only produces around 150 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque in stock form. That’s not exactly going to light the world on fire, especially when you’ve got to turn some pretty massive tires. But that’s just fine when you’re using a Marlin Crawler Triple Ultimate Transfer case setup with an insane crawl ratio of 511:1.

Toyota Hilux

That, friends, ensures that there’s more than enough torque at the wheels in first gear to conquer pretty much any obstacle. Albeit very, very slowly. But slow is certainly fast when you’re trying to navigate massive rocks. And in this video, we see the unstoppable Toyota Hilux navigating a portion of the Rubicon Trail near the base of Cadillac Hill. And it doesn’t even break a sweat.

Horsepower and torque figures are undoubtedly sexy, and they grab all the headlines. But when you’re building your Toyota into the ultimate crawler, you might want to consider the right transfer case setup with the right gearing first. Because as you can see, crawling isn’t just some meaningless term. And sometimes, slow really is fast!

Brett Foote has been covering the automotive industry for over five years and is a longtime contributor to Internet Brands’ Auto Group sites, including Chevrolet Forum, Rennlist, and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among other popular sites.

He has been an automotive enthusiast since the day he came into this world and rode home from the hospital in a first-gen Mustang, and he's been wrenching on them nearly as long.

In addition to his expertise writing about cars, trucks, motorcycles, and every other type of automobile, Brett had spent several years running parts for local auto dealerships.

You can follow along with his builds and various automotive shenanigans on Instagram: @bfoote.

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