With the dawn of the winter solstice arriving today, December 21 marks the beginning of season filled with snow, longer nights, and plummeting temperatures. It’s also the start of a long, much-anticipated holiday weekend. Depending on which corner of the globe you’re reading this post from, perhaps the next few days will bring an opportunity for skiing and snowboarding on some alpine slope. I envy and feel almost cowardly using the term “alpine,” because the highest point marked on Wisconsin’s map is Timms Hill. It rises only 425ft above the dairyland with a final vertical elevation of 1,951 ft and you can’t even strap on a pair of skis to go down it. I guess I’ll pour another mug of coffee, shake my head in frustration, and gawk at photos of this ridiculously adorable, two-door 4×4 from Toyota.
If you’re following me on Twitter, you may have caught on that I’m a massive fan of old-school car advertising, posting almost daily various throwback images I’ve stumbled across. The lingo, the graphics, the over-saturated images snapped on a tired 35mm camera; I love it all. There’s an excellent online database, an enthusiast’s goldmine packed to the brim with classic marketing and brochure pictures from literally every single automaker past and present called WheelsAge.org. That’s where I found this Toyota Prado “Ski” in all its glory.
I’ve shoveled the internet trying to find more info about this blizzard-conquering machine but it’s been an unsuccessfully jaunt. Here’s what I do know; the “Ski” was based on the RZ coupe variant (most likely from 1998) of the 90 Series Land Cruiser Prado built between 1996 to 2002 to compete with the popular Pajero from Mitsubishi. Standard goodies included a full-time four-wheel-drive system, and either a gas 3.4-liter V6 or turbo-diesel four-cylinder. While specs are scare, this cute “Ski” mobile rocked a whole costume of dealer-available accessories ordered right out of the catalog like a black bug deflector, tiny fender mirror, icy side graphics, and enough racks to carry a whole black diamond run’s worth of rad, early 1990s skis splashed in bright colors.
Toyota doesn’t do this anymore and they, along with other automakers that have some kind of a vehicle in their lineup branded towards the active lifestyle, really should. It’s a completely unnecessary wish yes, but gosh I’d be stoked to see a new 4Runner or Land Cruiser bearing this same unique theme that plowed into our lives twenty years ago. Wouldn’t you? Maybe over a glass of spiked eggnog on Christmas Eve I’ll draft up a dreamy prototype or two in Photoshop.