Truck Thursday – 1984 Toyota Hiace


This 1984 Toyota Hiace stares at me with its cold round eyes all day every day. The garage in which it sits directly faces my office window, so it was inevitable I go shoot it one day. It also seems to be a well-enough preserved example of a trusty hauler, so it easily makes Truck Thursday.

One thing you need to know is that over here no-one ever pronounces “Hi-Ace” the way it’s correctly pronouced in English, “haɪ-eɪs”. It’s always been “Hiase”, like you’d pronounce a Japanese name.


Snugly parked in the garage corner, the milky white Hiace with seat covers looks surprisingly rust-free. As the body style was introduced pretty much 30 years ago, all the rougher ones have by now been either scrapped or shipped to Africa.

Yeah, a large number of Hiaces that have finished their working life in Finland are shipped to Nairobi or Addis Abeba (pictured below) or so, continuing running around with the Finnish Toyota slogan stickers still on the rear window. “You Can Count on Toyota Quality”, “Finland Runs on Toyotas”.


(Photo from Flickr)


But the Finnish-photographed Hiace is still amidst snow, on white Mangels wheels which are always a nice touch. The engine is the two-litre 75hp diesel, and the Toyota has been outfitted as a bus. It would then make sense to sell it on to someone shipping it south when the time comes.


But the Hiace still gets regular use, and I don’t see why it wouldn’t. As long as the salt worm is kept at bay and the thing makes inspection, it’s all good. Run on.

[Images: Copyright 2013 Hooniverse/Antti Kautonen]


  1. Or you could pronounce it "Haisu" (Stinker)… When you need stuff moved in that part of the world, and your little trailer and towing bar aren't going to cut it, you call your cousin or brother-in-law who with the Hiace to come move your stuff in exchange for a vodka bottle or two.

        1. The song is a parody cover version of a song that asks how much stuff you can fit into a small human heart – and asks how much counterfeit goods you can fit into a small Toyota Hiace.

  2. Man, this question, how to pronounce that (stupid) name was big when people started to bring Hiace vans from Finland to where I live.
    Being able to buy rusty Hiace in Finland with meagre earnings was more like winning in lottery, and usually those imported vans were earlier models but still, all the people who suggested pronunciation correctly were actually laughed at, usually.
    Things were much easier with old Bedford vans.

    1. winning the lottery, hmm. perhaps since you were competing with other would-be buyers, a card game metaphor would be more apt. say……drawing…….a high ace?

    1. Yes, but the Hi-Ace outnumbered those by about 1000 to 1 or so.
      One curious factoid about the Hiace: Sometimes in late 1980s, most speeding tickets in Finland were earned driving Hiaces.

  3. I learned to drive in a 1989 Hiace Commuter. It had a 5-speed column-shift manual transmission and a 2.4 diesel engine. I think it weighed close to two tonnes, and I have never driven any road vehicle slower than it since. My driving inspector was a bit surprised when I turned up for my test in it, but I passed.
    <img src="!20070205141122-360×0.jpg"&gt;
    In hindsight, it was the perfect new-driver vehicle:
    – Perched over the front axle, one's legs were the next thing between oneself and the crash, so it gave one a healthy perspective on one's mortality .
    – It was so abysmally slow that there was no chance of getting into any trouble with it, and a headwind could conceivably drop your top speed by 10km/h (I maxed it at an indicated 121 km/h one cold night on a 4km straight).
    – It was so deeply uncool to be seen in, that friends were always the preferred mode of transport.
    – It was too heavy and underpowered to do burn-outs in (although the clutch could be fried).
    – It was a Toyota, so it could handle abuse.
    – The vinyl-and-paint trimmed rear compartment could be used as overnight accommodation at parties, and could be (and was) hosed out afterwards.
    Image from

  4. Ah, the Hiace. Pronounced Hiase, of course. There has been songs written about this model. Well, one song.
    It's been ages since I last saw one of these, let alone one in good nick. But the grandson (1996-2012) is absolutely everywhere here in Finland. You didn't need to look further if you wanted a dependable no-frills worhorse for your company, farm or plumber business. Too bad it really ever only sold in Finland and Norway, two small markets that weren't enough to convince Toyota to re-engineer or replace it to meet upcoming regulations.
    The successor will be a badge-engineered SEVEL van called Toyota ProAce. It has been on sale for some years already under the badges Peugeot Expert, Fiat Scudo and Citroen Jumper. Somehow I don't see old Hiace owners lining up to buy one.

  5. Hiaces of that generation are still a common sight down here in Sri Lanka, still used for everything from transporting school kids to being insanely overloaded by various tradesmen. They are considered to be better for hard work than the two generations that followed, as well as being much cheaper and simpler to fix.
    In fact, my company still has an 88 model which we bought used from Japan in 1992, 600,000 odd KM later it's still rolling (It WAS given a full body restoration recently as well as a couple of engine rebuilds over the years, labor is quite cheap here!) I'll try and find a pic or two.
    A small correction: The diesel engine on these was usually the 2.4 Liter four cylinder that carried the Toyota designation "2L", it was not actually a 2 Liter.

      1. Indeed, the L series of Toyota Diesels continued to be mighty confusing; the "3L" was a 2.8 Liter and the final "5L" was a 3.0 Liter.

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