Principles of Overlanding :: The Toyota Pickup
Show Notes for Podcast #91
Principles of Overlanding :: The Toyota Pickup
Scott Brady and Richard Giordano discuss the Toyota Pickup and Hilux for overland travel, including preparing the 1979 to 1995 pickup for international travel. Additional discussion includes the newer Hilux, including Arctic Truck modifications for polar conditions.
Richard Giordano completed a 48,800-kilometer overland journey from Vancouver, Canada to Ushuaia, Argentina with his wife Ashley in their well-loved but antiquated 1990 Toyota Pickup. On the zig-zag route south they hiked craggy peaks in the Andes, discovered diverse cultures in 15 different countries, and filled their tummies with spicy ceviche, Baja fish tacos and Argentinian Malbec. That trip catapulted Richard into a career as a freelance video producer, photographer, and writer. He has created commercials for Toyota Canada, was the lead photographer for Expedition Overland, and is always itching to hit the road and share his own adventures. If you see Richard out in the wild, he’ll most likely have a coffee in one hand and a camera in the other. @desktoglory
Scott is the publisher and co-founder of Expedition Portal and Overland Journal and is often credited with popularizing overlanding in North America. His travels by 4WD and adventure motorcycle span all seven continents and includes three circumnavigations of the globe. His polar expeditions include two vehicle crossings of Antarctica and the first long-axis crossing of Greenland. @scott.a.brady
Watch the video on the Little Red pickup build
Follow Richard on his website here: DESK TO GLORY
All images ©Richard Giordano
Toyota pickup for overlanding
Scott Brady:[00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the Overland Journal podcast. I'm your host, Scott Brady and my co-host for today is Richard Giordano. We're going to talk about the Toyota pickup and Hilux. So this conversation will not include the Tacoma or at least it'll just be some references. We will do the Tacoma in a future podcast, we're excited to do that. For today we're going to really focus on, uh, pickups that were imported to the United States in the seventies, eighties and nineties, before the Tacoma started and then they were also available in Canada as well. And then we're going to continue on into some discussion around the Hilux, because it is a really important model for us to reference and is available for people to rent or to purchase in other countries. And of course we have listeners from over a hundred countries that participate in the podcast as well. So we want to make sure that we're [00:01:00] talking about models that are relevant to them as well.
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Well, I think Richard, let's start off with your rich history with Toyota pickups.
Richard Giordano: All right. Well, thank you for having me. Definitely not an expert on Toyota pickups, but I've spent plenty of time behind a wheel of a few of them.
Scott Brady: Years, you have spent in that seat. Now we actually, we actually have Richard's pickup behind us, which there is a great video on the Expedition Portal YouTube channel, where Richard goes through all the things that he's done to this vehicle. And it's kind of in its final form, which we're going to talk through the modifications as well, because I think that's really important. Yeah. Years you have spent in that seat.
Richard Giordano: Yeah. So in this specific truck, it's a 1990 Toyota pickup with a 22re and a five-speed. [00:03:00] Back in 2013, uh, Ashley and I put together basic plan to get the truck roadworthy and drive it to South America. So within four weekends, we put an Old Man EMU suspension system in it, but a new long block, new clutch flywheel, and kind of just cleaned up the interior a little bit, put a rooftop tent on it and left.
Scott Brady: And if I remember didn't you get it? Wasn't it like in a family member's backyard or something like that?
Richard Giordano: So it was, it was a work truck that my sister had been driving and she thought it was absolute trash. It was owned by my mom and her husband for the plumbing business and just abused constantly. I don't really, I don't think any maintenance had been done the entire time they had it. So once I found out it in the backyard, it had 320,000 kilometers on it. I thought it was the perfect foundation for, uh, for an overland vehicle, so.
Scott Brady: Well, it turns out that it was.
Richard Giordano: So far so good.
Scott Brady: And this is true without the, throughout the discussion around Toyota pickups. But one of the realities is, is that it is one of the best vehicles to take overlanding because the fuel economy is always excellent. They always have a great payload and they [00:04:00] can be very affordable in the grand scheme of things. Like if you were to compare 79 Land Cruiser pickup against a Hilux, you know, it's a 30 to 40% premium, depending upon the model configuration, the fact that you had this vehicle available from your family, I just think that that's such a wonderful story. It was about you guys wanted to go see the world, it just so happened that your mom had a Toyota pickup in the backyard. And I bet you, if it was a Nissan, you probably would have taken that.
Richard Giordano: It was available.
Scott Brady: You really wouldn't have cared what it was.
Richard Giordano: I had a lot of confidence in, in the truck. I actually owned a early 2000 Chevy Silverado at the time that was just a daily driver. I had memories of my first Toyota, which was an 88, 4Runner that never let me down. It was a three liter automatic that I put 35s on it and like welded diff in the back and just went everywhere in Western Canada. So I had memories of that truck just never being maintained and never letting me down. When I saw this another red Toyota from the nineties in the backyard, I was like, that's it, that's perfect.
Scott Brady: What other Toyota trucks have you have you had? [00:05:00]
Richard Giordano: I had a 84 Toyota pickup, a little flatbed on it. 22r, five speed. Uh, 88, 4Runner three liter, automatic. While this 1990 pickup was in Costa Rica for a year while we went home and worked, I bought a 93 pickup for the three liter, five speed. So we've had a few of them.
Scott Brady: It's a similar story arc for me. The very first Toyota I ever bought was a 1984 Toyota pickup. I bought it in Idaho when I was in the military and it was flawless. It now it didn't have the 22re was a 22r, five speed, no air conditioning, which is why it stayed in Idaho after I left the military, but it was, it was just a perfect little truck. I did just enough lift on it. And I don't even remember how I did that. It was probably whatever the cheapest way you could give a, probably some spacers in the rear axle and some loggers shackles in the front. I don't remember. You know, they had a shackle reversal from the factory, which made them a lot easier to do that with, but it was just enough lift to fit a 33 on there, open DIFs, and I did, I drove it all over [00:06:00] idaho with no issues. And it was just such a, a capable small truck and, you know, fit 33s on it and you're off to the races. And then I had a, an 89, so a little bit newer than the 4Runner that you had. So I had, uh, an 89, 4Runner with a three liter and a five speed, which was a really nice combo. It was actually a really, it was a wonderful truck to drive and we sold it still fairly new. So I never ran into any of the kind of long-term reliability issues around the three liter, which we're going to talk about a little bit later. And then lots of time and Higlux, which is why I want to talk about it today. I've spent months living out of Hilux and freezing conditions, and then also just driving them all over the world, South Africa and Iceland, and in Europe and South America. So I've spent a lot of time driving high Lux, and I just, I have a real soft spot in my heart for them, for sure. Now that the 25 year rule is coming into play it's 15 years for Canada, but for those of us in the United States, this 25 years, there's actually kind of the high watermark [00:07:00] of the Hilux is right in that range right now, where you could get a 3LTE solid front axel, diesel little turbo diesel right-hand drive Hilux in a four-door configuration or an irregular cab long bed configuration. And these are very special trucks. And they're now available in that timeframe, you know, uh, mid nineties. Um, and that was the last of the solid axle Toyota trucks. I think they went up until the late nineties with solid axles, as I recall, they're available now, which is kind of exciting.
Richard Giordano: They're very cool. Every time I see one of those in Canada, cause we've got, we've had them there for years because our importation law is fifteen years, every time I see one, like, I need that. Yeah. I, I, my, my pocketbook and bank account, don't say the same thing, but..
Scott Brady: I should figure that out.
Richard Giordano: Yeah.
Scott Brady: Where you buy it at 15 years and then..
Richard Giordano: I'll hold onto that for 10.
Scott Brady: And then I'll buy it from you 10 years later or something. Wouldn't that be perfect? So when we look at the Toyota pickups for North America, a lot of us remember those late seventies and early [00:08:00] eighties trucks. These were solid axles at 20rs, 22rs in the later years, uh, they were all carborated and they were available in a couple of different configurations. There was even some aftermarket coach builders that would turn them into a, like a pseudo 4Runner. I don't remember the name of it right now, but I actually had a friend of mine that, that had.
Richard Giordano: Trekkers.
Scott Brady: That's right. They were super cool. In general, we don't see those used a lot for travel. Now, the one exception to that is Chris Collard. So Chris Collard has an early eighties Toyota pickup that he is put through many different configurations and is probably seen more dirt in Baja than most toyota pickups I can think of. So there are examples of those being used out there, for sure. It's definitely with that kind of 1984 to 1995 would have been the last year or the Toyota pickup in the United States and probably for Canada. Was it the same for Canada? And then you guys got the Tacoma after that. I think that the high water mark and I'd be curious to know your thoughts, but I think that the high water mark really was that kind of [00:09:00] 93, 94, 95 truck for me, I would want a regular cab, long bed, if you could find it, which they were pretty rare, with the 22re, five speed, that would be kind of magic.
Richard Giordano: Okay. It kind of depends what you're doing with it because the unicorns for the longest time where the 85, solid axle, EFI had all the good things, to be honest, I've been really, really happy with all the EFI trucks I've had, whether it's been old man EMU or the truck behind us as a Total Chaos long travel.
Scott Brady: Sure.
Richard Giordano: They just drive so, they drive like a modern car, a modern truck AR slow. But other than that on road manners are really, really good.
Scott Brady: Yeah. And I think for me, if I was building a trail truck, I would probably want the solid axle, but there are limitations to that too. So that eight inch front diff was only so durable with large diameter tires and that ended up kind of being the challenge with it is that probably better off buying a newer Tacoma and then doing a solid axle swap on it with something that can really take the size of a 37 38, 40 inch tall tire for rock crawling.
Richard Giordano: Yeah. And with that small [00:10:00] dif I know with when you gear it properly, do a five to nine, you can get into problems with the pinion being too small and weak. And, I know I've, I've had 35s on a 93 pickup and ran lockers front and rear with that small pinion on the five to nine, and it's been, it's held up, but I'm also really careful with them just knowing it can't take the abuse.
Scott Brady: It's totally the driver. I've never broken a diff because I just tend to employ a lot of mechanical sympathy when I drive. Usually because I'm somewhere super remote and there's consequences to busting a front diff if for sure, if you're someplace really remote. And also understanding are these reverse cut gears, um, which can make them extremely weak when you're trying to do an extraction of another vehicle in reverse. So just making sure that, you know, kind of the limits of that front end, which is a fairly weak front end when you compare it to a solid axle. If I was to look at the Hilux, I would definitely be looking at the last of the years, the solid axle. Cause they kinda got the best of both. You got the same body style as your truck and a lot more modern conveniences in them. Just better HVAC, better overall [00:11:00] ride, you know, noise management, quality of the materials. They started to do a lot better with managing rust in those vehicles as well, which was a big shift. That's why you don't see a lot of those 79 to 83 pickups around anymore because they just rusted out on you.
Richard Giordano: And then I was going to talk about that a little bit on the, on the budget side of things, which you started off with. Even five years ago, these trucks were pretty inexpensive to buy. And when we got ours, we were able to get it from our family for, for nothing, but it was a thousand dollar truck when we got it. The equivalent truck nowadays, 7, 8, 9. And I I've seen a truck uh, there was an 87 Toyota pickup that came into the gear shop the other day up in Calgary, Alberta, the place I work when I'm not down here or traveling. It was a clean driver, but you know, it needed brakes, some ball joints, and tire rod ends and all these things. 22re, five speed, a little bit of rust and 25 grand. Prices are going up. For sure.
Scott Brady: You just can't get those vehicles anymore. And there are limitations with the newer vehicles as well. I mean, a new Tacoma of course is an exceptional truck, but what I noticed and I'd be curious of your thoughts of this is [00:12:00] that when the Toyota pickup changed to the Tacoma and changed from a vehicle that was purchased to haul things to a vehicle that was purchased to haul people.
Richard Giordano: Yeah, for sure.
Scott Brady: And that is true for most pickups in North America. They are used as daily drivers for a great reason. I mean, I drive a full sized truck every day and it's a wonderful vehicle to drive around, even with family in it and everything else. It's just very comfortable. It's very a lot of utility, but that's what changed because if you look at some of the payload numbers, if you were to look at a long bed, 1984 Toyota pickup in the United States, it was available in a one ton variant. And that wasn't just a, an Imperial ton. That was a metric ton. So it had a 2,200 pound payload. Do you know the payload on your truck?
Richard Giordano: Just over 1700 pounds. So this little pickup that makes a hundred horsepower, a little eight inch dif with little tiny breaks, it, uh, yeah, the payload 1,740 pounds I think for this one. Our Tundra is just under 16 to give you an example.
Scott Brady: And your tundra is a full-size truck. It's it's not the previous generation Tundra. It's the [00:13:00] newer full size.
Richard Giordano: Disc brakes all around 10 and a half inch ring gear.
Scott Brady: Sure.
Richard Giordano: Yeah, it makes 400 horsepower. Tons of torque. It can, the difference from the Tundra is it can tow 10,000 pounds where this thing can tow 3500.
Scott Brady: Right.
Richard Giordano: Yeah. It's kinda mind blowing what the payload of these little Toyota pickups is.
Scott Brady: And that's because they kept them so simple. If you look at the difference in weight between a 22re and a 5.7..
Richard Giordano: Yeah. Th this truck, I think a curb weight when it was stock is 3,300 pounds.
Scott Brady: There you go.
Richard Giordano: So, as an example, I've got a 67 Mustang with a V8 and automatic, and that is 2,900 pounds. So you're looking at a two wheel drive car that's very basic for what it is, that's almost 3000 pounds and you've got a four wheel drive truck that's slightly more than that.
Scott Brady: Yeah, no, that is certainly a great example. And that's what we saw and that's why I think there's still the argument in north America for looking for Toyota pickups is that they had a proper payload so that you could actually like you've done I mean, let's walk through your build right now that you've gone through, on this truck.
Richard Giordano: Yeah. I'm going to start off with, and I think this build works so, so [00:14:00] well in Mexico, Latin America, like throughout my Latin America, where you don't have 80 mile per hour freeways, you know, it probably wouldn't work so well in Saudi Arabia where the speed limits 140 kilometers an hour. And you're trying to keep up. But in, I find in North America, it's hard to keep up with modern traffic because it just doesn't have the power and it's heavy. The brakes aren't as big and all the rest of it. But, for long-term international travel, it just hits this, this like nice little sweet spot has enough power, moves around just fine, and just is, yeah it's perfect. Off-road for what we want to do.
Scott Brady: Yeah. Most developing countries you're dealing with 80 kilometer, an hour speed limits, maybe a hundred kilometer, an hour speed limit.
Richard Giordano: Yeah, exactly. So we just have to choose little slower, like highways and byways. And if we can take a dirt road instead, I can go almost as fast on a flat dirt road as I can on a freeway. So it's a much better suited to those. It's a 1992 way to pickup and I had the 22re rebuilt by a friend, Ryan up in Abbotsford, BC, Disturbed Industries. He's I think he said this is 300th 22re that he's built. So we use a lot of LC Engineering Performance products, just to [00:15:00] try to get a little bit more power out of the truck. I didn't really ever consider an engine swap because trying to just try to keep the drive train as stock as possible, solely for ease of maintenance, ease of getting parts and any repairs outside of the country. Just tried to make it reliable, fresh, make sure it didn't burn any oil. It works out great. We added a heavier flywheel to help get the truck moving a little bit better, which made it, it made a bigger difference than any of the performance parts we added.
Scott Brady: Interesting.
Richard Giordano: Yeah. So..
Scott Brady: And did you change the clutch out at the same time?
Richard Giordano: So we did a Hasting clutch and the LCE, I think it's a 30 pound flywheel. So that made a big difference in getting a truck moving. Like now it feels like a stock truck instead of a 5,200 pound truck.
Scott Brady: And you probably really notice it off-road in low range as well it's less, probably less likely to stall.
Richard Giordano: Yep. So it works really well, especially in those situations uphill, trying to get the truck moving low range. Um, also just climbing steep grades. It just holds a speed just a little bit easier to, than it did before. So that's a nice touch, but yeah, again, we just worked really hard on making the truck reliable. So we put a toyota [00:16:00] radiator in, made sure that we had rebuilt the starter and alternator, all the things that we could recently that while the engine's out, it's easy enough to replace it. It's usually cheaper to replace it than it failing in the middle of nowhere and have sure getting a truck towed back or having to fix it. Focused on reliability. I spent all of our budget time and energy and real money budget on the suspension. Did a Total Chaos Long Travel suspension system only because I saw an article on this that Fred Williams did in Four Wheeler, I think it was Four Wheeler or Petersen's 4-Wheel and Off-Road 15 years ago.
Scott Brady: Sure.
Richard Giordano: And I thought that's super cool. He put it in his truck Clampy, jumped it in Glamis, I think is where it was. And I was like, I need that. Um, so 15 plus years later, uh, I thought I got an opportunity to try it out. So we did and threw Icon shocks all the way around and that has made a world of difference in terms of whether we decide that we want to do a little bit of recreational off-roading or take a dirt road instead of a paved road.
Scott Brady: Sure.
Richard Giordano: We almost always choose the dirt road now, it's pretty fun. And then try to keep the wheel and tire diameter, weight as low as possible. So we did a 285 75 16 Toyo [00:17:00] AT3, which I've been really happy with.
Scott Brady: It looks like on a steel wheel.
Richard Giordano: It looks like it, but it's a Fifteen 52.
Scott Brady: Oh nice, oh those look great. How much positive offset are they fairly?
Richard Giordano: Oh they're zero offset. Yeah, but with a long travel in the front, it's a three and a half inch long travel. So it's track width is seven inches wider overall, we just have an, uh, some fiberglass fenders that more or less covered the cover, the tread up front. Um, and then in the back, we just had a wheel spacers instead of putting a different axle in I've had decent luck with the G2 wheel spacers that we've been using.
Scott Brady: Yeah, if you use a high quality, so are they two and a quarter two and a half?
Richard Giordano: They're only inch and a half. So the track in the rear is narrower and kind of similar to the newer true east, I believe.
Scott Brady: Yeah. Which is, which is exciting at times. On sandy tracks or muddy tracks.
Richard Giordano: For the amount of time we spend in those situations. It's not too bad. And then it just did, I went back to an old trick I did years ago and put at 63 in Chevy's in Chevy Springs in the rear. So they're nice and long and flat, they've got the capacity to haul. But it's an additional, almost 2000 pounds in this truck I think [00:18:00] when it's fully topped up, haven't had a problem. So it's been a nice little, nice little combination of all these little parts and, um, ideas that I've had over the last decade or two and kind of throw them all together and it seems to, it seems to work.
Scott Brady: Well, and you guys travel a lot solo, so it looks like you've made some considerations around self recovery and animal strike protection. So you've got an ARB bull bar up front. What made you decide on that?
Richard Giordano: When we went to South America, we just had the stock bumper on the truck, no winch, stamped, steel, flimsy bumper that weighed 12 pounds. And I felt once we got back to North America and we spent a lot of time in the Rockies afterwards, lots of elk, uh, lots of cattle on the back roads. I kind of felt we had used up all of our time. I kind of felt like we didn't have an issue for two years, but it could happen at any point from now on, you know, so adding an ARB bumper, the front had a Warn, uh, M8000 winch up front was a big key just to like, or peace of mind.
Scott Brady: Yeah. The M8000 is one that people tend to overlook because of all these really fancy modern, modern [00:19:00] winches. But I actually think that it's one of the best winches that you can buy for a vehicle like that. They're reasonably priced. They're still made in the United States and with synthetic line and an aluminum Hawse fairlead you're at nearly 50 pounds.
Richard Giordano: Yeah.
Scott Brady: So the weight is much lower.
Richard Giordano: It is, And when we didn't have a winch, there'd be plenty of times when we get into a situation and I thought, oh, you know what, if we did have a winch, maybe we could just attach to this tree and we wouldn't have to worry so much about sliding down this cliff on the other side.
Scott Brady: Sure.
Richard Giordano: Whether it was snow or ice or whatever. So there've been a couple of times in the, in the past, when we were just going out to a trail head, we're going out to hike, we're not meant to go do anything crazy in the Rockies again, when you're going up a path and you don't know if there's ice underneath.
Scott Brady: Totally.
Richard Giordano: You're cruising up or it was at one time in particular we're cruising up and I think there was a waterfall on left side left-hand side, coming down from the cliff and a cliff, like straight down on the right. And we didn't know we're cruising along, just hit the, I just hit ice under a couple of inches of snow and the truck just slides off a little bit to the right and eventually stops on some, some solid ground. And [00:20:00] I'm like, Ashley, could you please lock the front hubs please? And, uh, luckily we had some traction in the front. It was just in the rear that was lost. Even in situations like that, you know, what, what it would have been really nice, being able to take a winch, attach to the tree, tree saver strap, and just be secure because we were quite far out and nobody was around.
Scott Brady: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I'm questioning if you're even an overlander cause I don't see a snorkel on your truck.
Richard Giordano: I know. Yeah. Two reasons. Um, never felt like I needed it and also it doesn't fit on the fiberglass fenders.
Scott Brady: Yeah. Those fiberglass fenders, or they look so stock that I didn't even realize it until you said it. Cause they're not overly wide. Who makes those?
Richard Giordano: They're from Toyota Fiberglass in Penticton, British Columbia, this a guy named Corey up there who makes them.
Scott Brady: They look really good.
Richard Giordano: I really like 'em. They were great because the ones that were originally on the truck were completely rusted.
Scott Brady: Oh, sure.
Richard Giordano: Yeah. And at the time these were, the lead time was pretty short so, for four hundred bucks rear fenders, and sprayed them with a can of spray paint and yeah.
Scott Brady: Pretty close match. Like you can hardly tell.
Richard Giordano: Oh [00:21:00] exactly. Everything's faded now. Faded, scratched.
Scott Brady: Now it doesn't look like there's a lot of rust on there, like in the bed and that, like, how was that even possible?
Richard Giordano: Um, I don't know. I think it's magic. Just the frame has been undercoded at some point and sometimes that's good, sometimes bad, but in our case, um, I haven't really found any frame rust, pretty incredible. And on the body it's starting, the rest is starting.
Scott Brady: You've been in Arizona more.
Richard Giordano: Exactly. Every time it lives in Alberta for a little while it gets worse. So cab corners are starting to get rusty and just under the windshield right now, there are two spots that I only noticed because there was some water dripping into the cabin. After hunting it down I found some work I have to do.
Scott Brady: Well, if you can stay on top of it. And then I like the configuration with the extra cab. What do you guys use for that space behind the seats?
Richard Giordano: Yeah, so we have, uh, one of the seats it's open for either hauling people or our thought is at some point when this thing will eventually end up overseas, I'm sure again, we have a space for a guide if we ever need.
Scott Brady: Yeah. Sometimes you need to have a minder or a guide. Sometimes they call it a guide and [00:22:00] it's actually a minder..
Richard Giordano: Yes. Whatever it is.
Scott Brady: Turkmenistan comes to mind. Yeah.
Richard Giordano: Perfect. So, so left that open for him or her, and then, uh, we have a Alubox behind my seat that I just use as a lockbox to put our valuables while we have computer and cameras. Yep.
Scott Brady: Got it. And that's where you keep your camera gear and everything?
Richard Giordano: So it makes it a little bit more difficult for people to grab things. We had lockbox when we were in South America, we had a lock box that went in the entire width of the backseat and the truck was broken into twice throughout our time there. Both times punch the door locks, get inside rifle around, they grab whatever's loose, but the lockbox add a blanket. Well, we always had like a Mexican blanket over top of the lock box, so they would open it up, see that they couldn't get in, and take off.
Scott Brady: They only had so much time.
Richard Giordano: Exactly. It's just there to stop, you know, those little, little break and enters.
Scott Brady: Yeah. We had that in Nicaragua. Door, punched the door lock through, open the door and stole a couple of things out of the front of his Ford pickup. It's pretty quick smash and grab kind of stuff is what we tend to find.
Richard Giordano: Exactly. And the two times it had, well, first time it happened and we knew it was our problem and our fault cause we left some stuff [00:23:00] out that was easy to easily seen from the road. Yeah. The sec after the second time happened, tint the windows, add another lock box, really make sure that the interior spotless every time we leave it.
Scott Brady: Right.
Richard Giordano: No matter if it's 10 minutes, five minutes.
Scott Brady: Sure. No, you got to do that. Now above the cab, it looks like you installed a rail to support some crossbars. What did you do up there?
Richard Giordano: Behind that we did a, we've got a GFC um, version one camper that we like to utilize as like a decent amount of inside living space and by well it's to keep all the inside space free or as much as possible, we wanted to at a box out front with a little roof rack.
Scott Brady: Oh, that's smart. Are those Eezi-Awn crossbars?
Richard Giordano: Yeah, so we went, uh, to Equipped Expedition Outfitters and Paul May, he didn't drill the holes in the roof, but he watches, I did it.
Scott Brady: I can't say that I blame him. Hand you the drill, this my man it's it's..
Richard Giordano: Here are the rails, here's a drill, drill them here. So I drill a series of holes on either side and rev netted the rails in sure. It's got some Eezi-Awn crossbars and then a Pelican, [00:24:00] I think it's a 1745 case across the roof, which is waterproof, and it just has all of our hiking and trekking gear in it. Oh, So it's not it.
Scott Brady: So it's stuff that you need for the trip, but you don't access everyday.
Richard Giordano: Yeah, exactly. And it's all pretty lightweight. So I was okay with putting it up front. I'm not worried about..
Scott Brady: Yeah. The Go Fast Camper looks great on there. It looks like you've got an ARB awning on one side, so MaxTrax on the front and then is that solar panels up there?
Richard Giordano: Yeah, so we have a couple of a hundred watt solar panels using Go Fast Camper's solar panel trays. So they're just held on with some 3m adhesive.
Scott Brady: Oh, interesting.
Richard Giordano: And just the way they're designed, they kind of it's attached with a 3m, but also it's angled in so it holds in the solar panel when it's, once it's bolted in. I try to keep it pretty, I don't know, it looks like to me, it seems like there's tons of stuff bolted on the truck, but trying to keep it clean and out of, out of sight most of the time.
Scott Brady: No, it looks like it would just be really useful to live out of. And then how do you have the inside of the Go Fast Camper set up to allow you to do work and kind of have some inside sleeping space?
Richard Giordano: So we used a bunch of good, I think it was [00:25:00] two Goose Gear drawer modules and then connected with the infill panel. So it's like a little L-shaped bench on one side, and then I built a cabinet on the left-hand side. That's a kitchen has a nice little, little countertop, little Dometic sink using a Shurflo pump and a Sceptre 20 gallon water tank. So it's got lots of stuff in there that makes it feel like home, but also it's all pretty, pretty simple. And then a Dometic CFX, 335 fridge, not too big, not too small. We can have fresh food for three or four or five days before we have to start diving into any of the dry goods.
Scott Brady: Well, the truck looks great. You even got some rocker panel protection. And what do you have for in the diffs? What do you got for lockers?
Richard Giordano: Yeah, so we have some G2 Axle 48s in front rear, front is open, and in the rear I used the Nitro Torsen limited slip.
Scott Brady: Okay.
Richard Giordano: So kind of set it, forget it. It has made a world of difference up north. I never worried about it when we went to South America and there was open diffs, but when we got back home and we were spending a lot of time in the snow, it was a mess. Just like no traction whatsoever. Adding that rear traction made all the difference, [00:26:00] even just getting around town.
Scott Brady: Yeah. I remember one time I was, I was on the air force base in that 84 pickup and I come up to a stop sign and I let out the clutch and the car's not going anywhere, and I grew up in Southern California so please forgive me a little bit, but like, and I'm like revving the engine and the car's not going anywhere and I'm like, oh, it's like something broke in the clutch. So I just, like, I just left it idling, but I forgot that I left it in gear and I get out, I hop out of the truck and, and one of the front tires, and one of the rear tires is just sitting there spinning. I had kind of put one of the front tires right on a manhole cover, just tall enough where it wasn't going anywhere and it made me realize like, oh, I actually really only have a two-wheel drive truck at this point. Now is it gear-driven limited slippers?
Richard Giordano: Yep.
Scott Brady: Oh, that's nice.
Richard Giordano: I've had a super limited slip in a, in a truck before. So that's a clutch type, but yeah, this is gear-driven and it's silent and it always works.
Scott Brady: Yeah.
Richard Giordano: Even if the tire comes off, the ground is still, it's still traction. So I've been really happy with it, mostly.
Scott Brady: Do you ever put a little preload into the parking brake to help give it a little bit more effectiveness in certain terrain?
Richard Giordano: I definitely [00:27:00] did that in the past, but I haven't had to do that so far with..
Scott Brady: Cause you got so much tire and travel and everything.
Richard Giordano: Yeah. There's tons and tons of down travel right now with those rear springs so there's always a tire on the PA almost always a tire on the ground.
Scott Brady: Perfect. Well, it looks great. And when it comes to talking about the Toyota pickup, think this is a great example of what's possible with these trucks where let's say even today, you could find a vehicle like that for eight to $12,000 and a whole build without the long travel. But if you did Old Man EMU and you did a Go Fast Camper and everything else, you could be under 25,000 bucks all in on a vehicle that's been well-proven to travel around the world. The other upside to that is this particular platform was sold almost everywhere in the world. So to find even an A arm, a steering knuckle, or a clutch..
Richard Giordano: In Columbia, I'll blame Panama traffic at 45 degrees Celsius and stop and go with a heavy truck that wasn't re-geared at the time for destroying the clutch in the truck at one [00:28:00] point. So we had it replaced in Barranquilla, Columbia at Iguana 4x4. But we rolled up, and we rolled up okay, here's the thing. Clutch is going out also clutch master needs to be rebuilt and wheel bearings need to be done. Is it possible that you guys could do this sometime in the next few weeks? Pulled the truck apart grab the clutch, grab the clutch friction disc, run to Toyota, there was one on the shelf. I grabbed like rebuild kit for the clutch master and they grabbed wheel bearings and it's all done within a day. Everything's on the shelf, no worries. When we were in Lima, we did tierod ends. I usually have to grab idler arms, every, I dunno, 30, 40,000 kilometers on this truck. It seems to eat through them pretty quickly. So finding our lower arms was no problem everywhere I went. Yeah, it was, I think that was by far, the biggest benefit is every mechanic we went to or anybody who helped in any way, like to help us keep moving through Latin America had seen these trucks, they'd worked on these trucks, parts are always available for these trucks. So it was a..
Scott Brady: It was no surprise to anyone including you. I mean, you go into a mechanic, sees that vehicle pull in, [00:29:00] or even at the Toyota dealership, it's not going to be like you just rolled in in some you know, Tacoma where there are some components of the front suspension of the Tacoma that were shared with the Hilux, but very few. The engine is I think that engine is only available in a couple of countries outside of North Korea. Like Saudi Arabia probably I think still gets the 3.4 and the 4.0.
Richard Giordano: Yeah, they still put 2.7s at 3rz they still put in new trucks in a tuner.
Scott Brady: That was actually the 2.7 to the Tacoma's credit was actually a fairly common motor around the world. The 2.7 was for sure, but the 3.4 wasn't it just wasn't that common of a engine.
Richard Giordano: That's it, it was available in some, I remember seeing them in Prados, um, in Latin America. I'm not too sure about other places.
Scott Brady: Not super common. It's especially when compared to the 22re, which was available everywhere. And that transmission is the same as most of the other Toyota trucks as well. So you just have the opportunity for serviceability if you need it. And that's another thing about this version of the truck is that when I think about the three liter, I'm [00:30:00] less inclined to think that that's a good idea for two reasons. First of all, it wasn't very ubiquitous or around the world. So the three liter v6 was just really not that available in other countries, it was available in some but most it wasn't. The premium engine would have been the diesel, but 22res available. And the other side is of it is that the three liters, not particularly reliable, they have head gasket issues and other problems that creep up with some mileage on those trucks. And it certainly, there are people that have gone 300,000 miles in a three liter without any trouble. As far as Toyota engines go it was the least reliable of the ones that we got here in North America.
Richard Giordano: Yeah. One thing that's really, really nice about that four cylinder, 22re or in the newer ones with a 2.73 3rz, is that when there's so much room in an engine bay, you can service it very easily. So whether you're doing alternator or just like a valve adjustment, whatever it is, there's plenty of room to do it yourself in a campground.
Scott Brady: Yeah. Or add a second battery and add an air compressor. All those things are really easy to put into the engine bay of a [00:31:00] 22re.
Richard Giordano: Yeah. And even when adding the winch bumper and the winch to this thing, um, I still had to go to a 500 pound per inch spring because the 600 pounds that originally came with the shocks was just too stiff.
Scott Brady: Interesting.
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Oh, that's [00:32:00] amazing. Well, when we get to the year 1995 now, was this the same for Canada? This was the end of the Toyota pickup. All right. So that was the end of the Toyota pickup, a Tacoma comes onto the scene, which we're not going to talk about much today. So we kind of need to shift our thinking towards the Hilux. And there's a reason why this kind of 1995, 1996 year is also very relevant to this conversation. In Canada, at 15 years old, you can import vehicles from Japan and other countries. The Hilux was sold throughout Europe. It was also sold extensively in Japan. The real upside of buying a JDM vehicle is that owners tend to take really good care of them. They have a bunch of regulations that require them to be well cared for if they're still on the road. And they also tend to have very low mileage and they just really don't tend to be abused very much. They have a lot of upside without the downside is that you have a right-hand drive. I've owned a bunch of right-hand drive vehicle. They were just really not that fast and it just really doesn't matter. And it's kind of a..
Richard Giordano: We had a 93 Delica, [00:33:00] so it's putting along the right side, accidentally hitting the winter wipers when you went..
Scott Brady: Yeah, that's a guarantee for sure, but it's really not that big of a deal to drive a right-hand drive. And we talked about this a little bit in the South America conversation, but there are countries where you can't bring on a right-hand drive into it, like El Salvador is one, maybe Nicaragua's a problem now. So there's, there are countries where you can't either ship the right-hand drive into it, or it's very difficult to move it through those various countries. So that's, it's important to note that there are problems with the right hand drives in left-hand drive countries. If you come to the border, you try to import it through a port, just be aware of that. But as far as daily driving a right-hand drive, it's never really bothered me. I kind of like it. You know, you talk about the bank teller line or the fast food restaurant. Fortunately, I don't use, I don't go to fast food that often, but I have definitely backed through a fast food line. This is the part that I loved about it the most is that the person at the, at the window didn't even notice the fact that, I mean, my body was where it was supposed to be, but they didn't [00:34:00] notice the fact that I was facing the other direction. It's just like, it just shows how wrote their processes throughout the day. They just like hand me up the bag of food.
Richard Giordano: They have one thing to worry about.
Scott Brady: Yeah, exactly. So, for Canada, you're able to get a right now it'd be like a 2007 Hilux into the country, uh, which would be an amazing vehicle. You're into D4D territory by then.
Richard Giordano: Yeah, Ash and I spent a lot of time in, in a couple of those trucks and Costa Rica a couple of years ago, when Ash was was running Women Overlanding the World tours down there. It was more like Women Overlanding the World with Richard taking photos for everyone. Um, so it was another girl's trip plus Richard. But we were in, or they always had four or five Hilux that they would rent. So we spent tons and tons of time in those, whether it was..
Scott Brady: What'd you think?
Richard Giordano: I loved it to the point where I definitely looked into importing one, mostly from Panama. The process is pretty easy. Um, left-hand drive truck, double cab.
Scott Brady: You'd have to drive it back.
Richard Giordano: Exactly. The price point for like a 2005, six is about [00:35:00] half the price of what an equivalent Tacoma is right now. So you can have a Hilux D4D diesel and..
Scott Brady: Probably going to have air conditioning.
Richard Giordano: Probably can have air conditioning, um, something I'm not used to with the, with the 90 pickup. I don't know, definitely thought about it.
Scott Brady: And I think that for those of us in North America this is a very strong argument to get a D4D Hilux manual transmission is easy to find. They're typically going to be manual. There will be some service vehicles that won't be, but for the most part, you're going to be able to find manual transmission D4D Hilux. It's going to make for an incredible around the world vehicle. For those of us in the United States it's still a great option at 25 years, because this is the very last of the solid axle diesel Hilux. So they were available in a quad cab with a really short bed, I think it's around four and a half, five foot bed on the back of it. You can get manual transmission. It's a 3LTE. I had a 2LTE in an LJ 78 Land Cruiser and those you have to be very, very careful around engine temperatures and exhaust temperatures [00:36:00] because they do have head gasket and head cracking and other issues that can occur. They resolved a lot of that with the 3LTE and they tend to be fairly reliable. So you're kind of in this option of getting a fairly modern, really easy to drive on the road, small displacement, turbo diesel solid axle, leaf sprung Hilux, and you can bring it into the United States. And if you find one in Portugal, it's not going to have any rust. It's going to be left-hand drive. Maybe you find one in Panama, if you're lucky and make it an adventure, driving it back from the Darien Gap to wherever you live in the United States.
Richard Giordano: Exactly. And I think for me, after having an extended cab pickup, the biggest benefit of those trucks is that quad cab.
Scott Brady: Yeah.
Richard Giordano: And you can haul all your friends, all your gear, whatever you need, you do lose the bed length for sure. So if you're building a truck that you want to live in, it's very much not going to happen.
Scott Brady: I wonder if you could still do something like a Go Fast, just really lever it out over the cab. I mean, it is a shorter bed than Tacoma, so maybe you'd have to twist somebody's arm or find somebody that can make one for you [00:37:00] custom.
Richard Giordano: But even if you do a flat bed, maybe it's a five foot flat bed, a little pop-up on the back, awesome.
Scott Brady: That would be awesome.
Richard Giordano: Yeah. Otherwise I've seen a lot of flatbeds and canopies, so tracing canopies, like the Australian style builds, and those are awesome. If you want to have a truck that you live out of rather than live in, it's a good option for sure.
Scott Brady: It's important to remember too, that the aftermarket support for those, that truck is prolific because they were sold in Australia, they were sold in South Africa, they were sold all the way throughout Europe. There's tons of aftermarket support. The Australians had those trucks completely figured out.
Richard Giordano: Just call up, getting a suspension sent over.
Scott Brady: Yeah, it would be really easy to do that. And I think ARB tends to be fairly friendly to that. And they even have a lot of that in stock here in North America because they service South America and central America as well. So when someone's buying a suspension for a Hilux in South America, it's going to be delivered out of the containers that come in from Australia to the U S so there's quite a bit of inventory. Even an ARB front bumper is not going to be too difficult to get for that truck. [00:38:00] We're starting to see this very exciting time. It's literally the mid nineties for whatever reason it was the pinnacle of overland vehicles. Now that was what I always said. Now I'm starting to retract that a little bit because arguably, the vehicles that are available right now are better, which I would've never imagined, but you can get a diesel Gladiator, solid axle, dif locked, turbo diesel Gladiator in 2022, that's kind of hard to make an argument against a vehicle like that.
Richard Giordano: And any new vehicles going to have the reliability that you need to travel around the world..
Scott Brady: That's right.
Richard Giordano: For years.
Scott Brady: Yeah. There's a lot of argument to the fact that any new vehicle you get is going to be more reliable than a 40 year old Land Cruiser, unless the Land Cruiser has been completely rebuilt. But then as soon as you get it out of that kind of new processes and assembly line, it just, you're going to have little things crop up.
Richard Giordano: Yeah, anytime you touch something, you're going to make it worse than the factory.
Scott Brady: That's right.
Richard Giordano: Reliability is going to go down for sure. And you just have to know that, but I think the nineties are so great right now. And I know this is happening in the, in the car world as [00:39:00] well that you get this classic that you can still drive on the street or drive around the world because it has air conditioning, usually because it has efi, because it has a decent..
Scott Brady: Power steering.
Richard Giordano: Good brakes, all these things usually has most of the modern conveniences that you have in a newer car, all the ones you really need at least.
Scott Brady: Sure.
Richard Giordano: But in the classic body style.
Scott Brady: So I think that the Hilux is going to be interesting. I was starting to have some conversations with Steve with, from Land Cruisers Direct who I purchased the 74 series Land Cruiser from years ago. And he's like, they're out there and there's some really incredible ones. There's some very low mileage right-hand drive, you know, the wide quad cab, solid axle Toyota Hilux that you can get for the low twenties, which is extremely exciting.
Richard Giordano: And very cool. They're still very rare. So when you see them, especially here on the road in North America, it's, uh, it's exciting. It makes me want one every single time.
Scott Brady: Yeah, for sure. What I have seen in my experience most recently around the Hilux, what we've used them for is for polar conditions. And that is because the Hilux has [00:40:00] uh, very efficient motor in the D4D, even more so in the newest Hilux. So 2016 and newer, they had a, I think it's a 1.7. I could be off on that a little bit, but it was a smaller engine that was available. I should double check that. And maybe it's a 2.2, there's a smaller displacement, a turbo diesel than what came in the previous model. I think the Hilux before that was a three liter D4D turbo diesel. The newer one is even smaller displacement, gets even better fuel economy. But we would build them up, like for Expedition 7, for example, we use Hilux to cross Antarctica. And the reason why they're so useful is because they have a metric ton of payload. You can easily modify them to take up to a 44 inch tall tire. And there's ways that they do that, that is actually a little bit easier even than on like, let's say a 70 series Land Cruiser. So they just cut out a lot of the body and they put on these giant fender flares, and they only add a little bit of suspension lift, a little bit of body lift. They add some massive fuel tanks to them, and then you have a relatively lightweight [00:41:00] vehicle with a gigantic tire on it. That gives for an incredible amount of footprint. In fact, the weight distribution of the tire is less than the human footprint.
Richard Giordano: Interesting.
Scott Brady: So, um, you could actually drive over not just a foot, you could drive over a person with those trucks at three PSI and it wouldn't injure them at all.
Richard Giordano: That's an interesting fact.
Scott Brady: Yeah.
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The Hilux is extremely popular for polar travel. So it's the only vehicle that's regularly used in Arctica for big expeditions is the Hilux. Some of them are converted into a six by six so that they can take more fuel capacity with them. And then as they add weight, now they've added an extra set of tires, which again now distributes that additional weight over that large footprint. So they're incredibly capable. There are a few things that they have to do to them to endure that kind of use.
And it all comes from the 200 Series. So if you're ever wondering what the strongest Land Cruiser ever made was, it was the 200. So they take the rear axle out of a 200 they make the Hilux of five link, and then that gives that rear axle a ton of supporting [00:43:00] wait for the, all of that additional fuel load. And then the other thing that they found in very difficult and challenging conditions was the transfer case on the Hilux would also suffer and they would actually overheat in Antarctica, which is unbelievable to consider, but ice and stuff will collect underneath and snow will collect underneath the vehicle and it will reduce the air flow across the transfer case. So they would actually swap out the transfer case to a 200 Series as well. So, but the Hilux is definitely the polar vehicle of choice for a lot of reasons. And it's also used for a bunch of other stuff. People travel around the world in them.
Richard Giordano: Yeah, it doesn't seem like it's as common as a Land Cruiser is. But when you see them, it just makes sense. I'm thinking about the Euro campers, when they're converting vehicles to live in camper, it's always a Hilux. Chop off the back build a big bill box on the back and then you have the camper with that way of a truck with the payload that can handle the camper, camper to live in. And there's still a capable vehicle to get around the world. Nice little four by four motor home.
Scott Brady: I wonder why that is, I wonder why we still see more 70 Series. Is it [00:44:00] just the romance of the 70?
Richard Giordano: That's part of it.
Scott Brady: It's gotta be, cause they're so charming. They really are.
Richard Giordano: And the new ones are so, so fantastic. The old ones are always beat on and worn out and slow. It's the same thing. Same. I guarantee it's the same reason. We still drive our 90 pickup around all the time. It's the romance. It's the truck you look back at when you park, when you take a photo of it, it just, I don't know what inspires you to, to share that photo to post on Instagram, to do all of those normal things we want to want to do nowadays. So you just don't get that same feeling when it's not the classic.
Scott Brady: It's true. It's true. And I would recommend those that are listening checkout, Lisa and Jason from, To Ride the World, and I think they changed because they were on motorcycles. Did they change the name?
Richard Giordano: Yeah, so they were, they were Two Wheeled Nomad.
Scott Brady: Two Wheeled Nomad.
Richard Giordano: I believe they are Four Wheeled Nomad now.
Scott Brady: Nomad, there we go.
Richard Giordano: So we met them when they're Two Wheeled and we have yet to see their Hilux in person, but..
Scott Brady: Yeah, they've got a white Hilux that they put all the cool stuff on. And Jason Spafford's photography is exceptional. Lisa has written [00:45:00] regularly for Overland Journal and Expedition Portal as well. So check out their Instagram handle for sure.
Richard Giordano: And I think usually Jason's photography is filling Overland Journal nowadays. It's pretty cool.
Scott Brady: Yeah, and they've traveled to Iceland in their Hilux and they've traveled to the Faroe Islands and throughout the UK, and they were getting it ready to go down Africa, right when the pandemic hit. So I think that way laid their plans a little bit, but.
Richard Giordano: And they're able to travel closer to home and share with us what they're seeing there and kind of inspired, definitely inspired Ashley and I to go spend some more time in that region of the world.
Scott Brady: Yeah, no, that's a great account to follow. And for those that are listening, if there's others that you'd like to recommend, we can, we can share those out to the audience so that people can check out and follow other Toyota trucks going around the world. Do you have any more thoughts on the Hilux from your perspective?
Richard Giordano: I'd like to spend more time in them. I think I'd also like to get one. I love the idea of the mid nineties squad cab trucks.
Scott Brady: Totally.
Richard Giordano: Solid axle. I don't really have a use for one, but I have a want for one.
Scott Brady: Yeah, no. Yeah, that's right. It would be a little bit redundant [00:46:00] for you.
Richard Giordano: Don't need another..
Scott Brady: You have a mid nineties pickup right behind you.
Richard Giordano: Part of the reason why we sold our Mitsubishi Delica that was a 93 little L 300, was that I didn't need another antiquated Japanese four by four that can't go, uh, proper speeds on highway.
Scott Brady: Um, well you took care of that with the Tundra.
Richard Giordano: I sure did.
Scott Brady: Has no trouble with that.
Richard Giordano: Yeah, I think after you're, uh, you're stuck going up hills in third gear at 5,000 RPM and half the speed of everybody else for long enough that I think we just need a little bit more power.
Scott Brady: Yeah. I was really impressed with the new Hilux. The last time I was in South Africa, I had the opportunity to drive a brand new Hilux that had, uh, the full compliment of Eezi-Awn components on it and a canopy over the back and just drove it all over South Africa. And it was just such a pleasure to drive. It was so easy to drive. It was effortless. Got really excellent fuel economy. You know, you can get even with a roof tent and everything on the top, you're in the lake seven, eight liters per a hundred K, which is really good. And now of course, these are [00:47:00] lower speeds. So like, if you were on like the equivalent of an interstate in South Africa, you'd start to see that drop off fairly quickly. But if you were just kind of putting along at 80 to a hundred kilometers an hour, it was really good fuel economy.
Richard Giordano: That's great. And I think the D4D is about the same, but also not a lot of power in those things. You're not going anywhere fast.
Scott Brady: Yeah. This one had plenty of power. They squeezed a whole lot of technology and as additional gears in the transmission as well. And with this one was an automatic that I was driving, but, and also very capable off-road rear locking differential available in the new Hilux. It does. It goes a long way. So yeah, it really fun to drive off road.
Richard Giordano: I look forward to spending some more time in Hiluxes and far away places, one of these days.
Scott Brady: Yeah. And we'll drop a bunch of additional media into the YouTube video for this one. If you'd like to find out more about Richard's trip with his 1993 Toyota pickup..
Richard Giordano: 1990.
Scott Brady: Yeah. Did you have something that was..
Richard Giordano: Almost exactly yeah.
Scott Brady: You've covered every year in the nineties. [00:48:00] So you can check out desktoglory.com and we've got a great video on YouTube of Richard's truck on the Expedition Portal YouTube channel, and there's a lot more content available on expeditionportal.com as well about the truck and their travels. And there's some stuff coming out with their new vehicle build of a Toyota Tundra, which we're going to talk about here in one of the upcoming podcasts.
Richard Giordano: So this is the best thing about this little pickup behind us is that gave us the opportunity to go and travel on pretty limited budget and learn. And that's learning from different types of suspension and different types of breaks and things we like and things we don't like about the antiquated vehicles. And we're taking all of that and putting our knowledge base that we have now into our 2008 Tundra.
Scott Brady: I would personally love to see anyone who has built these Toyota pickups and Hilux, and then listening to this podcast, I would love it. If you could send me a couple of photos into Instagram, we can share those out to our audience. You can reach me at Scott.A.Brady on Instagram. Richard, if you wanted to get [00:49:00] in touch with Richard to ask him about what ball joints he used on his front suspension.
Richard Giordano: Sure can reach me at Desk to Glory so just @desktoglory on Instagram, and I'll tell you to get genuine Toyota or Triple Five parts.
Scott Brady: And you just saved yourself so many DMS right there. Well, that was really fun to talk about Toyota trucks. They are literally the Swiss army knife of overland vehicles. They're very affordable, shockingly reliable, on par with the Land Cruiser in our experience, certainly within the Hilux range. Very exciting vehicles to see people using around the world. And we just encourage everybody to take a look at them. We thank you all for listening and we will talk to you next time.