Toyota in the US has given a long-time customer a free 2016 Tundra pick-up truck worth around US$40,000 in return for a 2007 Tundra that’s clocked more than one million miles – and it’s all in the name of research.
No strings, says Toyota. It wants purely to take the used model apart to see how it held up doing an average of 125,000 miles (202,000km) a year. That way, it says, it can apply any lessons learned to future pick-up builds.
Louisiana long-haul contractor Victor Sheppard (top, at wheel) has regularly driven 4000km round trips from his home in Houma, a bayou town an hour’s drive south-west of New Orleans, to faraway jobs in northern US states.
The Tundra still has its original engine, transmission and paint job. Its odometer is frozen on 999,999 miles. (1.62 million km).
“Most people can’t believe how much on his truck is original,” said Ron Weimer, general manager of Greg Leblanc Toyota, in Houma. “Victor has been loyal to his maintenance and kept it up.” Weimer has regularly featured the Tundra on the dealership’s Facebook page.
Sheppard has logged 117 service visits over nine years, ranging from timing belt replacements, oil changes, and the manufacturer’s regularly scheduled check-ups.
“My truck looks great, and, except for a few little dents, it’s almost like new,” said Sheppard. “Even the seats look just as they were when I bought it. They’re not as clean, of course, but they’re not busted or worn out.”
The 2007 Tundra was one of the first of its kind assembled at Toyota’s plant in San Antonio, Texas. It has drawn attention in the past, taking pride of place in 2012 in Toyota’s outdoor truck display at the Texas State Fair, in Dallas.
The chief truck engineer for Toyota’s technical centre in the US, Mike Sweers, is leading the team preparing to dismantle Sheppard’s Tundra.
“Having a million-mile truck in as pristine condition as this one with original parts is a truly rare find,” said Sweers. “Our team plans to tear down the entire truck to evaluate how the Tundra has held up to over one-million miles of real-world driving.”