A Toyota Hi-Ace on AutoSpeed?! You bet - but rest assured this
isn't any ordinary Hi-Ace. Say hello to the top-of-the-line Japanese-market 1994
Hi-Ace Super Custom Limited. It's four wheels of velour, abundant space and
comfort and it comes packed with a host of whacky features like a
fridge/warmer/ice maker, a kettle, electric curtains and "Joyful Talk" (which we
will explain later!). We're not afraid to say that this vehicle gets us excited
- and we reckon you'd get excited too (so long as no one could hear you admit
Fight it as much as you like but you can't help having a good
time onboard the Super Custom Limited; you step in dreading that someone might
be able to recognise you through the dark tinted windows but when it's time to
step out, well, you don't want to!
So let's get to it. What is it about the Super Custom Limited
that is so great?
Well, the Hi-Ace might have been originally designed as a trade
van but you'd never know it when you sit yourself in the back of the 7-seater
Super Custom Limited; it's like you're riding in a first class carriage. Who
needs a limo?! The second row seat can accommodate three abreast with minimal
'getting friendly' and the third row seat is designed for two people. But no
matter where you sit, the sheer volume of space inside the cabin allows you to
stretch your feet out as if you're sitting in your favourite home armchair. You
wanna stand up and move around inside the cabin? No problems - there's plenty of
And then we move onto the Super Custom Limited's features.
Ahhh, the features...
First of all, there is a total of three
moon roofs -
one above the front seats, a humungous one above the second row seat and twin
pop-up glass panels above the third row seat. These three glass panels let you
change the in-cabin ambience completely - close them over when it's gloomy
outside and open them up to enjoy the sunshine on the nicer days.
You'll also find the Super Custom Limited is equipped with none
other than a kettle and fridge/warmer/ice maker between the two front seats. You
can just imagine it. You're late for work so you whack on a hot brew and pull
out a morning snack en-route!
And if you thought that was elaborate, things just keep on
A feature guaranteed to provide hours of fun for the kids (and
most adults) is the fantastic "Joyful Talk" intercom system. And, no, we didn't
make that name up! Simply press the Joyful Talk button while you're driving and
speak into the roof-mounted microphone and the rear passengers will benefit from
your wealth of knowledge. "If you care to look out the left window you can see
Mount Fuji", etc...
Then there's the less exciting features like memory settings
for the driving position, electric retractable mirrors, analogue climate
control, rear AC outlets (with controls), the Soarer-style 3D digital instrument
cluster, a large fluorescent light, a myriad of speakers and fold down armrests
for all. Oh, and we mustn't forget the electric curtains! Bzzzz.
But we keep coming back to how comfortable the Super Custom
Limited is. Forget buying a luxury saloon - this thing is w-a-y more comfortable
for long trips. What's more, it could also be used as a weekend get-away
vehicle. There's heaps of luggage space and second row seat can be easily folded
flat to create a double bed; you'll even discover that the kettle is
strategically positioned within arm's reach for when you wake up...
God, we love this vehicle - we want to move in!
The Super Custom Limited is fitted with a 1KZ-TE 3.0-litre
turbo diesel engine that has the grunt to make the Hi-Ace a pretty effortless
mover. Just lean on the throttle a bit and the turbo spools up and a generous
serving of Newton Metres are called into action. Of course, Newton Metres are
quite different to kilowatts but the 3.0-litre TD still puts out enough power to
give the van adequate top-end scoot. Power and torque are officially listed at
96kW and 333Nm (at 3600 and 2000 rpm respectively). The redline is marked at
Our test vehicle also came with the standard 4-speed automatic
transmission that helps make the most of the engine's output. A Power/Economy
switch has a noticeable effect on driving feel.
The Hi-Ace's drive is to the rear wheels and under the back-end
you'll find a ol' live-axe. Yes, you can feel that axle hoping around over bumps
but it is never unstable - not on the bitumen, at least. We also found the rear
tyres are easy to squeal when you squeeze on power as the body rolls around
during corners. Handling is nothing electrifying but it is predictable and very
progressive nonetheless - it's not like there's enough grunt to snap into power
oversteer... Suspension travel is ample and the TEMS adjustable ride is very
Visually, the Super Custom Limited has been tarted up by Toyota
but there's no denying its humble origins. Two-tone paint, 205/70 tyres on
15-inch alloys, a full-width rear garnish, reversing mirror, dark tint, gold
rimmed side window air deflectors and the Japanese-spec nose and tail treatment
are what set's this vehicle apart. It all comes together with a sort of '70s
panelvan look but you're guaranteed not to attract too much attention - except
maybe for a nod from curious courier drivers...
Our test vehicle (which we only reluctantly handed back!) was
supplied by Craig Dean of Melbourne's Sports and Luxury Cars. Craig had a few
Japanese-market Hi-Aces in stock at the time of writing and our 1994 test
vehicle - with just 48,000km and in immaculate condition - was being offered for
AUD$26,000. That's pretty good value considering the amount of vehicle you're
If you reckon we're going insane, we really suggest that you
take one for a test drive!
1994 Japanese-Market Toyota Hi-Ace Super Custom Limited Fast Facts...
- Terrific list of features - Joyful Talk intercom, fridge/ice
maker, kettle, electric curtains and more!
- Unbelievably comfortable
- Rear seats fold into a double bed
- Effortless torque from 3.0-litre turbo diesel
- Great ambience with all three moonroofs open
- Weird but we love it!
Test vehicle supplied by Sports and Luxury Cars in
Sports and Luxury Cars +61 3 9753 5799