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The only Chevy you’ll see near the one-off Toyota Hilux Gladiator will be sitting in the driver’s seat.
Created by Toyota New Zealand as a one-off concept truck to demonstrate the range of accessories available for Hilux at Fieldays, the Hilux Gladiator is a muscular beast equipped to handle anything New Zealand can throw at it. Stretching the definition of fully loaded, the Hilux Gladiator is based on a 4WD double cab Hilux SR5 and has around $65,000 worth of modifications and accessories.
When Chevy and Michele Alexander saw the Toyota Hilux Gladiator at the Mystery Creek Fieldays in 2017 (they go every year after spending their honeymoon at Fieldays), they couldn’t take their eyes off it. In fact, over the course of their four-day trip to Fieldays they visited the hyper-accessorised Gladiator several times. When they returned home to Taupo, they visited their Toyota dealership to see if they could buy the Gladiator but found the concept vehicle was not for sale.
Two years later, after being shown off by Toyota at Fieldays and used in the Emirates Team New Zealand homecoming parade, Toyota put the Gladiator up for sale on TradeMe with a $1 reserve. This was the moment Chevy was waiting for.
“I had just bought a new Toyota V8 Landcruiser and then the Gladiator came up for auction. I just had to have it. I decided I was going to be the top bidder. I secured the auction with a bid of $81,100 and traded the Landcruiser in for it,” said Chevy.
Despite his name, given to him by his parents, Chevy Alexander is a dyed-in-the-wool Toyota man. He’s owned quite a few over the years. Michele recently swapped her Toyota 86 for a 4WD Hilux. Another 1980s Hilux ‘Green Monster’ with 700,000 kms on the clock is also in the family.
Michele was completely supportive of the purchase: “The Gladiator is a really different one-off vehicle. It’s so cleverly put together and is a great example of what Toyota is capable of,” she said.
Toyota New Zealand General Manager Used Vehicles, Steve Prangnell, was delighted the Hilux Gladiator has been bought by Toyota enthusiasts. “With a $1 reserve we knew the Gladiator was going to attract a lot of interest. So, it’s absolutely brilliant that a Toyota fan like Chevy won the auction,” he said.
Chevy and Michele have big plans for the Hilux Gladiator. They plan to hook up their German-built Commander off-road caravan and go on a road trip around the South Island.
On their return, the Hilux Gladiator won’t be out of place in Chevy’s garage alongside his 1952 Fordson Van rat-rod and 1943 hi-boy hot-rod. (And Michele’s Hilux, of course.)