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"Back to the Future" 2016 Toyota Tacoma Travels Back to 1985

Automaker recreates Marty McFly's drool-worthy pickup truck

Erick Ayapana
Oct 21, 2015

The time-traveling DeLorean is the obvious automotive superstar in "Back to the Future," but Marty McFly's 1985 Toyota pickup truck was definitely drool-worthy. Much like McFly himself, the Toyota pickup was a reliable and modest unsung hero. The truck's blacked-out treatment and off-road mods helped boost its appeal as the dream truck for many '80s kids.

As "Back to the Future" fans celebrate October 21, 2015, the day Marty travels to the future in the movie's 1989 sequel, Toyota is participating in the festivities by recreating the classic truck with a 2016 Tacoma. For help, the automaker turned to KMA Promotions to execute the special build.

2019 Toyota Tacoma
$25,550 Base Model (MSRP) MPG Fuel Economy

KMA didn't have the actual movie truck to work with, so they were left with one option. "We had the movie," said Scott Kanemura, owner of KMA Promotions. "And we watched it, like, a lot."

2016 Toyota Tacoma Back to the Future tribute truck front end 02 Photo 2/41   |   "Back to the Future" 2016 Toyota Tacoma Travels Back to 1985

In the process of becoming "Back to the Future" experts, Kanemura and his team made some interesting discoveries. "It's weird because at one point the truck has a single-bar roll cage," said Kanemura. "But later on it has a double-bar roll cage." His team decided the double-bar style looked better and replicated it for a 2016 Toyota Tacoma 4WD Access Cab truck, which is the closest configuration to the movie's 1985 Toyota truck 4WD Access Cab model.

Kanemura points out that they fabricated a light bar, rather than a functional roll bar. The light bar, however, is connected to the slide mounts on the truck's bed and surfboards can be mounted on it. Kanemura's team also fabricated the front and rear tube bumpers.

Up front, the Tacoma's side indicator lights were painted amber like the 1985 truck. However, much more work and details went into the taillights. KMA started with a clear-lens taillight and then painted the amber turn indicator and frosted reverse light for a pretty convincing replica of the units used in 1985.

2016 Toyota Tacoma Back to the Future tribute truck rear taillight Photo 6/41   |   "Back to the Future" 2016 Toyota Tacoma Travels Back to 1985

The tailgate also required significant fabrication. The 2016 Tacoma has a fairly elaborate tailgate with a large stamped Tacoma logo and exposed hinges. In order to copy the 1985 tailgate, Kanemura had to relocate the hinges and then weld a cover piece over the entire liftgate's face. Paint was used to replicate the retro Toyota logo decal.

Kanemura is especially proud of the small badge mounted on the rear door. In the 1985 truck, the badge read "Toyota, 4WD, EFI." EFI, of course, referred to the electronic fuel injection used in the 2.4-liter I-4 22RE engine. For the Tacoma, the throwback badge reads "Toyota, 4WD, D-4S," which refers to the Tacoma's advanced port and direct-injection system. Another stand-out detail is the paint, which is the original black hue and paint code from 1985.

Coincidentally, Toyota's TRD division already had wheels that are dead ringers for the ones used in the movie. Toyota's signature "4WD" mudflaps are a genuine OEM set that needed little fabrication to fit on the Tacoma. Aside from Fox suspension components, the Back to the Future Tacoma doesn't have any other mechanical mods.

The accessory lights were an absolute must-have, and thankfully, KC makes an updated LED version that looks similar to the halogen set used in the 1980s. Kanemura says KC switched to hard plastic yellow light covers, but KC decided to contribute to the build's authenticity. "KC was actually excited to hear about the truck," Kanemura said. "So they made us yellow vinyl covers just like the ones used in 1985."

Toyota has no plans to make this an official limited-edition model, but perhaps the automaker will change its mind with enough begging. Kanemura said his shop probably won't replicate the build for normal customers. But if your sizable bet on the Cubs winning the World Series turns out in your favor, perhaps your winnings could be enough to convince Kanemura or any other shop to build the Toyota 4x4 of your dreams.

2016 Toyota Tacoma Back to the Future tribute truck decal Photo 10/41   |   "Back to the Future" 2016 Toyota Tacoma Travels Back to 1985
2016 Toyota Tacoma Back to the Future tribute truck headlight Photo 41/41   |   "Back to the Future" 2016 Toyota Tacoma Travels Back to 1985
By Erick Ayapana
108 Articles



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