There’s an energy to Steve Strope that is extraordinary even in the hypercharged world of hot rodding. Like the Spinal Tap amps that go to 11, Strope’s energy level starts at above average and goes up from there. That, combined with his technical chops and design imagination, expresses itself in the form of the hot rods he creates at Pure Vision in Simi Valley, California. Readers of Hot Rod magazine and visitors to the SEMA Show and the Grand National Roadster Show probably associate Pure Vision with over-the-top muscle cars, but Strope can take anything with four wheels and build it into something cool. Peter Freedman’s 1962 Toyota Lite-Stout is proof.
Peter, from Sydney, Australia, is the founder of RØDE Microphones and an avid car collector. He said that his taste is diverse and his preference is for anything that interests him. That includes everything from exotic European performance cars with neck-snapping power to very unexotic little trucks making double-digit horsepower. He discovered his 1962 Stout about 10 years ago, when he saw a lighting delivery guy driving it. It was rusty, but running and complete. He knew it belonged as an unlikely part of his vehicle collection, but that would require a transformation—and a connection on the other side of the earth.
Doug, the general manager at the RØDE facility in the Los Angeles knows Steve Strope and recommended him to Peter. On his next trip to the U.S., Peter paid a visit to Pure Vision and started talking with Strope about building the Stout. The appeal of the project for both of them was the fact that it would be something of a novelty and—unlike the sports cars in Peter’s corral and the muscle cars created at Pure Vision—the Stout was a more achievable, real-world build. What they didn’t anticipate was that “achievable” would require a lot of effort and “real world” would mean parts collected from around the world, including a camshaft located in Turkey, other engine parts found in the Philippines, and a windshield from Vietnam. RockAuto on the Internet was the source for other Toyota parts.
Toyota redesigned the Stout in 1960, updating the rounded body lines from the ’50s with angular lines and four headlights. The second-generation lines were what originally appealed to Peter, so they were left stock—but perfected by Mick Jenkins of Mick’s Paint in Pomona, California. On the bed, hooks were shaved from the exterior sides and new tailgate cables and brackets were fabricated. The profile was improved by extending the bed sides 2 inches at the bottom to align with the cab. Toyota painted this Stout light green when it was new. Jenkins sprayed a close color, Aston Martin Apple Green, to add some British sports car flavor to Peter’s Australian-Japanese classic truck.
A radically slammed profile wouldn’t fit the character of the truck, but a slight rake does, so Pure Vision left the suspension in its 1962 configuration. The ride is smoothed by a pair of front shocks from NAPA Auto Parts. The stock front springs were cut for the right ride height. Eaton Detroit Spring provided custom rear springs with modified perches and hangers. The mild modifications plus the Stout’s slightly sloping lines add that just-right aggression to the profile.
Strope said that the wheels were selected for their nondescript style. That may not be the typical way to choose a set of rims, but he explained that the painted 17-inch Wheel Vintiques Smoothies with chrome center caps provide the perfect reserved and timeless look, even when wrapped in ultrahigh-performance Pirelli P Zero radials. The rear brakes are the factory drums. The front brakes were converted to discs; Strope took one of the Toyota spindles to Wilwood to create a hub for the application, and fabricated caliper mounting brackets.
Pure Vision teamed up with Gabe’s Custom Interiors to create a cab that looks sporty but reflects the Stout’s work-vehicle origins. Buckskin leather upholstery with a slight orange tint is a good-looking contrast to the paint, and was used on the seats, door panels, and floating headliner. Seating was improved by removing some springs from the factory bench, trimming it a little thinner, and repositioning it lower and slightly back. The stock steering wheel and column are retained and restored—and kept on the right, the way they do it in Australia. The Stout gauges, rebuilt by Redline Gauge Works, feature inverted colors on the panel—black lettering on cream instead of the original white on black. The white plastic wiper, parking light, and headlight push buttons on the right were restored. The underdash tray was modified and hides the Vintage Air A/C system. The Vintage Air control knobs in these photos have recently been replaced with chrome knobs from a Fender Telecaster guitar. Gabes laid black German weave carpeting on either side of the trans tunnel to allow easy service to the transmission.
Considering Peter’s involvement in the audio business, we would have been surprised if his Stout wasn’t packed with a high-quality sound system. A Bluetooth phone is linked to the Phoenix Gold amp under the passenger seat. The cruising soundtrack plays through multiple CDT Audio speakers—four 4-inch midrange and four 2-inch tweeters—located in the doors, kick panels, and behind the seats. An 8-inch subwoofer from a BMW X5 SUV is mounted beneath the driver seat.
When it comes to power, Pure Vision goes with engines that fit the purpose and personality of each project. For an earth-shaking street machine, that might be a big-cube, high-horsepower motor. For a lowkey Lite-Stout cruiser, it would be the factory four-cylinder. This one may be the only engine of its kind built by Ed Pink Racing Engines. The head was ported and that cam from Turkey was treated to a custom grind. A Weber two-barrel carburetor replaces the original single-barrel. On the exhaust side end, the stock manifold was Jet Hot coated and tied to 1 1/2-inch pipes from Aced Auto Worx. Strope used the crank pulley from a Ford big-block, inverted and turned backward. A Ford small-block pulley is used on the Toyota water pump and custom brackets were fabricated for the air conditioning and Mitsubishi alternator. The Stout four-cylinder saw its horsepower jump from 63 to 80 hp, pretty impressive considering that’s an approximate 30 percent increase. A column-shifted Toyota four-speed backs up the engine, delivering torque to 4.11 gears in the Toyota rearend.
If the purpose of building a classic truck is to have something cool and fun, Peter’s little 1962 Stout is a big success. It has made appearances at a few shows, but Peter says that driving the truck was the true point of the project and it’s too fun to treat too carefully.
1962 Toyota Stout
Rearend / Ratio: Stock / 4.11:1
Rear Suspension: Toyota, Eaton Detroit Springs
Rear Brakes: Stock drums
Front Suspension: Toyota, NAPA shocks, modified springs
Front Brakes: Wilwood disc brakes, master cylinder
Front Wheels: Wheel Vintiques Smoothies 17×7 with chrome caps
Rear Wheels: Wheel Vintiques Smoothies 17×8 with chrome caps
Front Tires: Pirelli P Zero radials 215/55R17
Rear Tires: Pirelli P Zero radials 235/55R17
Gas Tank: Stock, refurbished
Engine: 1962 Toyota four-cylinder, built by Ed Pink Racing Engines
Cylinder Head: Toyota, ported
Carburetor: Weber two-barrel
Intake Manifold: Toyota
Valve Cover: Toyota
Fan: Four blade
Headers: Stock exhaust manifolds
Exhaust: 1 1/2-inch custom by Pure Vision
Transmission: Toyota four-speed manual, four-on-the-tree shifter
Style: 1962 Toyota Stout
Modifications: Bedside hooks removed, bed sheetmetal extended downward to align with cab, custom bed cables
Headlights / Taillights: Stock / Stock
Door Handles: Stock
Bodywork: Mick Jenkins at Mick’s Paint
Paint: PPG Aston Martin Apple Tree Green
Painter: Mick Jenkins at Mick’s Paint
Dashboard: 1962 Toyota Stout, modified
Gauges: Stock, rebuilt by Redline Gauge Works
Steering Wheel: Stock
Steering Column: Stock
Seats: Stock, modified
Upholstery Material / Color: Buckskin tan leather
Upholsterer: Gabe’s Custom Interiors
Carpet / Color: German weave carpet segments / Black
Air Conditioning: Vintage Air
Sound System: Phoenix Gold amp, CDT Audio speakers, BMW X5 SUV subwoofer, Bluetooth phone compatibility
Accessories: Lock box mounted under passenger seat