Hollywood Movies

What It Was Like Driving A Diesel Box Truck That Used To Make Hollywood Movies: Trade-In-Tuesday

April 2, 20247 Mins Read

Today’s installment of Trade-In-Tuesday is a little different. Last week, I climbed a telephone pole to try to charge a Chevy Volt; before that I hauled a huge junkyard axle in the Midgate-equipped Chevy Avalanche; before that, I ripped a nasty burnout in a Hemi-powered Chrysler 300C. But this week, things are bigger, torquier, and tilt-ier than ever. That’s because I pilot a Hino 195 — a big, diesel-powered box truck that used to be rented out to studios to help them produce Hollywood movies. Here’s what driving this beast was like.

The Hino 195 box truck is a vehicle you probably ignore as it drives past you on the streets, with a hard working person behind the wheel getting ready to deliver something big (or many somethings small). It’s a generic box truck from a company you’ve never heard of — well, unless you’ve been reading The Autopian.

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You see, we’ve written about Hino a few times. Mark Tucker wrote about the Renault Dauphine-based Hiino Contessa that he found for sale:

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And Jason wrote about the one-off Hino Contessa “900 Sprint,” which was shown off at various auto shows around the world but never actually made it to production:

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Speaking of Hino ‘s cars, it built the early versions of the Toyota Hilux after the two companies joined forces in the 1960s:

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Hino remains a part of Toyota, but it specializes in commercial vehicles like the one I drove — the 195. Here, watch this week’s episode of Trade-In-Tuesday:

The 195 is a medium-duty body-on-frame truck designed for the North American market. It’s got a 5.0-liter V8 diesel engine mated to a six-speed Aisin automatic transmission, feeding power to a dually solid rear axle. It’s honestly quite straightforward:

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The one I drove had been part of Galpin Studio Rentals, which is a fascinating part of our sister-company’s business model. Here, let me quote the upcoming, currently-work-in-progress Galpin book:

Have you ever wondered where the vehicles in your favorite movies and shows come from? There’s a good chance the answer is Galpin.

It all started with A Boy’s LifeE.T.’s working title before its release. Those Fairmonts and Granadas chasing the mysterious-but-charming alien were rented from Galpin Rent-A-Car, which was just starting to offer picture cars (cars you see on the screen) and other vehicles needed for movie and TV productions.

Then there was Back to the Future, a now-classic that featured some incredible old automobiles, many of which (including a DeLorean) Galpin helped source. The Dealership also provided cars for Dances with WolvesNightmare on Elm StreetYoung GunsFriday the 13thTop Gun and The Untouchables during this era.

In the 1980s, Galpin was busy delivering upwards of 200 vans, station wagons, and dually crew cabs each July for the coming TV season to the studios of Universal, Warner Bros, Paramount,  20th Century Fox, Sony and MGM.

In the 1990s Galpin formally established Galpin Studio Rentals to provide production vehicles and picture cars for film, TV and commercial productions, the latter of which was booming at the time. Some of the major feature films that Galpin Studio Rentals was involved with included: Basic InstinctTombstonePulp FictionScreamMighty DucksJurassic ParkFatal InstinctReservoir DogsSomething About MaryDumb & DumberThe MaskArmageddon and Titanic.

The 2000s saw Galpin provide vehicles for movies like Gone In Sixty SecondsPearl HarborNational TreasureKill BillIron ManThe Hangover 1 & 3Fast & FuriousPirates of the CaribbeanSpidermanTraining DayPitch PerfectOcean’s 8Rush Hour and many others.

In the late 2000s through the 2010s, TV production boomed and Galpin Studio Rentals found itself working with all of the major studios on shows such as: Modern FamilyBlackishCSI VegasScandalHow to Get Away With MurderShamelessSons of Anarchy, Big BrotherNCIS LABoschEuphoria, Wipe OutYellowstone, Grey’s AnatomyHow I Met Your MotherCurb Your Enthusiasm, to name a few.

With the proliferation of streaming services like Netflix, Apple TV, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc., production volume has grown. A few of Galpin’s recent credits include: Being the RicardosFlamin’ HotPam & Tommy LeeLincoln LawyerBlack Lady Sketch ShowRide or DieBabylonGrace & FrankieGLOWReno 911I CarlyRatchetAll American, Top Gun: Maverick, and more to follow.

Galpin Studio Rentals continues to expand its production vehicle offerings, with make-up and wardrobe trailers joining the mix. On top of that, the group also rents out production supplies and event rentals that have nothing to do with vehicles. It’s all part of an impressive growth trajectory of the well-run, booming Studio Rentals division of Galpin Motors.

Galpin has been involved in more movie, TV, and commercial production than any other dealership in the world since the 1980s.

Fascinating stuff!

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I had the pleasure of using one of those cabled-controllers that hydraulically raise and lower the rear deck. It flips down, then it becomes a flat platform, and then it goes perfectly up and down to raise and lower heavy loads. It’s awesome, and could even work as a lift for a small vehicle; I bet my World War II Jeep would fit on that platform, and it’d definitely fit in the cargo hold (which by the way features a translucent roof, which I found awesome, as it meant the inside was always nice and bright (during the day)).

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There’s a big door on one side of the box, and there’s tons of storage down below. I found a printer in one of the storage bins; it appears to be from about 2012:

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The interior is fairly straightforward. You’ve got a split bench seat, with the driver’s seat actually having a damping system! There’s a little knob under the seat that allows you to adjust the damping rate so that if you’re heavy and you hit a big bump, you won’t bottom the seat out — you’ll just float like a magic carpet. I cannot overstate how incredible this feature is. All cars should have suspension seats!

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There’s a dashboard filled with more blank buttons than I’ve ever seen in a single vehicle (makes sense, as truckers wire up all sorts accessories), there’s a standard floor-mounted PRNDL shifter (a waste of space if you ask me; this should be a column shifter), and there’s ample storage in the glovebox, door pockets, center console, and dashboard cubbies. It’s a decent place to spend time, but basic.

Before I headed off, I checked out that diesel engine, and because the Hino 195 is a cabover, that meant I had to tip the cab:

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I’d never done this before, and the instructions threw me for a bit of a loop at first. You have to pull certain rods and hold them while you pull other rods, then you have to push the cab forward with all your might, and then it latches in place via a prop-rod. The cab is set up such that it can be lifted reasonably easily, but do not try doing this with a person inside as I did:

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Here’s a look at the diesel engine under the cab:

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You can see the intake there on the left; when you lower the cab, the upper part of the intake pushes straight down on that to complete the seal for the intake tube, which goes from the back of the cab (roughly at the same height as the top of roof) down to the turbocharger.

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I don’t want to give away too much because I’d like you to watch that beautifully shot and edited video, but we did run into that^ during the test drive. I truly have no clue what the hell that is. It’s a huge mass of duct tape attached to the front of a Honda Civic’s front driver’s side door. It just droops from the cowl all the way down to the rocker panel. I’m baffled.

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But what I’m not baffled about is that suspension seat, which I put to the test while booking it over speed bumps. Suspension seats for all, I say. Suspension seats for all.

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