Watching the Space Shuttle Endeavour take it’s final journey in front of an open mouthed American public being towed by an unmodified 2012 Toyota Tundra was a bit of a visual spectacle.
The four robotic vehicles carrying the Endeavour for the bulk of it’s journey to the California Science Center were controlled by one man walking along side with a joy-stick. But the combined weight was unsurprisingly too heavy to safely traverse the Manchester Bridge.
So with the 405 Freeway temporarily closed, up to the plate stepped the Tundra, to no doubt rapturous excitement from Toyota’s marketing team. The vehicle was a standard vehicle with a 5.7 litre V8 engine, built in Texas and pushing out 381hp. It was driven on this occasion by a stunt driver by the name of Matthew McBride.
Plenty of practice had gone on behind the scenes for this momentous moment and the Toyota had already proven it could pull more then the Endeavour’s weight – albeit understandably very slowly. The total weight of the Endeavour Space Shuttle, including the specially manufactured trailer, was around 300,000 pounds. The Tundra boasts 401 ft lb of torque, but despite this, it still took some believing that this would go without a hitch – especially as Toyota rate this vehicle as having a maximum towing capacity of 10,400 pounds.
Toyota had attempted to crack the prestigious American pickup market previously, but many reviewers had suggested that the Japanese manufacturer had not quite ‘got’ the American pickup market, not really understanding that America likes it’s pickups BIG.
Watching the half-ton pickup, emblazoned with the words “born in America” under the front grille and simply “Tundra” in giant letters down each side, perform this rather incredible bridge crossing on Saturday night you have to say that Toyota have clearly got it right this time. I expect sales will soar on the back of this and if they don’t, well Toyota will now have some amazing footage to persuade the disbelievers that the Tundra CrewMax 4×4 is now a serious contender.
As a nice touch, sitting alongside Matt McBride for the 5-minute journey was Garrett Reisman. Reisman was one of the astronauts aboard Endeavour as it travelled to the International Space Station in 2008.
Images from wot.motortrend.com