HOUMA, La. – A Toyota owner celebrating a milestone in his Tundra — it recently rolled over the 1 million mile mark.
Victor Sheppard continued to drive it until Toyota saw the well-kept truck. They asked him if he was interested in swapping for a brand new Tundra. He said yes.
Sheppard swapped trucks this week at Greg Leblanc Toyota in his hometown of Houma, Louisiana.
Sheppard’s Tundra was a 2007 model year, one of the first of its kind assembled at Toyota Motor Manufacturing in San Antonio, Texas. Workers at Toyota in Huntsville made the engine then shipped it to San Antonio to go in the vehicle.
Sheppard has been the sole owner and put an average of 125,000 miles on the truck every year, regularly driving long-haul trips from his home to North Dakota, Wyoming, and Virginia for his job. The truck still has its original engine, transmission and silver paint job.
“Most people can’t believe how much on his truck is original,” said Ron Weimer, general manager of Greg Leblanc Toyota. “Victor has been loyal to his maintenance and kept it up.”
“My truck looks great, and, except for a few little dents, it’s almost like new,” said Sheppard. “Even the seats look just as they were when I bought it. They’re not as clean, of course, but they’re not busted or worn out.”
Toyota’s production engineers and team members plan to study Sheppard’s 2007 Tundra to gain insight for future product development.
While high-mileage vehicles help validate the quality of the manufacturing processes the company employs, Toyota engineers are interested in how the engine and transmission as well as other components and parts, such as the seats, have held up. And as one of the first Tundra trucks from the San Antonio plant, Toyota’s chief truck engineer from Toyota Technical Center, Mike Sweers, and his team want a chance to get a better look under the hood and everywhere else to learn how the vehicle holds up after so many miles and rigorous use.
“Having a million-mile truck in as pristine condition as this one with original parts is a truly rare find,” said Sweers. “Our team plans to tear down the entire truck, bumper-to-bumper, top-to-bottom to evaluate how the quality and safety we designed, engineered and built into the Tundra has held up to over one-million miles of real-world driving and help us continue providing ever-better vehicles for our customers.”
The disassembly process is expected to take months as engineers examine each part of the engine, chassis, body, and other components. With the knowledge gained, the engineers will apply their findings to future trucks.
Sheppard’s new 2016 Tundra is also his 16th Tundra.
“I believed [reaching a million miles] wouldn’t be a problem,” said Sheppard. “These trucks are safe and dependable. I think, if you see a Toyota on the side of the road, it might be a scam because they just don’t break down very often.”
Huntsville’s Toyota engine plant is the only Toyota plant globally to build 4-cylinder, V6 and V8 engines under one roof. It makes 4-cylinder engines for the Camry, RAV4, Venza, Highlander, V6 engines for the Tacoma and Lexus RX and V8 engines for the Sequoia and Tundra.