Today’s Rare Ride is a very interesting version of a ho-hum economy hatchback. By the time Toyota finished with their edits, said hatchback was turned into a pickup truck in similar in concept to the Chevy Avalanche.
Though Japan received the Toyota bB with its traditional name in 2000, it didn’t arrive in North America until later. In 2004, Toyota introduced it as the xB, a key component of the new Scion brand.
The BB was offered in a five-door hatchback configuration most of the time, but we’ll get to that shortly. Based on the subcompact NBC platform from the Toyota Echo, bB had a wheelbase of 98.4 inches, and an overall length of 155.3 inches. Power was provided by 1.3- or 1.5- liter engines, though the smaller mill did not appear in the Scion. Transmissions on offer were a four-speed auto or five-speed manual.
The model’s first generation lasted through 2005 as the BB, and 2006 as xB before a split occurred. In its home market, the second-gen bB (also sold as a Subaru and Daihatsu) was made specifically to appeal to youths in Japan. In 2007 the new xB debuted on the Corolla platform and was sold in Japan as a larger car, the Toyota Corolla Rumion.
Early in the bB’s production, Toyota got creative and reworked the hatchback into a new car: the Open Deck. Classified as a coupe utility, Toyota cut the roof off the cargo area and placed structural bars where the roof used to be. The hatch was replaced with a tailgate to gain access to the newly created truck bed, and the new rear window became another tailgate. It was a two-piece clamshell design, where rear glass lifted on gas struts, and the lower portion folded down flat into the truck bed. Rear seats folded flat to make for an extra-long cargo area. The abbreviated site profile of the bB could no longer support four doors, so the rear door was removed on the driver’s side. On the passenger side, the rear door was shrunk and hinged at the rear. Then Toyota removed the passenger side b-pillar for maximum access. The three-door Open Deck was a (very) short truck all the time, and a slightly more capacious truck when you needed it to be.
There’s no word on how many Open Decks were made, but it’s a safe bet there weren’t many. It’s like a SEMA custom job that actually made production. They’re difficult to find for sale, but today’s black example was available in Japan recently for $8,000.[Images: Toyota, YouTube]