High-Mileage Marvel

Hotshot driver’s Tundra blows past 1 million-mile mark
by Karen Nielsen
May/June 2016
High-Mileage Marvel
A Million Miles
Victor Sheppard (center) celebrates 1 million miles driven on his 2007 Tundra with his friends at Greg LeBlanc Toyota: General Manager Ron Weimer (left) and Dealer Principal Geri LeBlanc.
Victor Sheppard became an unwitting Facebook marvel as friends of Greg LeBlanc Toyota followed his 2007 Tundra’s trek to hitting an extraordinary 1 million miles.
Yep, that’s right: One. Million. Miles. And, it’s rockin’ the original engine, transmission and even paint job. OK, well maybe the paint doesn’t actually rock, but it sure looks good. 
Sheppard hit the rare milestone in February and continues to draw attention, as many wonder how the Tundra keeps on trucking.
“A lot of people know me now,” says Sheppard, who lives in Hahnville, near New Orleans, La. “They did the journey with me. Whenever I hit a milestone, I send in a picture and Greg LeBlanc Toyota puts me on the Facebook page. When I go in to the dealership, they take care of me. I couldn’t ask for better people.”
My Baby, My Beast
The Tundra garnered regional attention when it was showcased at Toyota’s outdoor truck display at the 2012 Texas State Fair in Dallas. At the time, the odometer read 666,803 miles, and Sheppard was already looking ahead to the million-mile goal.
“I knew it wouldn’t be a problem. It’s safe and dependable,” he says.  
Sheppard, who has owned numerous Tundra trucks in the past, is a hotshot driver delivering time-sensitive equipment for the oilfield and other industries needing door-to-door service. When the oil business was flush, he averaged 125,000 miles a year, but last year he logged closer to 110,000 with oil prices sliding. He regularly drives long-haul trips to places such as North Dakota, Wyoming and Virginia, and has been known to take a nap or two in the cab.
“This is my baby, my beast. It’s also my second home,” says Sheppard, who’s 6’4”. “I’m a big guy and it’s very comfortable for me.”
Maintaining Amazing
“Most people can’t believe how much on his truck is original,” says Ron Weimer, general manager of Greg LeBlanc Toyota in Houma, La., where Sheppard has logged 117 service visits over nine years.
“That’s the amazing thing about this truck,” Weimer says. “Victor has been loyal to his maintenance and kept it up. I think he’s a Toyota believer. He believes in the brand.”
“My truck looks great and, except for a few little dents, it’s almost like new,” Sheppard says. “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.”
“I will go anywhere and feel comfortable and not have to worry like a lot of people,” he says. “My baby is very dependable.”

Turning Point
Victor Sheppard captured the moment his Tundra odometer hit 999,999 miles in February 2016, but he has since surpassed the milestone.

Bye Bye, Baby
Toyota engineers couldn’t help but wonder how a Tundra holds up after 1 million miles on the road and what insights they could learn for future trucks. Sheppard was confident to continue driving his truck, but on May 11 Toyota offered him a better deal: a brand new 2016 Tundra. It’s, coincidentally, his 16th Tundra.

Sheppard’s baby will now be a months-long special project for Mike Sweers, Toyota’s chief truck engineer. And as one of the first Tundras from Toyota’s San Antonio, Texas, plant, the truck is sure to provide engineers with invaluable knowledge moving forward.

Sweers and his team will tear apart the entire truck, bumper-to-bumper, top-to-bottom to evaluate how the quality and safety they engineered and built into the truck has managed to survive years of real-world driving.

“Having a million-mile truck in as pristine condition as this one with original parts is a truly rare find,” Sweers says.

Signing Off
Mike Sweers, Toyota’s chief truck engineer, prepares to take the Tundra back to its birthplace—Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Texas—by signing a message to plant team members: “Thank you for building the best trucks.”

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