Toyota Buys Victor Sheppard’s Million Mile 2007 Toyota Tundra
Going the Distance
After 9 years and 1,020,130 miles, Victor Sheppard is reluctantly passing along his ’07 Toyota Tundra to the only buyer who could wrestle the truck from him: Toyota. If Toyota didn’t come calling for the truck, this rather inconspicuous-looking (considering the mileage) pickup would still be on the road.
“I could put another 20,000 miles on it right now,” Victor said. “I love that truck.”
The Magic Moment
When Victor first bought the truck, he told General Manager Ron Weimer of Greg LeBlanc Toyota (the dealership who sold it to him and has all the service records on it) he was going to put a million miles on it. Ron played along and said, “OK, if you reach a million miles, we will be there right along with you,” never really thinking it would happen.
As the days, months, and years went by, Ron kept an eye on Sheppard’s Tundra. It soon passed 200k, then 300k, and got media attention when it passed 667,000 and was on display at the State Fair of Texas. Victor wasn’t done and the miles kept coming.
Victor knew he was getting close to the milestone and kept in contact with Ron.
“One day I was driving and the truck’s odometer hit 999,999 miles,” Victor said. "I kept waiting for it to turn over, but it didn’t and I knew I had gone more than a mile. I brought it into LeBlanc to have it inspected.”
After inspecting the truck, they found nothing wrong with it. The odometer just didn’t have a way to track any more miles. Instead, Victor started using the trip odometer to keep track.
Chief Engineer’s First Look
Taking in a truck with more than a million miles isn’t your typical used-truck transaction. Toyota flew in corporate team members such as Mike Sweers, chief engineer for the Tundra and Tacoma, while Gulf States Toyota representatives were on hand. Greg LeBlanc Toyota literally rolled out the red carpet, hired a band, a caterer, and even brought in a bounce house to celebrate the milestone.
The night before at a private party, Mike got his first chance to look over the truck, and he didn’t hesitate, starting with the interior and driver seat. After this many miles, and the fact Sheppard stands well more 6 feet tall and has broad shoulders to match his frame, one would assume there would be some extensive wear and tear on the seats. This simply wasn’t the case. Sweers pushed down on the fabric and checked out the underside the best he could. As he did, the former interior engineer came away pleased with how the seats held up.
“With that much time in the seat, I can’t wait to remove them and inspect the seat rails,” Mike said. “I’m really curious to see how things held up.”
Next, Mike popped the hood and inspected the engine bay looking for engine gasket leaks, hoses condition, and the overall state of the 4.7L V-8. Incredibly, it was quite clean for a truck with this many miles on it.
Mike continued to inspect the truck looking around the sides and towards the back. Incredibly, there is a small blemish here or a dent there, but this truck doesn’t give the impression at all it has that many miles on it.
Every Dent Tells A Story
Remarkably, Victor knows every dent and where it came from directly from memory and each one has its own story.
“You know how that skidplate got dented?” asks Victor. “I hit one of those small traffic cones on the highway after I couldn’t get out of the way because another car was next to me.”
“You see this other dent?” Victor asks again. He continues to describe each one and how it happened. After the many hours behind the wheel and the care and attention he has given this truck, Sheppard knows every inch of his truck and how it should perform since this truck is his “Beast.” He has become quite attached to it and reluctantly agreed to part with it.
Toyota Approaches Sheppard
The story on how Toyota found the truck is also a pretty incredible and one that was retold several times during the event. It all really started with a Facebook post we saw, which turned into a news story on trucktrend.com. The Facebook story got us in contact with the dealer and Victor. Prior to our news story going live, the dealer says the post got some traction, but it wasn’t that much. Once it went live, however, it couldn’t keep track of the notifications and they had to turn off their phones at night with messages coming in worldwide at all hours of the day.
Both Nancy Banks, Toyota senior manager strategic planning, and Victor Vanov, external affairs/corporate communications specialist, read the story at about the same time and immediately realized they wanted to do something. Banks called Mike to see if he wanted the truck and got an immediate yes. Then, she called Bill Fay, Toyota Group vice president and general manager, to see if he wanted to buy the truck. Bill said if Mike wants it, then they will buy it.
Next, the team had to convince Victor to give up the truck. Ron called Victor to discuss selling it to him and at first Sheppard was good with it. The next day, Ron says Victor called back with cold feet about losing his baby and getting a free truck for nothing.
“One thing about me is if people know me, they know I don’t feel like I am owed anything,” Victor said. “If Toyota hadn’t offered to buy that truck, I would still be driving it.”
Shortly after, Toyota called Victor up for an interview and the deal was negotiated to swap trucks.
Incredibly, the swap isn’t as lopsided as one would think. Looking up the value on the truck, Toyota staff figured up it to be worth $8,000. This is quite the retained value on a truck when you also consider it had an MSRP of $26,850 new in 2007.
With the truck in the company’s possession, Toyota plans to bring it down to their San Antonio, Texas, production plant before hauling it up to Michigan to tear it down. Mike says he wants his team to tear it down completely and really examine all the nuts and bolts on it to see what they can learn to use on future production development.
Meanwhile, Victor gets a ’16 Toyota Tundra Double Cab Limited to drive from now on. While Sheppard is excited to see what the new truck will do, he is going to miss a few things about the old truck like his six-disc CD changer and the size of the cup holders.
“My 32-ounce Gatorade fit in the cup holder on the old truck, but it won’t fit in the new one,” Sheppard said matter-of-factly.
At the end of the presentation, Sheppard sat in the “Beast” one last time. Fighting back tears, he reminisced over the many miles they shared together.
Then, just like that, he climbed out, the party was over, and a new journey to put a million miles on the new truck began.