The first Toyota Hilux Double Cab was manufactured from 1984 up to 1998 was legendary for good reason. It was the first ever double cab offered in South Africa and it took years for the first competitor to offer a double cab too. It was also the last of the 4x4 Hiluxes with a solid front axle. The next Hilux that was made until 2004, had independent front suspension and while the ride was better, it was not as capable and tough. Still, it is a great and reliable buy.
Hiluxes are generally known to last well. It was the best selling bakkie for many years in a row and as a result, there are still a lot of them on the roads. Since this vehicles also shared the chassis of the Hi-Ace mini bus, they are even today, high on the theft and hi-jack list. If that is a major consideration for you, buy something else.
In terms of off road ability, the twin solid axles does put it in a another class compared to any of the other brands, or later model Hiluxes.
Initially, the Hilux was offered with a 2.2 Petrol motor and later with the 2.4 Petrol motor. The petrols are still by far the most common models to find, but eventually it was offered with the 2.4 diesel and later the 2.8 diesel motor too. Naturally, the petrols are thirsty and the diesels being normally aspirated, very under powered.
If you are looking for the Hiluxes, make peace with it that your chances of finding a diesel is almost none and if you insist on diesel, you better need luck and patience - both in finding one and making progress on the road.
Due to the popularity of Hiluxes, they still have much better second hand value as any of it's competitors and it is hard to find a Hilux that will offer great value for money. In fact, with these vehicles one needs to be particularly cautious as sellers just ride on the reputation and often manage to sell a pretty tired vehicle for too much.
If you find a Hilux in good condition at a good price, put it on your shortlist and don't waste too much time when you want to check out other vehicles.