by Chris Cordes

While it’s hard to beat a vehicle that’s been preserved in stock condition, I do enjoy seeing a classic restored with a modern twist. The capability provided by newer parts mixed with the heritage and simplicity of an older vehicle make for a winning combination when performed correctly. Some of the best candidates for these types of projects have proven to be the early Toyota models like these 1983 Pickups. Known for their robust build and tremendous reliability, these 80s trucks have served as excellent platforms for many travelers, but lack some of the convenience and capability of newer vehicles. The two tastefully modified examples we have found today however, are anything but lacking.

If you’re looking for a run of the mill Toyota, this isn’t it. For starters, a 6.7 liter Chevrolet V8 sits under the hood, replacing the standard 4 cylinder and providing enough power for about any situation. To improve durability and performance in technical terrain the owner upgraded the rear end with a Dana 60 axle, an ARB air locker, and a set of 4.10:1 Dana gears. Moving forward on the truck you’ll find an NV-4500 5 speed transmission distributing power to four 33″ BF Goodrich KM2’s which help provide additional off road traction. To gain some extra clearance and improve the ride, Rancho 9000 adjustable shocks were installed along with a set of custom made National springs. The front of this SR5 was then adorned with a custom bumper housing an 8000lb Warn winch along with 2 Hella Rallye 4000 lights for better visibility. This setup should help you see any obstacle approaching while protecting you in case you don’t. The seller designed this vehicle for overland travel, and with just 29,000 miles and more gear than I can list; I’d say it’s ready for just that.

Check it out on Ebay Motors here:




Here’s a look at what the seller has to say:

Recent Work Complete: 7/28/12

  • - Brand new Headman Headers, Ceramic Coated by swain tech coatings. Receipts included with truck purchase, all new exhaust all the way back, very quite but you know whats under the hood with the low rumble
  • * Valve Cover Gasket, Spark Plugs, Distributor Cap HEI-Style Mallory 32, Rotor
  • * Heat Shield, Spark Plug Wires, Silver
  • * Air Filter relocation kit, simple on road changes
  • * Completely new brakes, stops great
  • * All new sway bar bushings
  • * Dyno Tuned
  • * Synthetic oil
  • * All original paint, no body work.
  • * New spares: Brand new Sanden R134 specific A/C compressor, Drier and Condenser
  • * Tons of spare parts for the truck
  • * Every modified part has a receipt & manual included in the sale, a full box of receipts / manuals….down to the
  • * There are 2 security options on the truck, one hidden in-cab -> shuts all power down. One under the hood –> also shuts all power down
  • * There is a hand written bible for the truck to help with learning about the vehicle, all oil needed, switches and what they do etc….
  • * I absolutely love this truck, its tight, it runs great, its fast, it turns heads, shower system, power welder, holds 25 gal of fuel, drives the highway smooth @ any speed, it crawls at an unbelievable slow speed in LOW LOW LOW, it carries a payload, it sleeps 2 comfortably in the RTT….:-)
  • If you are wondering what the 5 toggle switches do that are custom mounted on the dash:
  • * Dash Switches: the first 3 are for under-body lighting (lights up the road at all 4 corners) 4th is for the air compressor (coupler under-body for running air hose, and ARB rear locker) 5th is to engage the ARB Locker
  • - Dash Controls for bumper mounted lighting
  • - Dash controls for the winch as well as a hand held unit that plugs in under the hood
  • - In-Cab E-management – manual included (see interior picture)
  • Highway Cruiser, Rock crawl ready, camp anywhere you want to go !!
  • Runs drives and performs incredibly well ! needs nothing to hit the road / trail
  • I have treated this truck more as a show vehicle rather than for its intended purpose.
  • This setup has never been abused, tight and drives awesome. everything is basically 1 ton equipped.
  • A/C / Power steering – Cruise Control – Dual Transfer Case – Lockers – Put the cruise control on 75 mph to your favorite camping spot – Roof Top Tent sleeps 2 very comfortably – Winch – Hot Shower – never used Power Welder – air compressor – tons of extra’s – manuals for everything on the truck


Professional built Chevy V-8 small block 400 Stroked (6.7 Liter) with very low miles. Rods are longer than stock at 6-inch length. Edelbrock Pro-Flow Multi-Port Sequential Fuel Injection has keypad in cab for adjustments on the fly. Trick Flo aluminum cylinder heads. Custom Erson cam shaft. Roller lifters and roller rocker arms. Evans waterless NPG+ coolant with total bypass thermostat. Power Steering. Air Conditioning. R & M heat exchanger hot water shower system. Premier Power welder and power supply with 160 AMP alternator, . Tilton High Torque Starter … . Engine temperature runs cool. Quick dis connect hoses that have never been used are included for the shower system, brand new never used power welding cables are included int sale, they have not been used.

Transmission and running gear

NV-4500 5-speed manual transmission with 0.75 overdrive and 5.61:1 first gear. Dual Toyota transfer cases with two shifters, front input shaft heavier 23 splined for torque. J. P. Eater adapter and 2.28:1 gears front case, 4.1:1 gears rear case. Final crawl ratio is 215:1. Dana 60 rear axle, Moser 1.5 inch 35 spline axles. 4.10:1 Dana gears, ARB air locker, Rear disc brakes with E brake, Long traction bars allow for articulation. Toyota stock front axle with Tru-Trac gear proportional locker, disc brake upgrade with Land Cruiser vented rotors and 4-Runner big caliper disc brakes. Toyota Land Cruiser brake master cylinder and clutch master cylinder. Custom-made National Springs on all 4 corners. Rancho 9000 5-way adjustable shocks. Front and rear sway bars with disconnects. Tires are BF Goodrich KM2’s 33×10.5 x15 on land cruiser FJ60 Chrome wheels, Spare is 33×9.50×15. Firestone Ride-Rite air compressor and small tank with pressure regulator to supply ARB locker and to air up tires.


Renuel custom made front bumper ¼-inch steel and ½-inch mounting. Warn 8000-pound winch with dash control switch. Hella Rallye 4000 mounted on bumper, right Corning, left Euro driving. Hella fog lights mounted within bumper. Hella twin trumpet air horn mounted under bumper. Renuel rear bumper ¼-inch steel and ½-inch mounting. Custom rock skids to protect body between tires. Stock 16 gallon gas tank and 13.5-gallon gravity flow to main tank under the spare tire. Audiovox Electronic Cruise Control. Hand throttle on transmission shifter. Diamond Liner spray in bed liner.


For those who prefer to keep things a little simpler, this beautiful pickup may be more your style. It retains most of its original parts but has been upgraded with a couple new additions to give it some updated appeal. The owner started this restoration with a rust free truck minus the bed, which was quickly replaced with a clean one. The vehicle then received a fresh paint job matching the original grey color scheme, as well as powder coating for the skid plates, mirrors, and door handles. The interior was in great shape but received all new carpeting to match the grey upholstery and new paint. After making sure the truck was in exceptional mechanical condition, the modification began. An ARB safari bumper with PIAA 520 lights was fit for additional protection as well as a custom made bumper in the rear. Next a full Old Man Emu suspension was installed including a steering stabilizer, shocks, and springs to improve handling on any terrain. To finish off the build a brand new set of 33″ BF Goodrich KM2 tires were wrapped around ATX Mojave wheels for a tough and effective combination. With a fresh restoration and just under 100,000 miles, this truck could make a great choice for anyone who wants a classic truck with a little modern flare.

Take a closer look on Ebay Motors here:




Here’s a look at what the seller has to say:

The truck was rust free with the exception of the battery box and bed walls. The original owner had this ingenious idea to fabricate panels for the inside of the bed to prevent the single wall bed from being dinged from the inside. Well, the panels were backed by foam and while the bed was completely straight it was also rusted from all the moisture.

After a 6 month search, I located a wrecked 1981 SR5 4×4 long bed with 28,000 original miles. The truck spent its last 25 years tucked away in a body shop after being declared a total loss from a front end impact. I made the 4 hour drive and came away with a near perfect bed.

The truck has one repaint in its original gray.

The engine and transmission are original to the truck.

I’ve made several modifications during my ownership:

  • ARB front bumper (one of the few known to exist for a 1979-1983 Toyota Hilux) – traveled to CA to get the bumper!!!
  • Custom fabricated rear bumper
  • Old Man Emu front springs and shocks
  • OME rear shocks
  • OME steering stabilizer
  • 33X10.50X15 BF Goodrich KM2 tires (5)
  • American Racing ATX Mojave (Teflon coated) wheels – 15×8
  • Black powder coated tool box
  • Stainless bed rail caps (custom fabricated) by local machinist/fabricator with amazing attention to detail (not your run of the mill caps). They actually wrap the back corners of the bed.
  • Custom aluminum shift knob with rubber coated transfer case knob.
  • Battery box also fabricated in stainless and mounted to a stainless section of inner fender (also completed by same fabricator)
  • The carpet was done by a local upholster that performs upholstery/carpet work on high end vehicles.
  • Optima deep cycle battery
  • Hella H4 headlamps with upgraded wiring harness
  • LED turn indicators in the front bumper
  • PIAA 520 driving lamps
  • I rebuilt the entire front end over the course of a month with great attention to detail. Everything is new with the exception of the axle housing and inner axle shafts.
  • All rear brake components are new.
  • I kept the exhaust all stock with exception of the muffler/tail pipe (slightly larger over stock w/Magnaflow muffler offering slightly different sound).
  • I used OEM Toyota parts where possible.
  • Water pump, spark plugs, and misc. other parts are Toyota.
  • I replaced the filters, belts, etc.
  • The interior hasn’t been altered with exception of the carpet being replaced since the original carpet was showing its age in terms of discoloration. I included a picture after the original carpet had been removed.
  • There’s probably a 5/8″ tear in the headliner just above the sliding rear window. This occurred as the sliding rear window was being installed.
  • The truck was repainted in 2011 with all glass removed. All of the door seals were replaced with OEM rubber along with the windshield seal (OEM).
  • I had all of the skid plates professionally powder coated.
  • The gas cap is NOS along with all of the moldings previously mentioned.
  • The mirrors/door handles were powder coated along with the tailgate chains.
  • Stainless fasteners were used on the door sills, tailgate latches, tail gate mounting, plastic vents, and mirrors.
  • The engine/transmission/clutch are in excellent order and consistent with the condition of the pickup.
  • The truck leaks no fluids.

La Aduana: Two 1983 Toyota Pickups

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About the Author: Chris Cordes

Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Chris didn’t receive a real taste of the outdoors until moving to Prescott, Arizona, for college in 2009. While working on his business degree in the Embry-Riddle undergraduate program, he learned to fly and spent his weekends exploring the Arizona desert and high country. He fell in love with backcountry travel and four-wheel drive vehicles, which led him to Overland Journal and Expedition Portal. Chris was immediately hooked by the concept of overlanding, which combines the excitement and adventure of flying with his affection for cars and trucks. After receiving his degree, Chris did a summer internship with Overland International before accepting a full-time position on our team.