1986 Toyota 4Runner Baja Budget Build

zelseman

Observer

Current Photo

Year: 1986
Make: Toyota
Model: 4Runner
Trim: DLX/STD
Transmission: 5-Spd Manual
Engine: 22RE

My wife and I have been searching for a clean-ish 1st gen 4Runner to turn into a full-time travel rig for several years and we finally found what we were looking for. We discovered a love for vehicle based travel while exploring most of the Western US this summer (April-October) in our short bus conversion. You can see all of our posts about that trip and rig on www.okienomads.com, our blog where we post about places and our vehicles. We also have a YouTube Channel that we are working on and will be posting videos there as we progress.

While we were in rural Montana, my father-in-law did us a huge favor and went to check out a 4Runner local to him. He brought it home because it matched all of our criteria for a rig: it was mechanically sound, hadn't been abused too much, and had little rust. He spent much less than most 4Runners in our area are going for on Craigslist and Facebook. These are the photos that we got while we were 1000 miles away:







There are some obvious issues like the yellow accents all over, the bedlinered fenders/quarters, the 100lb. front bumper, and the block-lifted rear end. All of that will be resolved sooner rather than later.

We are home from our 6-months on the road in our Skoolie and now the build for the 4Runner can begin. We will park our school bus for a while and eventually turn it into a tiny house cabin in the woods somewhere. Until then it will rest in the in-laws field for a while. This build will take place over a short period of time as some of the changes have to be done in order to get to Overland Expo East in November and the rest will have to be done before January 1 in order to make the trip to seasonal jobs in LaPaz. I will update this thread with a plan, but as your can see it will need some work, but we are pumped and ready to get into it. First thing is first, remove the bedliner from the fender and quarter panel!
 
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jakegrovephoto

Active member
Subscribed. Interested to see how you guys maximize living space with this.

I’m currently building my 2000 XJ into a camper setup for living in the road and similar amount of space to work with. How much modification are you planning for off-road, or rather keep it more road worthy?
 

zelseman

Observer
I finally got my hands on the 4Runner after returning to Oklahoma from being on the road for a while. My father in law had already gotten started on removing the bedliner that had been sprayed on the fenders and quarters. He tried to sand it and angle grind it, with no success. He ended up using a propane torch and we need to prime them before putting them back on. I wanted to get some BEFORE photos before we start the build, so here they are.







The exterior is imperfect to say the least, and most dents will be filled and the entire truck will be painted Toyota Super White. Plans for the rest of the exterior involve a front bumper and potentially a swing away on the rear bumper. Window tint will be removed and new 10-15% tint will be installed.



The tires are small and don't look to be in the best shape, so we will be swapping them with some 31x10.5x15 AT's that we have laying around. The brakes will get new pads and shoes and the drums and calibers will be painted black instead of yellow. CV boots will be re-greased and replaced.



The interior will be coated with POR15 and bedliner, including the roll-bar (something about all that yellow). We will be fabricating a cover plate for the rear lift gate after we thoroughly clean and grease the rear window parts. We have the interior rear side panels and will be replacing the speakers all around as well. The CD player is not getting power or doesn't work, so I need to look into that too. Anyone know why headlights would work fine, but activating the brights turns the headlights off completely?

The rear will get a wood platform for the fridge slide out and drawers on the opposite side. Behind the front seats will be the house battery, gear storage, and room for the inverter. We will not use the rear seats, but will try to retain the stock mounting points in case we ever want to put them back in.



I think the cheesy Grant wheel will stay for now since it is more comfortable than stock and I don't want to spend money on something that works fine as is.



The engine has been rebuilt and runs really well and there are no plans but to tidy it up under the hood and add a dual battery and a compressor. Someday we might invest in upgrading the cooling system as preventive maintenance.



The roof has a Northwest Overland roof rack that will eventually hold our roof top tent and awning. We plan to drill the holes out and secure them to the inside of the shell with washers and bigger hardware. It seems like a really solid design that will likely get a fresh coat of paint.



The rear suspension needs some attention. The springs are worn and cracked. The block lift is rough and flexes very little. It will be replaced with bilstein shocks, old man emu heavy springs (with bushings and ubolts), and adjustable shackles. We are trying for a slightly higher than stock lift with good ride quality that can handle the weight of our tent and rear cargo area and still flex offroad.

We are planning to get most of this done within the month to be ready for Expo East in Ashville, then we will return for a month before heading to LaPaz to work winter seasonal jobs. This truck will be our home on wheels in Baja and throughout the West when we return to the states. Keep checking back here for updates as parts arrive and I will be posting videos to our YouTube channel of the build and the traveling.
 

zelseman

Observer
Subscribed. Interested to see how you guys maximize living space with this.

I’m currently building my 2000 XJ into a camper setup for living in the road and similar amount of space to work with. How much modification are you planning for off-road, or rather keep it more road worthy?
The XJ has always been high on our list of capable and affordable off-road rigs with classic looks. As of right now the only plans for off-road travel are the front bumper, suspension lift, and tires. About 90% of our off-road travel is forest service two-track so this truck will be more than capable of getting us into the wild safely and in relative comfort.
 

jakegrovephoto

Active member
Subscribed. Interested to see how you guys maximize living space with this.

I’m currently building my 2000 XJ into a camper setup for living in the road and similar amount of space to work with. How much modification are you planning for off-road, or rather keep it more road worthy?
The XJ has always been high on our list of capable and affordable off-road rigs with classic looks. As of right now the only plans for off-road travel are the front bumper, suspension lift, and tires. About 90% of our off-road travel is forest service two-track so this truck will be more than capable of getting us into the wild safely and in relative comfort.
Nice plan. I agree, keep it simple and reliable. Those were my first mods, and best used. A rear would be nice as a tire carrier as well + gas and hilift, freed up a lot of cargo space for me (then again your spare might be below the cab huh?)

Personally I prefer the 4Runner for a more moderately built travel/overland rig and the XJ for a more built up platform. Can’t go wrong with either!
 

zelseman

Observer
Nice plan. I agree, keep it simple and reliable. Those were my first mods, and best used. A rear would be nice as a tire carrier as well + gas and hilift, freed up a lot of cargo space for me (then again your spare might be below the cab huh?)

Personally I prefer the 4Runner for a more moderately built travel/overland rig and the XJ for a more built up platform. Can’t go wrong with either!
Ideally we would like to get a rear swing out with tire, fuel and water on the rear bumper with the option for a hi-lift, but I don't know enough about welding to really tackle it. If funds allow we will try to get the rear bumper done before we leave for Mexico.
 

jakegrovephoto

Active member
Nice plan. I agree, keep it simple and reliable. Those were my first mods, and best used. A rear would be nice as a tire carrier as well + gas and hilift, freed up a lot of cargo space for me (then again your spare might be below the cab huh?)

Personally I prefer the 4Runner for a more moderately built travel/overland rig and the XJ for a more built up platform. Can’t go wrong with either!
Ideally we would like to get a rear swing out with tire, fuel and water on the rear bumper with the option for a hi-lift, but I don't know enough about welding to really tackle it. If funds allow we will try to get the rear bumper done before we leave for Mexico.
Fair enough. Yeah even beyond the welding it would take a good minute to build one solid. I felt I got a decent deal on my jeeps from The Dirtworx so I never bothered with building one. But I think they only make them for wranglers and xj’s.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

dubk_trd

Observer
Nice 1st gen this is one reliable vehicle to build into a great overland vehicle. I myself had many of these fine machine. I would first take care of the cooling system. Even though the radiator looks fine now. New radiator and hoses would keep you safe and free from failure . These 22re are great engines but they do not like to run hot, running a little hot these head gaskets pops easily.
 

zelseman

Observer
Nice 1st gen this is one reliable vehicle to build into a great overland vehicle. I myself had many of these fine machine. I would first take care of the cooling system. Even though the radiator looks fine now. New radiator and hoses would keep you safe and free from failure . These 22re are great engines but they do not like to run hot, running a little hot these head gaskets pops easily.
We have been watching the cooling system and will continue to keep an eye on it. Everything is operating now as it should (knock on wood) and it is hard to justify the cost of new radiator+hoses while building out the other components that don't work. It is on the long term fix list though.
 

zelseman

Observer
We started on some body work and paint for the 4Runner this week. The plan was to repair and prep the fenders, quarters, hood cowl and hood and get them painted to make sure we liked the color and that our backyard paint booth was going to work. Prep was pretty simple as this won't be a show truck, it will be used and driven through tree trails and have plenty of pinstripes. I understand that there are still small dings that we could have put hours of tedious work into, but that's just not our style of build. Function all the way.




We used a fair amount of filler on the rear quarters and had to weld in some new metal on the fenders. All in all, the body work hasn't been that bad for this old of a rig and considering the treatment from the previous owner, we are lucky that the body wasn't worse.

I didn't get photos of the primer going on a couple of days ago. The weather has been crazy in NE Oklahoma for the past few weeks, so when it isn't raining, you paint.

My Father in Law is the painter, I am the assistant, and my wife is the supervisor.


In this photo you can see one of the spare 1st gens in the yard. It will eventually be a build for my Father in Law, but it needs some work and maybe a swap. Also you can see the roof top tent under the tarp to the left...very soon!









And that is how she sits for now. We will let the paint cure and re-install the front end in a couple of days. In the meantime I got started yanking out all of the hack-job wiring that the previous owner added. It was a mess to say the least. The hot-wire coming off of the headlight was for the aftermarket tachometer's illumination wire. There are useless grounds everywhere and a thrown together fog light harness up front that will be gone soon as well. I bet I pulled 30 feet of wire out of the truck in about an hour.

Plans are to re-wire everything that needs it with properly sized wire, soldered connections and heat shrink as well as adding a blue sea fuse box to keep everything organized and safe. The stereo will also need to be rewired as there is not much of a body harness left. Simple enough, just time consuming. Dual batteries are in the future and parts are on order, just trying to figure out where they will fit under the hood.







While the 4Runner is under the knife, we have parked our skoolie conversion and are bumming a vehicle for a couple of months. My uncles spare 3rd gen makes a pretty solid get-around rig. The 3.4 is so nice! We will do a 5VZ swap someday in a 1st gen.



That's all for this weekend, hopefully we will have some suspension parts here on Thursday and can wrench under the 4Runner this coming weekend.
 

battleaxe

Captain Obvious
Great looking truck. I wish I had kept mine.

You may also want to consider a GM 4.3 V6 swap.
- More power
- Parts aplenty
- About just as much work as a 5VZ
 

bkg

Explorer
I've done a 3.8 Buick and a 4.3 GM TBI... *normally* I would disagree with the GM being easier, but since this is a 4-cyl truck, a 5Vze certainly isn't the nearly bolt-in discussion it would be in a 3vze equipped 4runner.
 

zelseman

Observer
Great looking truck. I wish I had kept mine.

You may also want to consider a GM 4.3 V6 swap.
- More power
- Parts aplenty
- About just as much work as a 5VZ
There is currently nothing wrong with the 22RE so we will drive it and maintain it until it dies. When the time comes we will look at what's available. I have looked at the 4.3 swap and I might have to just do a Chevy 350 at that point. I like the idea of keeping a Toyota in this truck.


I've done a 3.8 Buick and a 4.3 GM TBI... *normally* I would disagree with the GM being easier, but since this is a 4-cyl truck, a 5Vze certainly isn't the nearly bolt-in discussion it would be in a 3vze equipped 4runner.
That's the issue we are running into. We would need to find a wrecked 3.4 truck for it to make sense. If one pops up in good shape I am sure my father in law will grab it while we are traveling the world. There is a lot of room left in his yard.
 
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