Box Of Rain - 98 Rav4

CrashBar

New member
When I started looking for a second vehicle I had a few requirements. Most of my “adventurous” travel is by motorcycle or boat, so I did not need anything too extreme. It needed to be able to carry three people, three bicycles and a canoe, and a week’s worth of camping gear. It would have to be capable of dealing with snow and some modest off-road terrain. It also needed to be big enough to sleep one person inside overnight in a pinch, haul a lot of Home Depot goodies, and be able to do some light towing (motorcycle or small boat) occasionally. At the same time it needed to be able to handle once a week commuting (100 mile round trip) when my daily driver needs a break, get decent gas mileage, and be small enough to be parallel parked and deal with city life. Oh, yea, it would have to be cheap while still being reliable, and not a “project” – between boats and bikes and bicycles I have enough of those.

Reliability had me looking at Toyotas right away. I’ve had a few (75 Celica GT, 87 Corolla FX) and I’ve always had good luck). I looked at and ruled out first generation Tacos (capable, but too small on the inside unless you went to the 4 door version, and the frame rust issue scared me), and second generation Tacos (too big unless it is the single cab version). I also drooled over 60 and 80 series land cruisers, but the size and fuel economy ruled them out, plus they all seem to need a head gasket and I didn’t want to go down that road.

All that met in the middle with a first generation Rav4 – looks like a 5/8 scale 80 series land cruiser, rather than the Atomic Cockroach of later generations (which now are undistinguishable from all it’s competitors) Toyota build quality, modest off road ability, economical operating costs. Let’s take a look at how I did….
 

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CrashBar

New member
Time for some modifications

After cruising EBay for a few months I knew I could get a decent example for 5-7K. I eventually found a 98 L model (power windows, cruise, and sunroof) with only 87K miles about 50 miles away. Five Speed with locking center differential really got my attention. Turned out to be a single owner mall crawler, but it had been traded in and passed around a few wholesalers and the mileage was not verified. This seemed to scare off other bidders but I took a shot, and got it for $4,500. After seeing it and the paperwork in person I had no doubt the mileage was correct. A friend drove me down and away I went.

First up, a set of toyota roof bars, got them on ebay. They pop right into the roof mounts.
 

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CrashBar

New member
Stereo and GPS

Stock tape deck came out, CD player went in - 30 minutes of crimping in a new harness, 5 minutes to install. Plus my trusty Garmin GPS
 

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CrashBar

New member
Hitch and Bikerack

One of the advantages of a rear mounted spare and side opening door is the ability to mount 3 bikes and still have easy access inside. I also installed a step in the hitch (parallel parking protection in the city) plus I have a tow shackle as well.
 

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CrashBar

New member
Yes, three bikes and a canoe fit....

The stock toyota roof racks are a bit narrow for my 1930 Old Town Otca wood and canvas canoe. I went back to pads to mount it, but a better solution is coming. With the rear strap removed and the center strap loosened, the rear door is free to open. Try that with a lifting hatch...
 

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CrashBar

New member
cargo basket

For more cargo room and a wider base for carrying the canoe I added a basket, plus I found some NOS floor mats. I also found a cool truck that makes the Box Of Rain look like a monster truck.

Can a Grown man sleep in there....stay tuned.
 

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CrashBar

New member
Eatinh and sleeping

My camp kitchen - built in 1991 to fit between the shock towers in the back of my corolla 3 door hatchback - fits just as well in the Rav4. It is bombproof - 1/2" plywood and dado joints throughout. With this setup it is quite feasable to cook out of the back while travelling.

And with the passenger seat removed (4 bolts, takes about 60 seconds), the front seat slid forward, and a blanket stuffed in the footwell, there is room for a 6' guy to sleep. The view above is right though the sunroof.

Also got an original owners manual off ebay, plus some additional safety / recovery gear.
 

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wallaceg

Observer
Looks great! I've got a newer "atomic cockroach" version (2010 RAV4 V6 4wd) which I've been very happy with so far. Ground clearance is sometimes marginal, but I've always gotten where I need to go. The 2013+ models lost the V6 option, side hinged door, and the full size spare. It's too bad as the 2006-2012 with V6 is a great combination of modest size and good fuel economy with surprising power/capability, which really set it apart from the competition for me (CR-V, Forester, etc).
 

haven

Expedition Leader
The three door hardtop version of the RAV4 is one of my favorite small car designs. It's about 16 inches shorter than your five door, so indoor sleeping for two is probably not going to work.

 

Warn Industries

Supporting Vendor
The three door hardtop version of the RAV4 is one of my favorite small car designs. It's about 16 inches shorter than your five door, so indoor sleeping for two is probably not going to work.

x2. I always wanted one of the two-door models. Drove a used one in 1999 or so; neat little vehicles.

- Andy
 

CrashBar

New member
Box of Rain

Just replaced the tires - they were getting worn and the back had some camber wear. Went with Sumitomo Tour Plus 215 70 16s. Cheap and street oriented but will do for now. I'll do the shocks and struts soon.

I saw the linked buildup, down the road I'd like to go with the EMU suspension and some larger / more agressive tires. I really want a metal skid plate like they had fabbed. The plastic under there now is pretty wimpy. Have not taken it off road but will soon.

I started out looking at the two door soft op Rav4 - very cool - but really tiny inside.
 
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