La Aduana: 1987 4×4 Toyota Turbo Sunrader

Expedition Portal’s own Christian Pelletier has a sixth sense––the ability to find the coolest vans and campers available for sale anywhere in the world. His most recent find is one of his best. This 1987 Toyota Turbo 4×4 Sunrader has less than 100,000 miles and has been carefully restored and upgraded. Sitting on dualies, the Sunrader camper appears to be in great nick and the owner seems to have gone to great lengths to maintain the core mechanics of the truck. And, as we prefer, it’s on the far left coast. Fly, buy, and head east!




From the eBay listing:


Sunrader made only an estimate 25-30 of these 4×4 fiberglass overhead / passthrough campers from 1985-88.  This is a factory Turbo (22RTE), of which they made maybe 4 ever.  This one does have the upgraded 6 lug rear axle.  Here is the story, visit a website called Toyota motorhomes and check the 4×4 link (EBay won’t allow me to link directly to it in this posting).  This is as close to original/stock as it gets, and with less than 93K on it, it won’t need much besides oil changes to go wherever you want to go.  Sleeps 4 comfortably, fully self contained:  3-way fridge (propane, elec., 12V), forced air heater with thermostat, 4-burner propane stove with oven, rear dinette with huge window, shower, toilet (your lady with thank you), 4 low, 4 high, good clearance, great style.   


**please do your research online, I’ve included all details here** 


This is a rare and incredibly capable adventure machine.  The turbo really makes it zip.  I’ve taken this over a lot of mountain passes, some 11000+ feet, and the curves slow you down well before the engine will, though it corners and sidehills amazingly thanks to the dualies in back.  This is near the end of the 22 series engine’s life in US-imported trucks, which means it is a very mature engine, known for regularly going well into and beyond the 300,000 mile range with little more than oil changes.  4×4 RV’s in general are hard to come by, the only factory (non-custom-build) competition really being maybe Sportsmobiles or VW Syncros both of which are… well, neither of which are as unequivocally reliable as 4×4 Toyota / 22R series.  And both of which come with major price tags, search to see what you’ll get for your money here vs. there.  Below are the specs for you to see what the turbo adds to the picture, as compared to the more common versions of the 22R.  I don’t know why you’d need a turbo in a normal pickup, but when you’re pulling around your house, its nice to have.


22RTE (turbocharged) 135 hp (101 kW) at 4,800 rpm and 173 lb·ft (234 N·m) at 2,800 rpm

22RE (fuel injected) 112 hp (84 kW) at 4,600 rpm and 142 lb·ft (192 N·m) at 3,400 rpm  

22R (carbureted) 97 hp (72 kW) at 4,800 rpm and 129 lb·ft (174 N·m) at 2,800 rpm


I bought this from the original owner 5 years ago, and have put 20,000 miles on her.  She is a great rig.  Cruises down the freeway just fine, and really shines if you want to explore the road less travelled.  With the 4×4 low plus the dualies, you can take this rig literally anywhere.  Just drop her in 4 low, turn the hubs, and crawl up, down, or across a cliff if you want.  I’ve taken good care of her, and I think she’d be happy to take you down to Tierra del Fuego and back if you ask nicely.  


I’ll tell you everything I’ve done to keep her running strong, as well as the few imperfections.  Yes, this is not a perfect machine, just (in my opinion) a near perfect design in front and back, and a 25 year old Toyota truck/RV that has been very well taken care of.  

Brand new (done at current mileage):

Valve adjust / valve gasket replace

6 new upgraded 8-ply (LT) tires from Les Schwabb ($900), new metal valve stems on rear

Smog (August) indicated less than 6 ppm CO, incredibly clean

New fluids in f/r differential, transmission / transfer case

New Trojan deep cycle rear battery ($100)

New front / truck battery

New steel muffler / tail pipe

New clutch master & slave (@90K)

Front Brakes (@80K)

Rear Upgrades:


All top vents / seals replaced and/or resealed in Sept

Fantastic fan installed, 3-speed, thermostat, in/out flow

Onboard propane tank–new fill valve and regulator installed, tank inspected/tested/approved

Replaced shag carpet on floor with new subfloor and 15-yr guarantee vinyl, wood grain look, clean

New kitchen faucet with telescoping neck / head (great for small sink)

Shower faucet / key plumbing replaced

Icebox springs replaced

Toilet valve replaced


Imperfections (I will list all):

A/C doesn’t work, but fan / heat work great

Running lights (top of RV) don’t currently work, should be easy fix

Clutch is sometimes sticky going into first, my Toyota mechanic who specializes in older Toyotas assured me clutch is strong, thinks there’s just some gunk in the tranny fluid, hence fluid change.  More than welcome to get a second opinion if it concerns you.  To put this in perspective, a brand new clutch would probably run you about $150parts+$500 labor if you have someone do it.  

Minor water damage visible on some panelling around the large rear window, and underneath emergency exit widow.  Will include photo of each.  Have sealed up running lights and ladder attachment in rear, and no moisture since.

Sm dent in hood, as when I got it.  Small paint imperfection on hood, which I had touched up.  Hood looks fine, just not perfect.

Inside step needs a little mat or grate in my opinion  

Stovetop cover hinge is broken on one side, functions fine

Windshield has big crack, will try to replace before you pick it up


Pick up in Portland, OR.

That is it.  Chances are that you won’t see another 4×4 Turbo Sunrader for sale ever.  I’d love to buy this one back from you someday, so take care of her and have as much fun as I have.

Sunrader on eBay Motors

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Christophe Noel is a journalist from Prescott, Arizona. Born into a family of backcountry enthusiasts, Christophe grew up backpacking the mountains and deserts of the American West. An avid cyclist and bikepacker, he also has a passion for motorcycles, travel, food and overlanding.