Clean bodied 1985 Toyota 4Runner
With the shop being busy as usual, we haven’t posted a build thread in a while. Thought it might be about time to change that. I have been looking for a clean, unmodified first generation 4runner to replace the little blue shop truck. After a long search I purchased this 1985 4Runner off another member of this forum. It was fairly clean, only some minor rust damage in the rear fenders, had low miles (125K), but had an engine in it that had dropped its timing chain. Since it needed the work, the price was right, so I jumped on it.
Here are a few photos of it as I originally found it:
The 4Runner must be in decent condition as it started attracting a lot of attention. People were stopping in to inquire about it. One of those people is a very good friend and client. He was able to convince me that he needed/wanted it more than I did, and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. Then we sat down and figured out a build plan for it based on his budget. He has some pretty lofty (read expensive) goals, so the plan includes a couple different phases that can be completed as funds become available.
Phase 1: Making it road worthy
With the timing chain being broken in the motor, and not knowing the details of the rest of the internals of the motor, we made the decision to pull the motor and replace it with a good running, low mileage motor we had taking up space in the shop. Got the old one out and the new one installed and running in under 4 hours, and even with having to swap engine wiring harnesses around, it was a new shop record for me. But in my haste, I didn’t take many photos. The next morning I was able to run it down to our local Air Care Colorado emissions testing center and got it to pass emissions flawlessly.
Phase 2: Lift, lockers, gearing, armor, and more
With the 4Runner finally running well, we are able to move forward with build. 4Runners offer quite a bit for those looking for a fairly capable rig right from the factory. And some would argue that the 1985 model year would be the most capable of them all as it offered not only fuel injection, a boxed frame, and the normal Toyota ruggedness, but also a highly desirable solid front axle.
Our client’s wish list for this phase includes lift enough to handle 35” tires, with the slight possibility of going to 37” tires at some point. The 4Runner would still need to be able to drive down the road and handle like it did from the factory, if not better. It needed the stock “push/pull” steering upgraded to crossover. He wanted selectable lockers with appropriate gearing front and rear. Wanted custom armor all around, to include both bumpers, sliders, and a simple cage tied to the frame for the front passengers. We took these desires and total budget into consideration when putting together the components list.
We decided to go with Trail Gear’s Classic 4” lift for the front and rear. They offer a fairly complete kit that includes things like IFS steering box mount, shock hoops, axle armor and truss, and complete crossover Hi-steering, as well as new, wider and longer leaf springs all around and all new hangers, shackles, shocks, stainless brake lines, and most hardware needed. Then we would install ARB air lockers front and rear with 5.29 gearing to help move and give traction to the new larger tires.. To all this we would add an IFS steering box, a set of 35” Dick Cepek tires on new FJ wheels, Spidertrax 1.5” wheel spacers all ‘round to finish out the suspension components.
We would then be fabricating a custom plate style front bumper, a custom set of sliders, and a 4 point cage that will be tied into the frame with bushings. And we will be finishing off the armor with a slightly modified rear Trail Gear bumper. And of course we can’t forget to mention that our client wanted us to take care of any and all rust. And he also wanted some custom bedliner work for the interior and lower sections of the body.
Received the first shipment of goods from Trail Gear, lift kits and bumper:
And then the second shipment from them, new loaded 3rd members, arrived shortly after:
With parts finally arriving, we made some room in the shop and brought the 4Runner back in and got it off the ground onto some stands
Just noticed my new favorite accessory of this fine rig. An original Denver Broncos logo sticker on the rear window:
Cool build. I'm super jealous and really missing my SA rig. :bawl: How much did that trail gear kit retail for?
I love it. It's just like mine.
What are your plans for transmission & transfer case?
Tear down begins
We first removed the fabulously 80’s wheels and tires.
Then started removing the original spare tire assembly. The factory chain hoist that holds the spare is still in perfect working order. Amazing, since these are usually locked up, and/or destroyed by rust. Gotta love an original Colorado Car!
Then removed the rear drive shaft and shocks:
Out came the rear axle. Amazing how small these rear's were. Surprising strong for their size as well.
Then we put the rear in full hover mode by removing the rear springs:
And the rear bumper gets removed:
The take-off's pile is getting large already:
Having most of the major components removed from the rear, we begin tear down on the front. First things first, we removed the air box to gain better access to the steering box.
Then the front bumper:
Try to remove the pitman arm from the box:
And since the arm won't budge even with penetrating fluid, we decide to cut the dragink. Then we remove the anti sway bar from the frame.
Removed the box from the frame:
Out comes the front drive shaft:
And the anti sway bar and shocks:
Then removed the front axle assembly:
Front spring hangers need to be removed, so they get cut off with the springs still attached. Then the shackles are unbolted from the frame.
Then we smooth out the the areas of the frame where the front hangers were. Before:
Front axle heads outside to be pressure washed. For as clean as this ride is, the drive train has been completely filthy. The engine was horrible, but the axles are worse. Really need a good bath.
You can easily see the grime that was rinsed off:
Axle drying in the sun:
Then I forklift the axle back in a set it on a rolling work bench:
and get it set up and stands:
And bring it back into the middle of the shop where we will begin it's tear down
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