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First Gen 4Runner + Lexus V8

Written by  Phillip Jones
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Get Toyota Cruisers & Trucks Magazine on the App StoreHouston Harvey embarked on an unusual journey for swapping the engine in his 1986 4Runner. Instead of a 22RE, he pursued another Toyota engine:  the 4.0 Liter V8, which was utilized in various 1990’s era Lexus vehicles, as well as the LeMans MR2.

The motor was sourced from one of the many Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) import companies in the United States. Imported low mileage Toyota 1UZ-FE motors are available at a price point falling between $500 and $2,000. On eBay, some importers include compression test videos. Harvey found his in the Dallas area for about $800.

“Usually they have everything needed for motor function but a complete harness,” explains Harvey. “In Japan, it's way more expensive to own a car, especially an older one. Fuel is double what we pay. They have highway taxes and must purchase parking permits. Japan's vehicle Inspection is much more strict than here, even cosmetic body damage can fail their inspections. This leads to more people scrapping their vehicles since no one in Japan will buy them, and the parts end up getting shipped to the USA.”

For installation, Harvey had to do some fabrication work, but that was the easiest part. “Wiring the motor was the most difficult because the harness that came with the engine was cut in several places when the engine was removed from the original vehicle. I ended up building a complete custom harness, which led to a lot of troubleshooting.”

The 1UZ-FE maximum factory ratings are 261 HP and 268 lb-ft of torque. Harvey speculates he may be hitting the maximum, or even better. “I'm running a more open intake, headers and straight piped exhaust.”

The transmission also had to undergo a swap. “I swapped in an A340E 4 speed auto transmission from an American SC400. It's very similar to a PreRunner Tacoma transmission, so I was able to use Inchworm's PreRunner adaptor and run my 4.7:1 Toyota gear transfer case behind the Lexus transmission.”

In addition to the engine and transmission swaps, Harvey did a solid axle swap and all of his fabrication. As a technician for 4 Wheel Parts, he is no stranger to working on off-road vehicles.

The Lexus-ish 4Runner made an appearance at Lone Star Toyota Jamboree where Harvey mastered the rock crawling trail with ease. His rumbling engine garnered the attention of attendees at an event where FJ40s are commonly running Chevy V8s. Staying true to the Toyota brand earned him some admiration and praise.

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