Just prior to purchasing the 1985 4Runner, the body went through a recent restoration, so the it was in great shape except for some minor off-roading damage. With 317,000 original miles on the engine, they planned to do a full rebuild. After calculating costs for machine work and parts required to rebuild the motor, Jeff decided it was more cost-effective and beneficial to purchase a long block engine from 22RE Performance.
After an extensive discussion with Jerry at 22RE Performance, they made the decision that the Stage II engine with approximately 120 HP and 140 ft.-lbs. torque was the best option for this project. Jeff recalls his discussion with Jerry: “After my first call with Jerry at 22RE Performance, I knew I found the right group. He asked all the right questions about our expectations, what we planned to do with the truck, and just seemed very interested in making sure their product was a good fit for us.”
Included with the engine purchase was the optional big bore throttle body, which bores the inside diameter 3.5mm larger, has a larger throttle plate, and a smoother throttle shaft inside the bore for better flow. They also added a header from LCE Performance, which matched up well with the Stage II engine. For improved aesthetics, Jeff decided to add powder-coated upper and lower intake manifolds.
One of the goals with this project is to utilize OEM parts as much as possible. Jeff’s philosophy for this is based on his years of experience doing automotive restoration and rebuilds. He notes, “Simply, nothing works better than OEM parts. It just makes the process good so much easier with fewer surprises. It’s not easy to find all the OEM parts needed to rebuild a truck approaching 30 years old. I have an old friend, Fred Fowler at Pat Lobb Toyota in McKinney, TX, who has worked in the Toyota parts group since the early ‘80s and if anyone could help me assemble all the parts, it was Fred.” Jeff and Fred devoted a lot of time combing through the numerous computer drawings of the engine compartment to identify all of the needed parts. Jeff found that a lot of the parts are still available, including fasteners and clamps.
With a nearly 30 year-old truck, the reusable engine components were in need of serious cleaning. Jeff and Blake removed, cleaned, and repainted all of the brackets, pulleys, mounts, power steering pump, and various connectors. This meant cleaning parts individually, which was a tedious, but worthwhile process. The most difficult step was the painting, as it took multiple attempts to learn how to prep and paint brackets and pulleys to achieve a professional look.
For the tailgate, Blake decided he want to install a unique interior treatment. The original tailgate cover was frail and worn, so a treatment was needed. Since Blake plans to use the truck for hunting and fishing, he wanted something more durable than cloth. He decided on a diamond plate. Not only is this solution very durable and pragmatic, it provides a nice touch to the interior aesthetics.
The front seats were in need of a complete replacement. Jeff comments on his search: “After searching online (thanks Yotatech.com), we found a pair of ’92 4Runner seats at a salvage yard for $50.00. They were in remarkable shape because the donor truck had very low miles.” Only problem with the seats was the interior color was wrong. “We needed to find someone that could not only recover all the seats, but also have the knowledge and experience to transfer and rebuild the passenger seat bottom framing from the stock passenger seat. I worked with Andy at Xtreme Upholstery in Denton, TX, and his shop did an amazing job.”
The engine compartment aspect and most of the interior work is completed. The engine is running and the truck is drivable. With the truck sitting on ProComp 35-inch tires, the next step is a new off-road suspension. That will be followed immediately by an off-road test. Blake will likely be the only student at his high school who can proudly say he built his own vehicle. Years from now, he’ll be able to reflect on the fond memories of this family project.
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