Some of the best vehicles that we find out on the trail today are those that have been built by their owners from the ground up. These people really know their rigs. If even the smallest problem arises, they know immediately what to look for and usually how to fix it. There is simply no substitute for the kind of knowledge that comes from wrenching on your vehicle yourself, rather than letting some mechanic do it all for you.
When Tim Kelly started building his '86 Toyota pickup, he already had a couple of buildups under his belt. A frame-up restoration of a '74 Chevy 4x4 at age 14 was the first test of his abilities, and the rigs just kept coming: an '83 Toyota, a Ford Bronco, an '00 Jeep TJ, and finally the '86 Toyota shown here. According to Tim, the Toyota was just a bone-stock ranch truck he bought for $500 and the unenviable job of painting 5 acres of white picket fence by hand.
Initially, Tim replaced the tranny with a stock five-speed, tossed in some new seats, swapped in a straight-axle from an '84 Toyota, and put TRD lift blocks in the rear. He 'wheeled it that way for four years before starting what he calls "the big project." As a sign of his commitment, Tim pulled the truck into his garage, torched the front and rear axles and springs off the frame, and sold them. It was then all or nothing.
Starting with the axles, Tim found a full-width Chevy Dana 60 and filled it with 6.17 gears and an ARB. Using a custom set of 58-inch-long leaf springs, he was able to move the axle forward 3 inches for a much better approach angle. Doing steering duty is a Hy-Steer setup from Trail Tech and a Howe hydraulic assist. In back, Tim swapped in a Dodge Dana 60, along with a set of 3/4-ton springs from a late-model Chevy. To get the proper amount of lift in the rear, Tim designed a drop-shackle mount 6 inches below the frame made of 1-1/2-inch-thick, 0.120-inch-wall tube. To get the chassis rolling, he then bolted on 39.5x18R15 Boggers mounted to 15x10-inch Monster wheels.
Tim was satisfied with the performance of the stock 22R-E motor, so he kept the underhood upgrades to a minimum with a K&N filter, a Jacob's ignition, an ARB compressor, and a Tornado air management system. The '93 Toyota five-speed transmission was also working just fine, so Tim decided to concentrate his time and money on upgrading the transfer case setup. A quick trip to Marlin Crawler was all it took. Tim now runs Marlin's dual cases and has a crawl ratio of 260:1.
To make the Toyota more trail-worthy and to reduce the amount of crunchable sheetmetal on the truck, Tim pulled off the stock bed and built his own custom-designed flatbed. For a little extra flash, he included oak flooring in the bed, reminiscent of vintage trucks. More custom bodywork that really stands out is the doors, which include built-in cupholders.
Inside the Toyota, Tim went for simplicity and comfort. A set of '93 Camaro seats faces a Grant steering wheel and a full set of Auto Meter gauges. With the addition of a Pioneer stereo and a Cobra CB, Tim called it good.
We'd like to think that with this Toyota being as nice a trail rig as it is, Tim will leave well enough alone and just enjoy what he's got. What are the odds? Chances are he'll 'wheel his truck for a while, then go back to the drawing board to flesh out some more ideas. Who could blame him?
|Vehicle:||’86 Toyota pickup|
|Owner/hometown:||Tim and Kelly Miller/ |
Pollock Pines, California
|Transmission:||’93 Toyota five-speed|
|Transfer case:||Marlin’s Ultimate Crawler|
|Frontend:||Chevy Dana 60 with ARB|
|Rearend:||Dodge Dana 60 with ARB|
|Suspension:||Front: Custom leaves; |
Rear: Chevy 3/4-ton leaves
|Tires/wheels:||39.5x18R15 Boggers/ |