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1985 Toyota Pickup - Green Meanie

Left Front Angle
Jay Kopycinski | Writer
Posted January 1, 2011

A Blown Propane Toy

Cary Gleason has had this truck for a long time. This '85 Toyota dates back to his high school days in Pennsylvania when it was but a gentle 2WD. He moved across the country and moved much of the Toy over a 4WD chassis. He also dropped in a Chevy 350 with a turbocharger, ingesting propane for fuel. It spent time running the streets of Phoenix, with an occasional visit to the drag strip.

Over time Cary grew weary of the small-block V-8. It was just too heavy for the rig, and he wanted something different. A '99 Tacoma drivetrain garnered in a parts trade had set the new project in motion. Out came the Chevy engine and in went the Tacoma 3.4L V-6, sans wiring harness and any sort of engine controller.

You see Cary has a bit of a passion for propane power. With past experience retrofitting propane conversions to municipal vehicles and being the owner of, he knows his way around a barbeque gas bottle.

Cary planned to run the Tacoma motor on propane, and he topped it with a Toyota Racing Development (TRD) supercharger to boot. Cary cautions that such a conversion is fully custom and not something his company supplies. Emission compliance is often not possible in many states.

A bed-mounted liquid-propane tank feeds fuel to a regulator unit under the hood and the gas is mixed with incoming air prior to entering the supercharger. Since the air/fuel mixture is done before the blower, no electronic control is needed to monitor and adjust the mixture, greatly simplifying the system. So, as we mentioned above, none of the complex Tacoma engine harness or electronics are used.

An Electromotive XDI stand-alone ignition system handles all the spark chores and is completely adjustable. Cary mounted a magnetic pickup on an aluminum mount on the front of the engine. It works with a trigger wheel mounted to the crank pulley to sense the crankshaft position and signal the coils to fire at the appropriate time.

When it came time to handle all the various details of the engine swap, Cary worked from several piles of parts to mate everything together. He had the original '85 parts, 3.0L V-6 parts, and 3.4L V-6 parts. The cooling system, air conditioning, starter wiring, etc. were adapted as needed.

A '88 Toy 5-speed tranny mates to the engine, followed by its matching transfer case. Much of the rest of the drivetrain is near stock '85 vintage parts. Gears remain 4.11:1 and the swapped-in wider IFS rear axle is aided by a Detroit EZ Locker. A Toy IFS steering box has been swapped onto the frame and All-Pro Off Road crossover steering added to proficiently turn the bigger meats.

Suspension consists of hybrid leaf packs front and rear, with added lift shackles. Pro Comp 3000 shocks ride on All-Pro Off Road shock hoops up front and stock mounts in the rear.


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