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Classified Tech: 1992 Toyota Extra Cab 4x4 Pickup

Posted in Features on September 1, 2012
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“No one gets there alone.” This is an overused cliché, but the quest to build a dream truck is seldom a solo undertaking.

For Scott DeCurtis, the quest goes back a long way. “As a young kid, my father had a 1984 Toyota 4Runner that he originally bought off the lot that same year,” DeCurtis relates. “All through my teenage years, it was ingrained into my head that there was no better engineering or reliability than Toyota. When I saw the early ’90s body style of the Toyota pickups I decided I wanted one for my first truck.”

Even though the dream was clear, it had to wait in line to become reality. College came first. Eventually, Scott finished his studies and landed a good job that gave him the funds to buy the truck he’d been pining for.

The ’92 Toyota 4x4 pickup was stock when he got it, but it didn’t stay that way for long. “I started building it about five months after I bought it,” Scott states. “It’s taken me a little over three years to get it to this point.”

Scott started out by finding and purchasing a secondhand Total Chaos Gen 2 Caddy Kit. The Gen 2 Caddy Kit deletes the factory torsion bars and uses coilover shocks instead. Scott’s friend Mikey Liakos helped him build a custom steering heavy-duty system that uses brass bushings and Heim joints instead of the factory nylon bushings and ball joints. If you’re not up to fabbing your own steering system, Total Chaos offers its own heavy-duty King Kong steering system to go with its “Caddy” line of Toyota long-travel kits.

Even though his new job let him write bigger checks than before, Scott remained thrifty and resourceful during his truck’s buildup. “I spent a lot of time looking through the classified ads,” he told us. “I found my Total Chaos long-travel frontend and my Sway-A-Way shocks in the classifieds. The same goes for the rear axle: it’s originally from a Toyota T-100.”

Although purchasing the truck was done by Scott and Scott alone, the buildup involved multiple friends. “We get together and work on each others’ trucks,” DeCurtis said. “It’s easier to get a truck prepped when there are more people and more tools to go around.”

The 2.5-inch-diameter, 8-inch stroke Sway-A-Way coilover shocks work in concert with a pair of matching two-tube Sway-A-Way bypass shocks to control twelve inches of wheel travel. Fully functional four-wheel drive is made possible by using T-100 axle shafts which are longer than the factory shorties.

Custom fabrication abounds on this Toyota, and it comes courtesy of Scott and his friends. This effort has created the engine ’cage, the bedcage, a custom spectating rack, rear shock mounts, and a host of other custom touches. Scott got tired of forgetting to bring beach chairs along on off-road trips, so he permanently mounted a pair of bass boat chairs in the bed. This isn’t the first truck we’ve seen bass boat chairs in, but we’re happy to point it out more than once because it’s a slick way to make life easier and more fun when you’re in camp or are spectating at a desert race.

The engine cage ties into the front bumper and skidplate. This lays the foundation to tie into a cab cage when the time is right.

DeCurtis and friends call themselves the Desert Miles Crew. “We like to go and cover as much ground as we can,” Scott reveals. “Why go to one place and hang out when you can do several hundred miles and explore with some of your best buds? There is nothing like being out in the middle of nowhere, away from the population and city.”

Not all the dots are connected on this truck. There’s an engine cage and a bedcage, and they need to meet in the middle. It’s time for a cab cage to tie everything together. Built the wrong way, a cab cage makes it crowded inside an otherwise spacious truck. Low-hanging tubes cause headaches when you smack your cranium against them. That won’t happen here. Scott and the Desert Miles Crew will get it done in clean fashion and for low bucks. Bargains and buddies build a better Toy.

PhotosView Slideshow


Vehicle: 1992 Toyota Extra Cab 4x4 pickup
Owner/Hometown: Scott DeCurtis/Redondo Beach, California
Engine: Toyota 3.0 V-6 with 140-amp alternator, K&N Cold-Air Intake, Magnaflow exhaust
Transmission: Toyota R150F five-speed
Transfer Case: Toyota chain-driven V-6 version with 23-spline input
Front End: Total Chaos Gen 2 Caddy Kit, Sway-A-Way coilover and bypass shocks, custom heavy-duty steering linkage by Mikey Liakos
Rear End: T-100 axle housing, Deaver spring packs, Ruff Stuff Specialties spring plates and U-bolts, custom 12-inch shackles and custom lower shock mounts
Ring and Pinion: 5.29:1
Front Differential: Locker (brand not specified)
Rear Differential: Eaton Detroit True Trac limited slip
Wheels/Tires: Mickey Thompson Classic II, 16x8/Mickey Thompson Baja MTZ 315/75R16

The rear ’cage work integrates shock mounts, spare tire mounts and an above-the-cab cargo/spectating rack.

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