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1987 Toyota Pickup - The Anti-Feature

Posted in Features on June 11, 2014
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When I bought my 1987 Toyota pickup back in 2001, it was my dream truck. I didn’t have a tow rig or a trailer. My plan was to drive this Toyota pickup everywhere to wheel and camp at all of the places I read about in the pages of Petersen’s 4-Wheel & Off-Road. Now, 13 years later, I’ve taken the truck over some of the toughest trails in California, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada. It has the usual mini truck parts like Marlin Crawler dual transfer cases, a solid front axle, crossover steering, and lockers front and rear. It also has some more unusual modifications like a turbocharged engine, an Xtra Cab on a short-wheelbase frame, and the minty-green paint job that makes people do a double take.

While I am happy with how the Toyota pickup works, with the luxury of hindsight there are a lot of things I would do differently if I had it to do over again. I feel it is valuable to share my most and least favorite aspects of my truck with you so that you can learn from my mistakes. Have something you wish you did different on your 4x4? Let us know at

To maximize bed space, Stoffregen Motorsports mounted a Delta truck box that was modified to fit a Powertank inside for security. The fullsize spare was stood up in a custom cradle and sunk into the bed for better visibility. Anchor plates from Mac’s Tie Downs hold the Coleman cooler, Wedco fuel can, and Zarges case securely in place. Under the bed a Ford E-150 fuel tank was fitted between the rear framerails. While the ground clearance is great, fuel pump reliability has not been so, with pumps going out every two years on average. I wish I kept the factory Toyota tank.

Tech Specs
1987 Toyota Pickup

Engine: 22RTE 4-cylinder with Megasquirt EFI
Transmission: R151F 5-speed manual
Transfer case: Dual Toyota with Marlin Crawler adapter and Advance Adapters 5:1 Trail Tamer gears
Front Axle: Narrowed Dana 44 with 5.38 Superior gears, Detroit Locker, Superior chromoly axleshafts, Longfield U-joints
Rear Axle: Diamond Axle housing with 5.29 Precision gears, Detroit Locker, Poly Performance chromoly axleshafts, All-Pro disc brakes

Springs & Such: Trail Gear 4-inch leaf springs and Poly Performance BBCS shocks (front and rear)
Tires & Wheels: 37x12.5R17 BFGoodrich Krawler KX on 17x8.5 Walker Evans Racing beadlocks
Steering: Tapped factory Toyota box with PSC pump, reservoir, and hydraulic ram
Other Stuff: Off Road Solutions rollcage, Corbeau seats, Tuffy console, iPod-controlled stereo, Optima RedTop battery, bobbed bed, custom bumpers, Warn M8000 winch, Ford E-250 fuel tank, Front Range Off Road transfer case crossmember and skidplate

Suspension consists of Trail Gear leaf springs and Poly Performance BBCS shocks at each corner. Sometimes I dream about putting coilovers and a three-link on the front, but it is hard to justify the expense and downtime when the leaf springs just plain work. The tires do rub the springs at full lock; if I had it to do again I would have made the axle 64 inches instead of 60 so I could run off-the-shelf axleshafts and ditch the wheel spacers.
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