After a day playing in the desert, our crew was getting ready to hit the highway when we spotted a cool blue Toyota in the distance. We were able to chase it down, and we’re lucky we did. What we found was Kyle Rhoda’s supercharged Toyota precrawler, made with an eye toward going both fast and slow.
The ’86 truck served a good number of years as a daily driver for Kyle, but over time the engine developed a rather ravenous oil consumption of nearly a quart a day. It was time the aging Toy was taken off the street and turned into something much more interesting.
Much of the sheetmetal was trimmed away and Kyle set about with a bender to turn a pile of DOM tubing into a cage for the mini-truck. A Glassworks Unlimited Ivan Stewart fiberglass body set replaced the factory hood, fenders, and bedsides. Then friend, Jeff Yeager, fogged on a vivid coat of BMW Interlagos Blue paint. These mods would be the gateway to performance mods to the suspension and drivetrain to create a dual-purpose off-road machine.
In place of the stock 2.4L smoker, Kyle massaged metal under the hood to slip in a ’04 Toyota 3.4L V-6 that was salvaged from a Tacoma. Not satisfied with the factory ponies, the V-6 was topped with a TRD supercharger with URD 2.1-inch pulley, and is now commanded from a Haltech computer tuned by Speed Sports in Gilbert, Arizona. Dyno tuning delivered about 300 crank horsepower and 223 hp at the wheels. Doug’s Performance Transmission in Apache Junction, Arizona, built the GM 4L60E auto transmission that was mated to the engine, and it shifts using a full manual valvebody.
Kyle had a goal with the rig. He wanted to be able to cover desert terrain at speed, but also competently tackle some medium rockcrawling. To that end, he installed a Marlin Crawler dual transfer case setup to give him extra low, slow gears.
From there he built a custom long-travel IFS offering 15 inches of travel and a long-travel–linked rear with trailing arms that air out at 24 inches of travel. Of course, he also addressed steering issues with some custom components.
The 35-inch BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain KM2 tires were chosen for an all-around performance rubber and Kyle upgraded the axle components to handle the taller, heavier meats. In the rear, a trussed Currie 9-inch axle with high pinion, ARB-equipped third member was linked in. Up front, the stock Toyota IFS housing was retained and a second ARB air locker used. However, the differential side gears were upgraded to 30-spline gears so they could mate with custom RCV Performance 300M axle assemblies. This combination offers substantial strength gains over the factory pieces, and the Warn locking hubs now serve as the drivetrain “fuse” should the front axles suffer overstress and need a yield point.
We watched as Kyle pushed the modified Toy at speeds across the desert and were impressed by its nimble handling and ability to do some rockcrawling as well. While this truck does get hauled around on a trailer at times, it is no garage queen. It remains fully street legal so Kyle can drive to trails if he wants, and it sees its fair share of time in the dirt. The attempt to build a dual-purpose rig has been met with success, as this one can go both fast and slow.
Vehicle: 1986 Toyota 4WD pickup
Owner/Hometown: Kyle Rhoda/Tempe, Arizona
Engine: 2004 Toyota 3.4L V-6 with TRD supercharger and URD 2.1-inch pulley, custom-built headers, Haltech computer
Transmission: GM 4L60E automatic, full manual valvebody
Transfer case: Marlin Crawler dual-case setup with Toyota turbo transfer case
Front suspension: Custom upper and lower 4130 chromoly a-arms, 3¼ inches over stock, ported Toyota steering box, custom steering rods and idler, PSC 1.5-inch ram assist, 10-inch-stroke 2½-inch King coilover and 3-tube bypass shocks, 2-inch-stroke King bumpstops
Wheel travel: 15 inches
Rear suspension: Custom 4-link/trailing arm suspension, 14-inch stroke 2½-inch King coilover and 16-inch-stroke 3-tube bypass shocks, 4-inch-stroke King bumpstops, custom swaybar
Wheel travel: 24 inches
Front differential: Stock Toyota IFS housing, modified ARB air locker, RCV Performance 300M axle shafts, Wilwood six-piston calipers, Warn locking hubs
Rear differential: Currie 9-inch trussed housing, high pinion third member with ARB air locker, Wilwood six-piston calipers
Tires & Wheels: 35x12.50R17 BFGoodrich Mud Terrain KM2, 17x8 Eagle alloy wheels
Other stuff: Glassworks Unlimited Ivan Stewart fiberglass body parts, 44-inch LED light bar, 41 gallon Fuel Safe fuel cell, Mastercraft seats, Perry’s Fab N Fiber dash, Racepak display, Lowrance Baja GPS, Rugged Radios intercom, Kenwood race radio