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  • JP Magazine
  • Dirt Sports + Off-Road
  • 4-Wheel & Off-Road
  • Four Wheeler

1985 Toyota Pickup Mini Truck With Strong Bones

Posted in Features on May 26, 2015
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When you run trails for a long time, you come to a better comprehension of the exact vehicle you’d like to tackle your favorite terrain with. Symon DeVries cut his teeth wheeling the forests in the state of Washington 25 years ago, but now calls the desert and mountain trails of Arizona his stomping grounds. Over the years he has refined the Toyota truck you see here to help him negotiate the kinds of rock trails he enjoys.

The factory bed has morphed into a custom dove-tailed structure fabricated mostly from tubing, then also covered in plastic race-car sheeting. The bed holds another 37-inch tire as a spare, and a custom toolbox under the tire carries tools and spare parts on the trail. The dual Optima batteries also reside in the bed to improve weight distribution, and a bed-mounted CO2 tank is available for inflation needs. Since the truck is also driven on the street, Symon fabricated a pair of custom rear quick-release fenders/mud flaps to keep the law off his tail. While on the trail, they pin in place around the spare tire as shown here.

What he has ended up with is a slightly stretched 1985 Toyota pickup with an Xtra Cab sitting on a modified standard-cab frame. He wanted to achieve a 105-inch wheelbase, a length that settles right in the sweet spot for Southwestern rock wheeling. The extended cab gives him comfortable inside space, and he has a shortened bed still capable of supporting a 37-inch spare tire, spare parts, and tools, plus room to carry weekend camping items.

The factory drivetrain is no longer intact. Now, a Chevy 6.0L V-8 feeds a 700R4 four-speed automatic and GM 203/Dana 300 combination transfer case. The resulting setup provides speed, torque, and go-slow gearing to a pair of fully built Dana 60 axles. Wrap it all together with linked suspensions front and rear and you’ve got a highly capable wheeling rig. Possibly the perfect Toylet?

Popping the modified hood reveals why the bonnet has been modified to bump up in the middle of the sheetmetal. Underneath lies a 2003 Chevy LS4 6.0L V-8. Owner Symon DeVreis swapped it in using a Jim’s Performance computer and harness converted to drive-by-cable. The stock V-8 expels hot gases through LS7 exhaust manifolds, which feed a single 3-inch Flowmaster muffler. Cooling upgrades include a Ron Davis two-row aluminum radiator and a pair of Spal electric fans. The transmission is a GM 700R4 with a lockup converter that feeds a GM NP203 crawl box and a twin-stick–equipped Jeep Dana 300 transfer case.

Tech Specs
1985 Toyota Shortbed PU

Drivetrain Engine: 2003 GM 6.0L V-8
Transmission: GM 700R4
Transfer case: GM NP203 crawl box, Jeep Dana 300
Front Axle: Narrowed Dodge Dana 60, 5.38 gears, Detroit Locker, Yukon shafts, Longfield Super Joints, Yukon hubs
Rear Axle: Currie RockJock Dana 60, 5.38 gears, Detroit Locker, 35-spline shafts, disc brakes

Springs & Such: Custom 3-link, Jeep TJ Rubicon Express lift coils, Fox 4-inch bumpstops, Rancho 9000 shocks (front); homebrew double-triangulated 4-link, Jeep TJ Rubicon Express lift coils, Rancho 9000 shocks (rear)
Tires & Wheels: 37x12.50R17LT Pitbull Rocker Radials mounted on 17x9 Robbie Gordon beadlocks
Steering: Saginaw steering box with PSC hydro-assist
Other Stuff: Xtra Cab swap, dove-nosed front and tail with tubular fender structures, custom bumpers and cage work, tube doors, hidden spares storage, Warn M8000 winch, rock lights

Custom steel work is laced throughout this Toyota, including both bumpers and a frame-connected bed cage built from 11⁄2x1⁄8-wall DOM tubing. Rock sliders use the same type tubing, but in 1⁄4-inch wall thickness.
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