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1984 Toyota Trail Toy Resurrection

Posted in Features on September 7, 2016
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One trend we are seeing more often is the rehashing of older four-wheel drives. More specifically, we see people scooping up good deals on half-built or broken-down rigs and turning them into the wheeling machines they should be.

Bryan Shinn of Garner, North Carolina, found this 1984 Toyota pickup already fit with a handful of good parts, but it was far from the trail rig it is today. With a few builds under his belt, Shinn saw the potential of a great low-buck wheeler.

After buying the truck, he consulted with friend and shop owner Kevin Short of Kevin’s Custom’s & Off-Road in Willow Springs, North Carolina. The two decided that with a little TLC and component upgrades, the Toyota could be built to tackle nearly any trail Shinn wanted in the southeast. Better yet, he would have less than the cost of a new side-by-side in the entire rig. While it is still considered a work-in-progress, the truck regularly sees trail action.

We caught up with Shinn during a shakedown run in Uwharrie National Forest. He recently added on a fully hydraulic steering kit from PSC Motorsports and wanted to give it a quick workout. From what we saw, the propane-powered trail toy looked to be working just fine.

Tech Specs
1984 Toyota Pickup


Engine: 4.3L V-6
Transmission: W56 5-speed manual
Transfer Case: Trail-Gear 4.7:1
Front Axle: King-pin Dana 60, welded spider gears, 5.38 gears
Rear Axle: GM 14-bolt, welded spider gears, 5.38 gears


Springs & Such: Jeep Wagoneer front spring, 63-inch Chevy rear springs, Skyjacker front shocks, Fox 2.0 rear shocks
Tires & Wheels: 42x15R15 Interco TSL on 15x12 steel beadlock
Steering: PSC Motorsports fully hydraulic with double-ended ram
Other Stuff: Propane injection; custom rollcage, dash, sliders, and tire mount; bed bobbed 12 inches

Replacing the original four-cylinder engine is a 4.3L Chevy V-6. To mate the V-6 to the W56 transmission, an adapter from Advance Adapters was used. The line you see routed to the top of the air breather is for the propane conversion. Propane remains a popular setup among those looking to move away from a traditional gasoline-fed carburetor configuration.
Up front you will find a 1-ton kingpin Dana 60 front axle, which is secured in place by a set of Jeep Wagoneer leaf springs. To make sure there are no issues steering the fully locked frontend, a double-ended hydraulic steering system from PSC Motorsports was fabricated in place.
Behind the five-speed manual transmission is a Trail-Gear transfer case with 4.7:1 low-range gearing. Coupled with the 5.38 differential gears, the truck can crawl with relative ease on the trail.
The 63-inch Chevy leaf-spring conversion and GM 14-bolt rear axle are two of the best bang-for-your-buck upgrades you can find. Aside from a disc-brake conversion and a new gearset, the 14-bolt remains mostly stock. Like the front, the differential spider gears were welded to create a low-buck, spool-type locker.
To make sure Bryan Shinn and his passenger stay safe, Kevin’s Customs & Off-Road fabricated a full interior rollcage from 1.75x0.120-wall DOM tubing. JEG’s High Back Sport Seats were also added, as was a Speedway Digital gauge setup.
Fitting a 42-inch-tall spare tire inside of a Toyota pickup bed that has been bobbed 12 inches is a big ask. To achieve the goal of a fullsize spare, along with having room for his propane tank and spare toolbox, a custom mount was made to allow the tire to stand upright.
Given that the truck sees plenty of mud and rock in the Southeast, a 42x15R15 Interco TSL was Shinn’s tire of choice. To get more bite out of the oversized rubber, a set of 15x12 steel wheels was converted with a weld-on beadlock conversion kit.
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