Of all the automotive hobbies, the off-road sector has some of the most ingenious people. Just look around on a given trail ride at all of the incredible DIY builds and one-off fabrication. When it comes to building a vehicle that doesn’t have a lot of aftermarket support, the ability to think creatively can come in extremely handy. Take Robert Wyrick’s ’01 Toyota Sequoia for example.
While the fullsize SUV might be the least-likely Toyota 4x4 for the average off-road enthusiast to build, it actually brings a lot to the table. Fit from the factory with a healthy V-8, ample room for cargo, and decently sized wheelwell openings, the body-on-frame Sequoia has good bones. Robert not only saw the potential, but his day job at the local auto salvage yard gave him access to some heavy-duty components that he would need to transform his Toyota into the solid-axle SUV it is today.
We caught up with Robert on the Sequoia’s maiden voyage. Despite it being the solid-axle SUV’s first time in the dirt, it worked great. Robert states there are still a few tweaks and upgrades to be done, but for now, he can enjoy the machine around his home state of North Carolina. Another fun fact: Robert has a stock Sequoia nearly identical to this one.
Powering the 1/2-ton SUV is the stock 4.7L V-8. Aside from a K&N cold-air intake and Gibson headers, the engine remains untouched. Helping to keep the Toyota starting and powering his auxiliary electrical components is an Optima RedTop battery.
From the factory, the Sequoia comes with an independent front suspension. With Robert’s wheeling goals, the stock IFS wasn’t going to be up to task. The DIY solid-axle conversion uses Ford Super Duty rear leaf springs to secure a high-pinion Dana 60 front axle. Before going under the SUV, the frontend was fit with new slotted-and-drilled rotors, a Lock-Right locker, and 5.38 differential gears.
Controlling the custom crossover steering setup is a gearbox from an IFS Toyota truck, which was included with the Trail-Gear steering kit. For added strength, the framerails were plated and custom shock towers reinforced. Speaking of shocks, those Fox 2.5 internal bypasses were pulled directly from the rear of a first-gen Ford Raptor.
The Sequoia retains the stock R100 chain-driven transfer case, but the T-case crossmember was modified to allow the front driveshaft to travel. One budget-friendly bonus was that Robert was able to reuse the stock drivelines by installing adapter flanges from High Angle Driveline.
To match the Super Duty-sourced front axle, a Sterling 10.5 full-float rear was hung out back. Securing it in place are 63-inch-long Chevy 1/2-ton rear leaf springs, which are attached to custom compression shackles. Like the front, rear Fox shocks from a Raptor were used out back.
The 39x13.50R17 BFG Krawlers look pretty proportionate under the massive SUV. To allow the wrecking-yard sourced H2 wheels to be used, a set of wheel adapters were purchased. These convert the Ford Super Duty 8-on-170 pattern to the 8-on-6 1/2 that the H2 uses.
Currently, the stock rear bumper remains in place, with the rear cargo area serving as storage for gear and his fullsize spare tire. Doubling as steps and rocker protection are sliders from Stubbs Welding.
Inside, the rig remains mostly stock, which is not to say it’s spartan by any means. The front heated leather seats were paired with a set of Smittybilt G.E.A.R. covers, and the image you see on the center stack is via the crossmember mounted camera. Another unique mod is the stick-twin conversion from Front Range Off-Road Fabrication.
In place of the stock front bumper is a DIY series bumper from MOVE. The plate-steel bumper was painted to match the body and is fit with an assortment of LED lights to help nighttime wheeling.
At A Glance
Vehicle: ’01 Toyota Sequoia
Owner: Robert Wyrick
Stomping grounds: Gibsonville, North Carolina
Build Time: One year
Engine: 4.7L Toyota V-8
Transfer case: R100
Low range ratio: 2.56:1
Crawl ratio: 38.6:1
Front axle/differential: High-pinion Dana 60/Lock-Right, 5.38 gears
Rear axle/differential: Sterling 10.5/limited-slip, 5.38 gears
Front: Solid-axle conversion using Ford Super Duty rear leaf springs, stock Ford Raptor 2.5 bypass rear shocks
Rear: Chevy 63-in springs, stock Ford Raptor 2.5 bypass rear shocks
Steering: Trail-Gear SAS steering kit with a Weaver Fab high-steer arm, custom links
Tires: 39x13.50R17 BFG Krawler
Wheels: 17x8.5 Hummer H2
Armor: MOVE front bumper, Stubb’s Welding sliders
Cool stuff: Front Range Off-Road Fab twin-stick T-case setup, High Angle Driveline adapters, Trail-Gear frame plates, Smittybilt seat covers, Optima RedTop Battery, Gibson headers