Rick Bovads Bounds has owned his ’90 4Runner since 1997, and it has seen a lot of backcountry trails in the past 14 years. He worked his way through the popular IFS evolution with lifts and tires up to 35s, with hard trail use delivering parts failure to the stock Toyota drivetrain. So, he recently took the plunge for a more substantial hardware upgrade and swapped in 1-ton axles to run big 42-inch rubber, then went on to change a few other items.
However, Rick did not take the choice of mods lightly. He lives in Arizona, where off-road play is a year-round pursuit and terrain runs the gamut from sand dunes and washes to hardcore rocks, snow-blanketed mountains, and spring runoff. He wanted a rig that could take him and his family all these places and haul along some camping gear as well.
What he built in his garage was a 4Runner that could romp in all varieties of dirt and rock. The rear sheetmetal was seriously massaged. The Toyota retains SR5 seating and the stock four doors, but the rear cargo area has been converted to an outside bed that houses a Hi-Lift jack and spare tire. Inside, a six-point cage provides safety upgrades along with five-point harnesses.
We caught up with Rick on several occasions out romping in the snow, crawling rocks, and slithering through some rainy day mud. He has built a 4Runner capable of tackling a lot of terrain while still retaining creature comforts and fairly decent road manners for a rig with big tires. We were impressed with his fab skills and the cool rig design that continues to evolve.
1990 Toyota 4Runner
Engine: Toyota 3.0L V-6, custom intake, Downey headers
Transmission: Stock 5-speed manual
Transfer case: Dual Toyota cases 2.28:1 and 4.0:1, HD Marlin input, Marlin short throw shifters front and back
Front Axle: Dodge Dana 60, Reid Racing knuckles, Yukon Grizzly locker, 5.38 Yukon gears, chromoly axleshafts
Rear Axle: Full-floating 14-bolt, 5.38 gears, welded spider gears, Ballistic disc brake conversion
Springs & Such: Custom 3-link using 5-inch TeraFlex Jeep TJ coils, Poly Performance 15-inch travel shocks, 4-inch Fox air bumps (front); 63-inch Chevy leaf packs, 14-inch travel Bilstein shocks (rear)
Tires & Wheels: 42x14.5R17LT Goodyear Kevlar MTRs, 17x9 steel wheels with DIY Crawl Fab 40-bolt beadlocks drilled out to 10 mm
Steering: PSC hydraulic assist to a Toyota box, PSC Saginaw pump and reservoir
Other Stuff: Warn 9500 HSi winch, High Angle long-travel driveshafts, custom rollcage, custom body and cargo compartment, hinged spare tire carrier, fiberglass fenders and hood
A Ballistic Fabrication trussed 14-bolt axle provides a strong rear drive. It’s loaded with 5.38 gears. Homebrew welded spiders keep both rear tires turning the same. Suspension flex is far better than stock with a 63-inch Chevy pack swap held in check with 14-inch Bilstein 7100s. Rick also did a disc brake upgrade on the axle to competently stop the big meats. The wheelbase measures just shy of 113 inches.
Major changes have taken place under the front end. The 4Runner now has a beefy Dana 60 from a Dodge truck held in position with a custom three-link suspension that Rick fabricated and sprung with Poly Performance BBCS 15-inch-travel shocks. The 5.38 gears locked with a Yukon Grizzly unit work well to spin the 42-inch Goodyear MTRs. Reid Racing knuckles are turned with PSC hydro-assist from a Toyota tapped steering box.
Here’s a view of the eye-catching part that sets this 4Runner body apart from the crowd. Rick did some serious steelwork on the Toyota sheetmetal. The rear cargo compartment was cut off and the body made into a truck-style back, utilizing the stock rear window. An upsized spare rides on the rear tire carrier, which is hinged to lock in two positions. The down position provides better visibility, but the carrier can be hinged up to devote the full bed space to storing camping gear.