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El Nino

Posted in Vehicle Reviews on October 25, 2004 Comment (0)
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Photographers: Wendy Frazier

Courage, man! Look directly into the light, not away from it. When you do, you'll see that Chris Geiger's '83 Toyota pickup has turned into a ray of possibility. Like most 4x4 owners, Chris wanted it all. He wanted a daily driver. He wanted a project. He wanted the ultimate tackle any trail/smooth on road co-conspirator for his adventures on killer trails like Johnson Valley, the Rubicon, those at Panamint Valley, and Moab.

Versatility and doability are the key concepts in the Toyota's design. The truck, used for on-road off-road performance, has on-again, off-again removable half doors. Bright yellow skin, durable lightweight power, and a heavy-duty rollcage aren't the only features and components that draw attention to the yellow screamer. The photos show more of what Chris did to build his favorite Toy.

"Gopher It," you can quote it. Chris said it. OK he actually said, "Go for it," when speaking of building a project truck. Think "sounds like" and you'll get it. Plus, in many ways gophers aren't so different from squirrels. The squirrel generated power comes from an '87 22RE. The carb motor was swapped for a balanced and blueprinted EFI motor with refurbished connecting rods; and DOA Severe Duty pistons, rings, high-volume oil pump, DOA C270 camshaft. The head was ported and polished and on went the LC Engineering headers and exhaust. Most unique to the plaything is the diamond-plate flatbed with a 37-inch spare hanging below. The integrated toolbox and Powertank are good examples of tight stowage. Additionally, the fiberglass fenders ensure no rubbing as the tires tuck and turn. To aid the tuck Chris moved the firewall back 3 inches--again showing the world that if everything fits, people will envy your ride.

bFront axle: Dana 60/Toyota All Pro hybrid with Ford F-450 knuckles, 5.29 gears, and a Detroit Locker. "I wanted Hy-steer for the front axle but couldn't find it," Chris articulates. Two and two came together and he made his own arms on a mill starting with blocks of steel. The handmade custom steering arms move the tie rod above the axle.

Rear axle: '86 Toyota rear axle, 5.29 gears, a Detroit Locker, and cut and plated housing for clearance and strength. Accompanied by Bilstein shocks, the All Pro 5-inch Extreme lift allows the suspension to talk the talk and walk the walk.

Transfer case: A front high-angle driveline long-spline driveshaft with 10 inches of travel, and a rear shaft with a CV added between the Marlin Dual Crawler transfer case and high-pinion rearend. Under that All Pro protective shroud (transfer case skidplate) the Marlin Dual Crawler T-case has a 1:1 high range and a choice of 2.28, 4.7, and 10.7 low-range ratios. On the front end of the transfer case a stock Toyota five-speed is bolted.

Brakes, tires, wheels: A Wilwood front, a Toyota 10-inch drum rear, and a master cylinder from a donor FJ-80. To accommodate the truck's extreme attitude and 37x12.50 SSR Swampers with bead-locked Champion 15x10s, Chris added wheelbase length--2 inches at the front and 5 inches in the rear, totalling 107 inches. He also moved metal by removing the crossmembers, adding a flatbed, and mounting a fuel tank under it. The tank is mounted above the driveshaft for more clearance.

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