Wheels In Motion: A 1993 Toyota Pickup That Never Stops Evolving

    Ali MansourWriterKen BrubakerPhotographer

    The four-wheeling hobby is as family oriented as they come. Thanks to his stepdad, Mitch Kleinstein grew up reading Four Wheeler magazine. With that love for wheeling and a want to build his own trail machine, Kleinstein purchased his first Toyota pickup in 1994. It happens to be the ’93 Toyota you see here today. However, the road to its current setup has been a long one.

    While he started out small with a 4-inch suspension lift, rear ARB Air Locker, and 32-inch-tall tires, he would eventually transition from a simple solid-axle upgrade to the full rebuild you see here today. Its current build took about 10 months of nights and weekends, but the end result was a truck capable of everything he wanted. While items such as his camo-wrapped fiberglass fenders and body panels may seem a little unconventional, it all has a purpose.

    We caught up with Kleinstein in the wheeling wonderland that is Moab. There we were able to see firsthand how well the 23-year-old pickup gets it done. It may have been a long time to get to this point, but it was a journey worth taking. Kleinstein states he’s sure there will be more changes to come, but for now, he’ll enjoy it how it is.

    At A Glance
    Vehicle: ’93 Toyota Pickup
    Owner: Mitch Kleinstein
    Stomping grounds: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Build Time: One year
    Engine: 3.0L Toyota V-6
    Transmission: R150F
    Transfer case(s): Stock front half/stock secondary w/Marlin Crawler gears
    Low range ratio(s): 2.28:1, 4.70:1, 10.72:1
    Crawl ratio(s): 46.19:1, 95.23:1, 217.11:1
    Front axle/differential: Trail-Gear Rock Assault housing, high-pinion 8-in third member, chromoly axleshafts, 5.29 gears/ARB Air Locker
    Rear axle/differential: Trail-Gear Rock Assault housing, 8-in Toyota, chromoly axleshafts, 5.29 gears/ARB Air Locker
    Front: Trail-Gear 3-link w/14-in-travel ORI struts
    Rear: Trail-Gear 4-link w/16-in-travel ORI struts
    Steering: PSC Motorsports fully hydraulic w/double-ended ram
    Tires: 15x12 TrailReady beadlock
    Wheels: 37x12.50R17 Interco Irok
    Armor: Modified Trail-Gear front bumper, custom rear bumpers, cage, and sliders
    Cool Stuff: Onboard air, Warn winch, Trail-Gear cutting brakes, bed rack

    Gone is the Toyota’s original independent front suspension and in its place sits a custom straight-axle conversion. A Trail-Gear three-link suspension was paired with Branik Motorsports aluminum control arms to control the Trail-Gear Rock Assault axlehousing. Steering the front axle is a double-ended ram from PSC Motorsports. The fully hydraulic steering system was easier to package over a traditional steering gearbox and link setup and provides plenty of steering power when the ARB Air Locker is engaged.

    Welded to the plated stock Toyota front framerails are custom shock hoops, which hold the 14-inch-travel ORI struts. The ORI struts are a unique dual-piston air shock that lend themselves well to the type of rockcrawling and trail riding Kleinstein frequents.

    Out back, the Trail-Gear Rock Assault axlehousing has been stuffed with 5.29 gears, an ARB Air Locker, and chromoly axleshafts from Trail-Gear. The four-link rear suspension works with the ORI struts to allow the axle to cycle extensively. Trail-Gear’s rear disc-brake conversion was also added on for extra stopping power.

    Under the hood, you’ll find the original 3.0L Toyota V-6. To accommodate the solid-axle conversion, a two-wheel-drive oil pan was installed. Adding a little more breathing room is a 2 1/4-inch Genie Performance Exhaust imported from Australia. Powering the extra electrical accessories is an Optima YellowTop dry-cell battery.

    For added crawling ability, Kleinstein added an additional Toyota transfer case to the equation. The front underdrive case is fit with the stock 2.28:1 low range, while the original T-case has been upgraded with a 4.70:1 gearset from Marlin Crawler. To add a bit of flair and function, the custom skidplates and crossmembers were all powdercoated gray and Plum Crazy Purple. Clearly, this Toyota owner has a sense of humor.

    Kleinstein is no stranger to long-distance trail rides and wrenching on his rig, so he keeps his bed full of tools, gear, and supplies. Given it’s one of the few Toyota pickups we’ve featured that doesn’t have an extensive bed bob, he has plenty of room for other must-haves, such as his relocated fuel tank and onboard air compressor.

    The bed cage serves not only as a rack and accessory mount, but part of the suspension assembly as well. This was necessary to allow the 16-inch-travel ORI struts enough room for the suspension to cycle. Another trick feature you’ll see nestled between the shock towers is a small pull-down winch to ensure the suspension doesn’t unload during steep or off-camber situations.

    To make sure his recovery gear and tools stay out of the elements (and the wrong hands) a hard-shell tonneau cover was added out back. It’s fit with a modified roof rack, which holds the 37-inch Interco Irok spare tire.

    Inside, the Toyota pickup remains largely stock but did get a custom 1 5/8-inch DOM cage for occupant protection. With the exception of the modified Trail-Gear winch front bumper (holding a Warn 8,000-pound winch), Kleinstein fabricated the majority of the truck’s armor himself.

    One hefty and well-executed modification was the addition of the high-clearance rear bumper. Since the truck does have a bit of an overhang, the heavy-duty corner guards and bumper play an active role in keeping the bed in one piece. If he does manage to scrape the body, the CamoClad wrap can easily be replaced.