1985 Toyota Pickup Diesel McFly
A 1985 Toyota pickup with an engine from the future
“Doc, this is heavy. The Cummins R2.8 Turbo Diesel isn’t available to the public in the U.S. yet. Here it is though, under the hood of an ’85 Toyota Xtracab. Did we go back to the future?”
Not quite. Walt Wagner, owner of Tactical Application Vehicles (TAV), holds one of the few exclusive contracts from Cummins that allows his shop to beta test the four-cylinder R2.8 crate engine. Walt’s shop partner Marc, the lead mechanic on the build, explained to us one of the challenges of squeezing the Cummins diesel into an ’85 Toyota pickup engine bay. “It gets hot; there’s no space for heat to escape, which is why we added the hood cowl,” he says. Thanks to the additional airflow, a Champion aluminum three-core radiator with dual electric fans and a small charge air cooler ahead of that perform masterfully on- and off-road.
After building the truck in just two months Marc drove it six hours from TAV headquarters in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to the FJ Summit in Telluride, Colorado, where we watched it stretch its legs on some old mining roads.
The sophistication of this truck is in its clean, creative design and bulletproof mechanics. Maxing out at 161 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque, the compact turbodiesel provides more than enough power to push the Xtracab’s 35-inch Goodyear MT/Rs over obstacles with ease. A combo of Bilstein 5100 shocks and modified Trail-Gear leaf springs give this TAV shop truck plenty of travel without adding any unnecessary weight. The 4.10:1 diff gears with Yukon Grizzly lockers front and rear keep it crawling along. The stock W56 five-speed transmission was retained. Custom flywheel machining was completed by Axis Industries, and there’s a custom bellhousing. Power is delivered via front and rear custom-built CV driveshafts and a Marlin Crawler Dual Ultimate Crawler T-case setup.
Though simple and sturdy mechanically, this beautifully kept Xtracab is outfitted with all the amenities that make for a perfect camping rig. Below the Front Runner Outfitters bed rack is ample room for gear storage and an ARB slide-out fridge. Given that this shop truck resides in New Mexico, A/C is a must, and the truck has it. Due to limited underhood space, the A/C condenser and fan are mounted in the bed of the truck. To top it all off, a James Baroud Evasion hard shell rooftop tent makes this truck not only a capable and easy-to-maintain rockcrawler but also a well-outfitted overland hauler.
At a Glance
Vehicle: ’85 Toyota Xtracab
Owner: Tactical Application Vehicles LLC
Stomping grounds: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Build time: Two months
Engine: Cummins Repower R2.8L Turbo Diesel
Transmission: W56 five-speed manual
Transfer case(s): Marlin Crawler
Low range ratio(s): 2.28:1, 4.70:1
Crawl ratio(s): 36.9:1, 76.1:1
Front axle/differential: Toyota 8-in HP, 4.10:1 gears/Yukon Grizzly Locker
Rear axle/differential: Toyota 8-in IFS width, 4.10:1 gears/Yukon Grizzly Locker
Front: Modified 3-in-lift Trail-Gear leaf springs, Bilstein 5100 shocks
Rear: Modified 3-in-lift Trail-Gear leaf springs, Bilstein 5100 shocks
Steering: Trail-Gear High Steer Kit
Tires: 35x12.50R15LT Goodyear MT/R
Wheels: 15x8 steel
Lighting: Rigid Industries D-Series Dually
Armor: Custom TAV front bumper, Marlin Crawler rear bumper with custom TAV rear tire carrier and full spare, custom TAV hood cowl, Front Runner bed rack
Cool stuff: Smittybilt XRC 9,500-lb winch with Viking synthetic rope, Corbeau bucket seats, FW Murphy engine temp gauge, Pioneer sound system with 12-in sub, James Baroud Evasion rooftop tent, ARB fridge