While staying at home, most of us have projects in the garage or driveway, and for some of us, there might actually be some time to work on it. But for a lot of us, having the excess cash lying around to take the next step just might not be an option right now. Depending on where you are with that project, goods and/or services may be temporarily unavailable as many businesses big and small are temporarily shut down. These are all things that smart humans would consider before taking on a new project. Unfortunately, that's not how our brain works.
Recently, we were tasked with selling a vehicle for a family member. No big deal, right? We've done the same for many a family and friend over the years. We were handed over the keys to what turned out to be a low mileage and well-maintained 2001 Toyota Highlander with the 3.0 V6 and full-time 4WD. After driving it around for a couple days, we decided to have some fun with it before we sent it down the road.
Now there's a few things to consider here before we go any further. First, by our own definition, this is not a truck. You may have noticed that 99% of what Truckin covers is body-on-frame design. While that will remain true, we have had the idea for a long time to throw in the occasional "oddball," which we knew would consist mostly of crossover-type vehicles, and the Highlander was one of the first of the genre. Also, we're stuck at home, and you have to "run what you brung." We don't have a ton of options while on at home, and this Vintage Gold, egg-shaped grocery getter was sitting out front, staring us in the face, begging to be modified.
The next area where we strayed from the norm was our parts acquisition. Normally, we work with trusted partners and advertisers for our tech stories. It guarantees the parts are correct and reliable for the application—and there's someone to answer for it if they're not. Since we're at home and under the gun, we threw caution to the wind and made all of our purchases for the entire build off of eBay and Amazon in a matter of an hour or two.
Finally, we did have to do at least one thing at a shop in each of the three installments we're about to lay on you. Luckily, our friends at New Century Tire in Westminster, California, were open for business to mount some tires and save us with us a couple of other times along the way. Due to social distancing, there weren't a lot of photo ops available, so we're thanking them in advance for their contributions.
We originally had the dollar amount set at $1,000 and the timeline at 48 hours, but we ran into a snag immediately that cost us the better part of the first day. And, as we were wrapping the second day, we decided that in addition to making the truck cool, we also wanted to make it a little nicer to drive, so a new total of 72 hours and $1,500 was allotted.
For day one, we installed the strut spacer-style lift kit, along with some custom wheel spacers and a simple but effective wheel and tire combo, which together made the biggest improvement to the Highlander of all. But check back soon, because we've got a whole bunch more to do to this little SUV before we hit out time and dollar limit!
Day One Totals:
Tema Strut Spacers: $150
ZY Wheel Adapters: $70
Used 16-inch Steel wheels: $100
Used Toyo 245/70R16 tires: $140
Strut Stud replacement, Tire Mount & Balance: $60