1. home
  2. project vehicles
  3. 1983 Toyota Pickup - By Design

1983 Toyota Pickup - By Design

A classic 1983 Toyota pickup with the heart of a 1991

Ken BrubakerPhotographer, Writer

Would it surprise you to learn that this impeccablyrestored ’83 Toyota pickup has run the Rubicon Trail and the Dusy-Ershim Trail? Well, it has, but the surprises don’t end there. During the thorough restoration, retired auto body technician Bob Davidson of Atascadero, California, injected the classic rig with a number of cool mods designed to improve its performance both on- and off-highway. “My goal was for an original-looking, reliable, capable rig for my daily driving and a rig that would go most anywhere,” Davidson says.

He accomplished these goals by swapping in a newer, fuel-injected powerplant, as well as beefier driveline components and a slew of off-highway-centric accessories. Was it easy? Nope. As a matter of fact, he ran into several challenges along the way. Was it time consuming? Yep. Davidson says, “In order to complete the project in under a year, I had a goal of doing something on it every day.”

Ultimately, it’s pretty clear that the result was well worth the effort. The custom rig is good at what it does, and that was no accident. It was by design.

The stock front axle is trussed and gusseted with Marlin Crawler components, and it has been fitted with Land Cruiser vented rotors; IFS Toyota calipers; Longfield 30-spline axleshafts; and a beefier centersection from a V-6-powered ’91 4Runner. The centersection is fitted with 4.88:1 gears and an ARB Air Locker. The suspension consists of Bilstein 5125 shocks and customized rear-application Toyota leaf springs that generate approximately three inches of lift. The High Steer Kit was sourced from Marlin Crawler.

Out back, the axle is from a ’91 Toyota, and like the front, it sports 4.88:1 cogs and an ARB Air Locker. The rear suspension uses a pair of Bilstein 5125 shocks and a pair of 63-inch Chevy truck leaf-spring packs mounted to Poly Performance front spring hangers (moved about 8 inches forward from stock) and relocated custom rear shackles.

Davidson’s Toyota uses Marlin Crawler’s Dual Ultimate Crawler setup consisting of the stock 2.28:1 factory t-case bolted to a Marlin Crawler 4.7:1 Crawl Box. A BudBuilt BudLight crossmember supports the pair, and Davidson says that it’s located approximately six inches aft of where the stock crossmember used to sit. In this photo you can also see a portion of the strong square-tube front driveshaft and the beefy re-tubed rear driveshaft.

The stock carbureted ’83 22R four-cylinder engine has been replaced with a ’91 fuel-injected 22R-E Four. Davidson says the 22R-E bolted directly into the ’83 frame. He also swapped in the ’91’s fuel tank and five-speed manual transmission. In addition to the reliability of fuel injection, this new engine offers a nice bump in horsepower and torque compared to the old engine. An Optima RedTop battery provides amperage.

Davidson says one of the most challenging parts of the build was the installation of the ’91 dashboard into the ’83 cab. He needed this assembly due to the installation of the electronic fuel-injected engine and its associated wiring. Once installed, he added switches for the ARB air compressor and ARB Air Lockers. Other interior mods include re-covered ’91 SR5 seats, an aftermarket carpet kit, and a Pioneer head unit.

The Details
Owner/Hometown: Bob Davidson/Atascadero, California
Vehicle/Model: ’83 Toyota pickup
Estimated value: N/A
Type: ’91 22R-E I-4
Aspiration: Fuel injected
Output, hp/torque (estimated): N/A
Transmission: ’91 5-spd manual
Transfer Case(s): Factory 2-spd, Marlin Crawler Crawl Box
Front: Leaf spring, Bilstein 5125 shocks
Rear: Chevy leaf spring, Bilstein 5125 shocks
Front: Stock, trussed and gusseted w/’91 Toyota centersection/ARB Air Locker
Rear: ’91 Toyota/ARB Air Locker
Ring and pinion: 4.88:1
Wheels: 15x8 Unique Series 297
Tires: 35x12.50R15LT Goodyear MT/R