I’m a very long time Expo Portal lurker and am hoping to put some of my knowledge learned to the test. This site and forum is a fantastic resource… and motivator.
The main driver for the build is a road trip through the US and Central America. Over the last couple of years my wife and I have talked about taking 3-6 months off and driving south, but we never really put a plan into motion. One day recently I sent an email to her mentioning how nice it would be sitting on the beach in Baja instead of staring at a computer screen at work.
Her single-line response was, “WHAT are we going to do to get there?” I’m going to build a truck, obviously. (This is the best excuse I’ve ever had for a project actually)
My daily driver is a 2000 Z71 Silverado and after putting about 160,000km on it over the last eight years I knew I’d be happier having a Toyota of some flavour as an expo rig. The Silverado is fantastic on road and eats up smooth North American highway kilometers for breakfast. Honestly, this would make a fine truck for the trip, but the reliability and hopefully inconspicuous nature of the Toyota brought me back to the import camp. The numerous Toyota Land Cruisers and Hilux’s we have seen on our adventures the last couple of years in South East Asia and the Middle East definitely swayed my bias as well. If these trucks (okay, Hiluxs…) can be beat on in the Wadi Rum desert with minimal maintenance and are still going with 500,000+ miles, then that’s enough for me.
My previous truck (before the Chevy) was a 1988 V6 4Runner that was my daily driver for five years. The 4Runner was great off road with a 3” body lift, 63” Chevy springs, 35” MT/Rs, and welded spiders in the rear. This eventually got a SAS, 302 and C4 before I ran out of funds and lost my shop space.
Why did I end up choosing a Toyota Pickup? Well, I guess it actually chose me. I was cruising Craigslist constantly hoping anything would come up in my budget. Okay, I didn’t really have a budget set at the time so I was really just looking for something that was a deal I couldn’t pass up. I searched for Toyota Pickups, 4Runners, Tacomas, 60 and 80 Series Land Cruisers. It seems as though anything with a Toyota badge sells as if it is made of gold in the Pacific North West. Finding one that I could “afford” was more difficult than expected.
Through a string of exceptionally good luck I was able to pick up a 1989 Toyota Pickup 22RE 5 speed from family for pretty much nothing. It didn’t pass AirCare (smog) and has some driveability issues and wasn’t worth the previous owners time to fix it. They bought a new Tacoma and I got the hand-me-down. Sounds like a perfect way to start for me!
This has to be a built on a budget and with a plan. I have dumped enough money into vehicles to know that I could be throwing away cash hand over fist if I don’t think this through. Keeping in mind I have spent almost no seat time in the truck at this point I’m aiming for a $3500 total budget (a totally arbitrary number to start with) before adding any accessories (tent, fridge, etc). Starting with a truck that didn’t cost me anything will help my cause and I should be able to get quite a bit done for that price as long as nothing major crops up. The little things will add up quickly so we’ll see how much can be done before we reach that magic number.
About the Truck:
1989 Toyota Pickup
Overall the truck is is pretty good shape and a great starting point.
We made a blog to document our prep and trip. Find it here: www.desktoglory.com