1990 Toyota Pickup Prelander


New member
Hey all! New to Expedition Portal but I find myself wandering over here more and more lately as I seem to be switching from fast desert style offroading to more of an expedition / overland style of offroading.

I've always loved just getting out, driving around, and exploring what's down a dirt road. Coming from a moto background when I was younger, I really liked to go fast and jump so naturally I was drawn to the desert truck scene or what most people refer to as prerunners. A couple years back I moved up to the mountains in Big Bear and found myself cruising around a lot of the jeep trails in between desert trips since they were all over the place up there. Unfortunately one day I was coming around a blind corner on a narrow road at the same time as someone else and things didn't turn out so well. Eventually I decided to part it out and sell it off.

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Right about the same time we upgraded the girlfriend from a 2wd Pathfinder to a 4wd Trailblazer since we both agreed it would be safer for her in the snow. In the meantime I started to drive the Pathfinder and it was actually a pretty fun little vehicle!


We did a fair amount of offroading, camping, and hiking in that thing and left the Trailblazer for road trips since it was a much nicer vehicle. We were having a lot of fun in the Pathfinder and it turned out to be a much more capable vehicle than either of us were expecting... so naturally we started itching for standard maintenance items and upgrades. In the back of our heads, though, we both knew it was still only 2wd so we were a little hesitant considering that we live where it snows. It wasn't much later that my friend posted his 1990 4x4 Toyota Pickup for sale. I've always been a Toyota guy, and with the boxed frame rails, swing steering, and 4wd, it was a no brainer. I checked it out and it needed some work and some love, but the price was right. He'd been driving it to and from work 5 days a week for the last few years so I really didn't see what could go wrong. I came back down the following week and picked it up.

It's a pretty simple truck. The torsion bars are cranked up and it's sitting on 33's. Other than that it's got a light bar that he had laying around from way back in the day that he threw on, and that's about it. Oh and locking hubs.

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Needless to say, I was pretty excited about having a truck again and just felt like going somewhere and sleeping in the back the very first night I had it haha


I've had it for about 4 months now (just now realized it's been that long already lol, still seems like yesterday) and the gf and I have taken it out quite a bit. There's been a transmission and transfer case issue that's been ongoing and I've been dealing with that, so no 4wd currently, but it's still nice to use it as a truck. I had to upgrade the tail lights right off the bat because it's really dark where we live and I couldn't see anything whenever I would back up. In the meantime I've been plucking away at the want / to do list and cleaning it up a little at a time. I ordered up some trail goodies, swapped in some interior led's, removed the totally awesome purple tint, cleaned up the carpet a bit, and slapped on a sticker.

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New member
The truck started smoking whenever I'd shut it off and I traced it down to a bad valve cover gasket. That was fun. If you know, you know. So that was fixed and then it was back to more goodies. Just within the last week I've ordered up some stereo stuff and made some speaker panels for the rear. I still have to wire it all up, but most recently I just hopped on the technology bandwagon and decided to mount an old tablet I had laying around. I'll be using Gaia GPS as the gf and I have really enjoyed it for both offroading and hiking, and I mounted the tablet with the Mob Armor Tabnetic Pro. I absolutely love how clean, simple, and functional it is.

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And of course what everyone REALLY wants to know... what are the plans?!

Well the gf and I really love road trips, hiking, backpacking, and just plain going on adventures. A group of friends have recently been putting rtt's on their prerunners and running with the term 'prelander' as a bit of a joke. To be fair I feel like it's a fit and it's definitely the direction I'm headed with my truck as well. As much as I'm enjoying Jeep trails and 4wd, I still like to go fast through the desert. This truck will be built to do both. The goal is to go just about anywhere our hearts take us including long highway trips, mountain jeep trails, and hauling ass through the middle of nowhere all while providing a comfortable and self sustaining setup.

Short term plans within the next 6 months (hopefully lol):

- Sliders
- Hi Lift jack (48"?)
- Rtt and bed mount
- Deaver f85's
- Bilstein's

Longer term plans (ideally within the year):

- Roof rack with led bar, rotopax for spare fuel and water, and rifle case for trail gear storage
- Front and rear bumpers
- Toyo MT's

Goals (whenever funds permit):

- Total Chaos lt kit with t100 axles
- Short course style linked t100 rearend with a panhard bar


Welcome friend! enjoying the build so far, she cleaned up well. With your list of add ons and that 3.0 power plant, Id also consider a re-gear somewhere down the line. When I added 33's to my '94 she could barley get going under her own weight. Just a thought!

Looking forward to watching this unfold! best of luck!


That's a nice pickup and very ambitious build goals (mine are more like build dreams). I live in the IE and love driving the trails in the San Bernardino mountains- I'll keep an eye out for you and your truck.


New member
Yeah I can't deny the 3.0's a turd for sure! I drive pretty slow anyways so I'm not too concerned for now since I'm planning on a 3.4 whenever the head gasket decides to go.

Definitely ambitious and I'm sure a couple things will remain on the list for some time, but goals are goals for a reason. Shoot high and take what you can right?

Thanks for the positive feedback! Expedition Portal seems like a pretty positive community so I'm pretty stoked to start getting involved!


New member
Picked up my 48" Hi Lift the other day and rummaged through some old boxes for some hardware. Came across some grade 8 stuff and trick tabs so looks like I've already got a few things to get going on the bed rack build for the rtt to come.

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I was toying with a few different designs and wasn't really sure what direction to go with it. I really wanted to go with some rectangular tubing on the sides, but after looking at countless photos on the internet and considering design pro's and con's, I've decided to keep it simple to avoid stress on unnecessary welds etc. This is kind of what I'm going after...


It still concerns me bouncing around with a 25 lb Hi Lift jack mounted to only a few bolts, but after crunching some numbers I've decided shear strength should be okay if I double shear off each post for a total of four mounting points.

The gf and I have decided to go with the FrontRunner rtt so based off the dimensions available online, I've started drawing up a few things to see how and where tubes will land. I got lucky with some angles and I'll be able to fish mouth 1 3/4" round tube to 1 1/2" angled steel so the material being used will be reassuring for this build too.


And last but not least for now - we had to move back down to Santa Clarita to help my parents fix and sell their house and we won't be using our splitter for the winter, so we've decided to mount the axe and a shovel to the other side of the mount. Still considering mounting options for that side of the bed rack, but I'm pretty sure I've got it figured out in my head and will be utilizing quick fists for securing the tools.


It's all starting to come along one thing at a time!


New member
Wow time flies! The last few weeks have been so much go, go, go that I don't feel like I've even had a chance to take a breath haha

Let's see... so back to the overland rack. I was originally thinking something along the lines of a design that allowed both a shovel and an axe on one side. After some measuring, though, it just seemed too cramped. The gf and I chatted about it and decided that we really don't think we'll need an axe on the vehicle anyways. Chances are we'll probably more than likely never come across a downed tree/branch and about 75% of the wood we split is usually done with a hatchet anyways. So that design was eliminated and we kept it simple with just a shovel. Again - the whole plan behind this build is to keep it simple, light, minimal, and functional.


It started off with small things first. We bought a shovel, and yes, we had to paint it lol. I wanted to utilize some stovers I had laying around and decided that the Hi Lift jack was the perfect candidate, so I ground down some grade 8 hardware to make studs out of. Also picked up some paint I've been eyeballing and decided to go for it. Semi gloss black has just grown so old to me that I really just wanted to change it up and this flat soft iron color really caught my eye.

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New member
We picked up some metal on a whim while we were passing by IMS one day, then the build process finally came along the day before I flew out to Michigan to celebrate my grandma's 90th birthday. Wasn't sure if we would finish it in a day, but all the measuring and design plans from ahead of time really paid off and we knocked it out by sundown.

I was originally going to go with 1.75" .065 wall, but ended up going with 1.5" .90 wall and I'm pretty happy with my last second change of plans. Just welded seam because it's an overland rack, not a roll cage. I considered triangulating it as well, but again... just an overland rack, not a roll cage. Keeping it simple. If welds starts cracking I'll throw some gussets in there, no big deal. All in all it came out to 27.5 lbs said and done. I'm trying to keep the overland rack, shovel, Hi Lift jack, and rtt under 200 lbs and it looks like I'm going to nail that goal. Anyways, here's how it came out...

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Trimmed up the lips on the feet hanging over the bedsides and cut 45's into the corners to clean it up a bit...

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Then had the gf prep for paint because I hate paint prep haha


And I took about 10 different pictures of the finished paint job, but not a single one does any justice. I absolutely LOVE how this color came out! This is the best angle I was able to get to show how it really looks in person...


We almost bought our rtt last week, but we've been trying to catch up on some other things first so that will have to wait. We've definitely narrowed it down to the Front Runner rtt as we really like the design of it, but unfortunately we have to wait on the purchase of the rtt before we can mount the rack. The last measurement I need to know is the standoff distance of the window spar to make sure it won't hit the cab of my truck. Hopefully we'll be able to purchase it sooner than later because I REALLY want to mock it up and get everything mounted already now that that's the only thing we're waiting on. We'd both really like to take it out in the snow, too, and winter's coming up quick! I can't wait to see how the truck is going to look with the rack painted, accessories mounted, and the rtt on top. Patience I suppose.


New member
And the last thing I've been working on lately is wiring up my rear speakers. Holy crap did that turn into a little bit more of a project than I was expecting lol! I had an amp laying around that I decided to power all 4 speakers with so might as well pull the carpet right? There was all kinds of crazy weird wiring from a previous owner anyways, so I wanted to clean all of that up and start fresh. Don't really have too many pictures of the install and honestly it's not that exciting anyways, but here's a few for what it's worth...

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I will say it's great having rear speakers again. I'm a little bit of a nut for quality sound so I'm really happy I decided to pull the trigger on this project. I might've bit off a little more than I was expecting to chew with this one, but it has DEFINITELY paid off and it sounds great. If anyone's been considering adding rear speakers to their Pickup, do it.

And why not, here's a couple road trip pictures for you guys. I had a friend come out and visit recently and he's pretty big into landscape photography. We're always going new places and seeing new things and this time around we made a quick trip along the 101 to Davenport Pier, Big Sur, and Bixby Bridge. Beautiful sites as always! If you're on IG you can check out some of his work @jzvicentin.

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New member
Head gasket blew so the build's been put on hold for a little bit as I wasn't quite ready for the 3.4 swap. Was hoping I had another year or two to save, so I'm looking into a few options and I'll more than likely either rebuild my current motor or pick up another 3.0 just to get it running for now.

In the meantime I finally ordered up some clear corner lights and blinkers. Couldn't take those ugly black corner lights anymore haha


I'm having an issue with the led bulbs I picked up though. I grabbed some Philips 1156 amber bulbs to put in the blinkers, but they don't light up from the trucks power source.


The issue is when they're installed into the socket, they simply don't work. Reverse polarity isn't an issue with these bulbs. They work fine in the tail lights turn signal socket, just not up front in either passenger or drivers side. Oddly enough I don't even need a resistor, I don't get hyper flash (actually even when there's no bulb in I don't get hyper flash). If I test the bulbs individually they both work when testing hot and ground. I also have separated the socket from the truck and checked via the socket to a separate power source and they work. It's only when they're connected to the stock wiring at the front turn signal that they don't work. Anyone else having this issue or know something that I'm not thinking of?


The only thing that I can think of is that those trucks wiring is notoriously too small. Is it possible they draw more power than the wire can provide causing a huge voltage drop below the needed amount? Just a thought?


New member
Thanks for the reply! I doubt it only because I've even tested it directly to a 9 volt battery as well and it seemed to work fine. I guess I'll just try another type of led and use amber halogen's for now.


main culprits behind the 3.0 head gasket failure is the crossover pipe being to close to head and overheating the rear cylinders, look into the crossover pipe mod or get a set of headers ,makes a world of difference.