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Discussion Starter #1
After ten years of owning my Jeep YJ, the frame is starting to let go. It kills me to have to put it up on CraigsList, but I guess everything dies eventually. I've spent the past few days scouring over PBB and CraigsList and, as of right now, decided on a 4Runner.

My YJ is currently drivable and should be able to pass inspection. I figure sell it for 2-3k and bank the money. Save over a few months and buy myself a 4Runner. Now, how far will $4k or so get me? Doesn't need to pretty. Something that can be inspected and insured. Driven daily. And will be able to take me through some Class VI roads. Eventually I'd do a SAS and some drivetrain work, but I'm sure that will be out of my initial funding. I figure pick something up now, drive it to work and bank some money to start building this thing the right way. Which leads me to my next question.

What am I looking at in terms of difficulty in modding a 4Runner? I have a welder, which I'm going to need a lot more practice with until I start getting serious. I'm not looking to get into four links, half backs, and big block motors. Just something that will allow me to fit maybe some 33s, take on camping trips, and be my daily driver.

My last question is, anything I should look out for? Any particular year that would be a good year to seek out? Any year/motor/axle/trans I should avoid?

All in all, is building a 4Runner on the cheap a feasible option? I'm willing to learn with the welder and am not afraid to use a sawzall. Thanks for the help.
 

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there are a ton of runners low to mid 90's for around 2 g's in CO. You can get yourself a great deal if you look. Pick up a cheap 94 or later. Make sure it's the 3.4 liter. You won't have any regrets. And you could still do a SAS. You can easilly do it on the cheap. Keep en eye out for front axle with the factory locker. You have a welder, yolu'll pick it up quick. It's not that hard. Once you go Toyota, you'll regret every day in that jeep. I know I do.
 

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If you get an '85 4runner you won't have to do a SAS. 3.0s are a pain in the ass, a solid 22re will get you where you want to go. You can fit 33's without cutting or lifting anything if the springs are still good. Get chevy 63" springs or ford 59" springs for the rear and build or buy hangers and shackles, build a custom leaf pack using the stock rear springs and another set from the junk yard, cut to size. If you go with an 85, you either need a drop pitman arm or scrap the box and get an IFS box and do crossover with histeer.

Read the FAQs and don't post anymore until you have somewhat of an understanding of what is involved with toyotas. They kick ass and can be had for cheap, parts can be cheap, and they are tough as fuck.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
One quick thing. Typically how are the frames on the 86 - 95 4Runners? They tend to rust out or have problem areas like Jeep YJs have near the rear spring hanger? I only ask because that's the primary reason I'm getting rid of my Jeep.
 

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For the budget of $4K or less, I wouldn't bank on getting a 3rd generation with the 3.4 and factory locker in the REAR.
At this point, I'd stick with the 86-95. Avoid the V6 3.0 engine.
You won't need a solid front for now, and later on when you do the swap, you'll already have the steering and bigger rear and better brakes.
If you want the removable top, your search narrows to 86-89, with a 4 cyl 22RE. THAT is what I would do in your shoes.

You can put 33s on, even if the springs are worn, just warm up the sawzall a little and go through some blades.

One you got your truck and play around with it, when you have the time and money to proceed, spend hours reading the Toyota FAQ and forum.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
One you got your truck and play around with it, when you have the time and money to proceed, spend hours reading the Toyota FAQ and forum.
Its a slow day at the office. Been reading http://www.pirate4x4.com/forum/showthread.php?t=459180 for the past two hours. :D

I've heard a lot about the 22RE. I'll be sure to scout one out. What really concerns me is frame rust. Living in the woods of NH makes for rotting frames a consistent thing. That's whats swinging me from an early 80s to a 90s 4Runner. I've been looking around from a 95+ 4Runner for the 3.4 as I have read to avoid the 3.0.

And like I said, I'm not too concerned with rushing to an SAS at all. Bust out the sawzall and slap on some 33s will be just fine for now.

Thanks for the help. =]
 

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If you get an '85 4runner you won't have to do a SAS. 3.0s are a pain in the ass, a solid 22re will get you where you want to go. You can fit 33's without cutting or lifting anything if the springs are still good. Get chevy 63" springs or ford 59" springs for the rear and build or buy hangers and shackles, build a custom leaf pack using the stock rear springs and another set from the junk yard, cut to size. If you go with an 85, you either need a drop pitman arm or scrap the box and get an IFS box and do crossover with histeer.

Read the FAQs and don't post anymore until you have somewhat of an understanding of what is involved with toyotas. They kick ass and can be had for cheap, parts can be cheap, and they are tough as fuck.
^^^This

there are a ton of runners low to mid 90's for around 2 g's in CO. You can get yourself a great deal if you look. Pick up a cheap 94 or later. Make sure it's the 3.4 liter. You won't have any regrets. And you could still do a SAS. You can easilly do it on the cheap. Keep en eye out for front axle with the factory locker. You have a welder, yolu'll pick it up quick. It's not that hard. Once you go Toyota, you'll regret every day in that jeep. I know I do.
^^^Not this

There are a ton more aftermarket parts for the earlier years than the newer years, plus you'll have less computer crap to deal with.

FWIW, I still own a Jeep as well as several Toyotas and don't regret either. :flipoff2:
 

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You can pick up a 86-89 4 Runenr for pretty cheap. I like them because they are cheap, easy to work on and you can take the top off. I paid $200 for mine with a blown engine and 280k on it. Slapped a 1" body lift on it to tuck the drvetrain up with a Budbuilt crossmember and dual cases. I then trimmed the body back to fit 35's. Total lift on this 4 Runner is the 1" body lift and a slightly longer rear shackle to bump the back up due to the heavy top. I run stock 4.10 gears. This was registered, insured and inspected in the state of PA and driven on the highway and did fine. I also have a bunch of other stuff, but it is not all needed to go out and have fun. Here are some pictures.


I know have 37" PitBull Rockers on it and it still does fine, just no where near street legal in PA since the tires stick out around 6" from the body and is over the bumper height limit.


Easiest build setup on the cheap would be like thisif you can do the work yourself and can run across some deals.
- Dual cases or single geared t-case
- BudBuilt Crossmember
- Rear locker
- 33-35" tires
- Hammer, sawzall and welder to make tires fit
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Nicely done jtaco1. And you still have the IFS huh? How has that held up? I'm really just going to stop at 33s. Oh, and any frame issues with rot? You said PA so you live in similiar conditions I do; just curious if you were concerned with the frame at all. Thanks. =]
 

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Yep still IFS and surprisingly it has help up well. Once it breaks I will be doing the SAS. As for rust, they tend to rot out beside the gas tank since stuff gets trapped in there. My frame is pretty good, it did and still does have some holes that I need to fix, but they haven't been an issue and can easily be fixed. The back half of the frames tend to get scale pretty bad. Floor boards, wheel wells, and rocker areas are the normal body rust areas.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
So I've done research the past couple days and have it narrowed down to what I'm looking for.

22RE (don't want to deal with a carb)
Avoid 3.0
85 or newer 1st Gen
2nd Gen
1985 with the 22RE would be IDEAL; but good luck finding one

I'm driving a standard right now, but an automatic kind of appeals to me more. Should I avoid the auto for any reason? Don't really want to have to deal with clutchs and slave cylinders.

If I could grab something with a solid frame for $1500 or less I'd be in my glories. Time to start hunting.
 

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With a 22re I would stay away from the auto as is can suck a ton of power and the adapters are more $$ if you plan on going with lower t-case gears or dual cases. Also there is no real need for a solid axle to start out with. The IFS can get you quite a few places taht you would be surprised with just a rear locker and lower gearing. Mine for example has wheeled the same black rated trails at Rausch with guys in my group with SAS and 36-39" tires and a good bit more built than me. Plus the IFS is fun to beat the hell out of sicne I have all of my SAS stuff sitting in the shop ready to go.

The 3.0 can be ok/good if it is maintained and has had the HG's done. I have never had one, but know a few guys that do have them.
 

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Question for ya, you have a jeep thats great other than some frame rot and a welder...why not just cut out the rust and patch the frame?

As for your toyota questions, the 22re is pretty reliable, but its not fast at all and once you put some tires on that are larger than 31's, you are gonna be revving 3rd gear to try to maintain highway speed up hills. This isn't a problem for everyone as some people just chill and putter along, but if you have a 4.0 in your jeep, you are probably gonna be fairly unhappy with the power from the 22re. You regear to help you turn bigger tires than stock...but its still a 20 year old 4 cylinder.

The frames can have some rust problems, but really, if they aren't rotted by the time you find one now, you probably won't have a problem.
 

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With a 22re I would stay away from the auto as is can suck a ton of power and the adapters are more $$ if you plan on going with lower t-case gears or dual cases. Also there is no real need for a solid axle to start out with. The IFS can get you quite a few places taht you would be surprised with just a rear locker and lower gearing. Mine for example has wheeled the same black rated trails at Rausch with guys in my group with SAS and 36-39" tires and a good bit more built than me. Plus the IFS is fun to beat the hell out of sicne I have all of my SAS stuff sitting in the shop ready to go.

The 3.0 can be ok/good if it is maintained and has had the HG's done. I have never had one, but know a few guys that do have them.
You gonna come up here to New England in May? See how those 37's and IFS hold up to some slick new england wheeling. :D
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Question for ya, you have a jeep thats great other than some frame rot and a welder...why not just cut out the rust and patch the frame?

As for your toyota questions, the 22re is pretty reliable, but its not fast at all and once you put some tires on that are larger than 31's, you are gonna be revving 3rd gear to try to maintain highway speed up hills. This isn't a problem for everyone as some people just chill and putter along, but if you have a 4.0 in your jeep, you are probably gonna be fairly unhappy with the power from the 22re. You regear to help you turn bigger tires than stock...but its still a 20 year old 4 cylinder.

The frames can have some rust problems, but really, if they aren't rotted by the time you find one now, you probably won't have a problem.
To answer, I'm not sure if its really worth the trouble. I mean, I fix the rear for now and in ten years I'll need to reweld probably a few more places. Eventually the whole frame will look like a lego piece. That and, with the girlfriend, two dogs, camping gear, and who knows maybe a kid I'm running out of room. Something bigger to fit more stuff would be nice.

That and, well, I think its time for a change. I hear good things about these Toyotas and have been getting excited looking at them.

As for the four cylinder, I do have the 4.0 right now. THAT will be a difference I notice; especially with the bigger tires. I would prefer a 6 cylinder, so maybe I won't deny the 3.0 just yet.

My fabbing skills are something I'm working on. I do have a 220 Hobart but I need way more practice before I get serious with it. For right now, something has more room, can modify in the future when my skills are honed and funds are available, and something that I can wheel lightly right now is what I'm looking for.

Thanks for the help. Lunch break is over. Back to work I go. Thanks.
 

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You gonna come up here to New England in May? See how those 37's and IFS hold up to some slick new england wheeling. :D
I want to, but it isn't looking like it will happen with my work schedule and $$ with the other wheeling trips this year. I will however be at Takeover for the first time in almost 4 years.
 

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So I've done research the past couple days and have it narrowed down to what I'm looking for.

22RE (don't want to deal with a carb)
Avoid 3.0
85 or newer 1st Gen
2nd Gen
1985 with the 22RE would be IDEAL; but good luck finding one

I'm driving a standard right now, but an automatic kind of appeals to me more. Should I avoid the auto for any reason? Don't really want to have to deal with clutchs and slave cylinders.

If I could grab something with a solid frame for $1500 or less I'd be in my glories. Time to start hunting.
No. Forget the 85. You'll likely pay extra just for that, when in the long you'll spend more. Get started quick, cheap, and easy with an 86-95. You're not running the Rubicon anytime soon, right?

Based on this:
Something that can be inspected and insured. Driven daily. And will be able to take me through some Class VI roads. Eventually I'd do a SAS and some drivetrain work, but I'm sure that will be out of my initial funding. I figure pick something up now, drive it to work and bank some money to start building this thing the right way.
I said this:
At this point, I'd stick with the 86-95. You won't need a solid front for now, and later on when you do the swap, you'll already have the steering and bigger rear and better brakes.
If you want the removable top, your search narrows to 86-89, with a 4 cyl 22RE.
I bought a 1987 4runner with 200K on the clock. Excellent mechanical condition, decent interior. $1,200. It does happen. But not so likely with an 85, so just shoot for the 86-95 and get a good deal. If you're DD it anyway, you'll appreciate the smoother ride until you have time/money to get it to the next level.
 
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