Rigby Goes From Stock To Rock - 1985 4Runner

Oct. 01, 2005 By ORC STAFF

Purchased in June of 2002 for a mere $850, this 1985 Toyota 4Runner, nicknamed Rigby, was completely stock down to its 235 Pirelli tires. A timing chain rendered the truck inoperable, so that was the first order of business in reviving the rig for the ultimate buildup.

The design goal of this 4Runner was to create a 100% trail worthy rig that could run virtually anything and still having the comfort of driving daily, if needed. The budget was to stay below $10,000 and still obtain all the critical upgrades.

Bone stock

The first upgrade was focused around the suspension. The stock front and rear springs were pulled in exchange for six-leaf Jeep Grand Wagoneer springs, circa early 1980s. The front springs bolted up to the stock location with 1.5-inch onger shackles. The rear spring mounts were relocated to accommodate the longer springs. A double shackle, revolver-style setup was used in the rear for added droop.

These leafs yield an amazing amount of flex and ride very nicely on the highway. The shocks boast 15 inches travel with ProComp ES 3000s with BudBuilt rear shock mounts and Ford F-250 front shock towers.

Sledgehammer at night
The next project was to pull the automatic transmission, which came with the stock 4runner and replace it with a dual transfer case and a five-speed tranny. The G52 tranny was placed in front of an Inchworm dual case adapter with a BudBuilt cross member. Both front and rear drive lines were resized by South Bay Driveline in San Jose, CA. The manual transmission swap was very easy and required virtually no modifications, besides the hole for the clutch master cylinder and the hole in the floor for the extra shifter.
Outer Limits
Following this was the rebuilding of the front and rear axles. The rear was outfitted with a later model, IFS rear axle that is wider than the pre-IFS axle. The third member contains a spool from Randy's Ring and Pinion with 5.29 Yukon Gears assembled by Rear End Specialties in Santa Clara, CA. The front axle was completely rebuilt and set up with the Toyota Hi-Pinion Electric Locker utilizing 5.29 Yukon gears purchased through Jim Christiansen at Inchworm. The Birfields were also upgraded to Bobby Long’s Longfields. After the axles and transmission were upgraded, it brought the crawl ratio to 110:1.

The last major modification focused around the steering. The truck was upgraded to the All-Pro Hi-Steer system with OEM FJZ-80 tie rod ends. The IFS steering box was purchased rebuilt through Straight Line Steering in San Jose, CA. A u-bolt flip kit from AOR Offroad was utilized in the front, while stock u-bolts from a ¾ ton Chevy were used in the rear.

Flexing out the suspension

Other modifications on Rigby include custom made nerf bars, rear bumper with tire carrier, front TJM bumper, 35” BFG MTs, a York air compressor custom mounted next to the stock AC unit with air tank, 6 rock lights and Hella 550s driven through relays, a custom electric relay system utilizing the stock antenna switch to power the electric locker, an Alpine stereo system with 6 disc changer, front seats out of a Honda Prelude, custom center console made out of an ammo box, aftermarket steering wheel and tachometer, and a Downey header with 2” exhaust.

Outer Limits Damage

This metamorphosis has happened within the last 10 months and involved endless hours of work. In March, Rigby made its first real run at the Hammers during the 4Runner Jamboree. All the blood, sweat and tears that went into the Runner paid off exponentially after it easily conquered the Outer Limits trail with nothing more than a few battle scars on both driver and passenger doors.

Future upgrades include 4.7:1 transfer case gears, a rear 5.29 electric locker, and a full roll cage, and yes, I have kept the total investment below $10,000.

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