Lately the spotlight has been about BMWs. This wasn’t intentional, but I can’t control whether my friends drive similar cars…if not the same car. However, here’s something a bit different. It’s not lowered, it doesn’t have a large engine, and it’s not even a car: It’s a 1986 Toyota 4×4 pickup truck.
The 4×4 belongs to Will Atkinson (same owner of the Barely Legal e30). Like most people who like cars a little too much, Will had purchased an e39 540i fairly cheap from a friend.
After a few months, the 540 became rather mundane to drive, and would need a paint job in order to become a tidy daily driver. Up until this point, if anyone ever needed to haul something bigger than a bag of groceries or an 8lb Chihuahua, we would always call upon our friend Wes, as he was the only one who owned a truck. When Will’s dad said his coworker was selling an “old Toyota Pickup” with lower miles, it was time to make some moves.
The 540 went on Craigslist and sold within a day, this left a chunk of change for the Atkinsons to use towards the truck if it checked out. A few pictures sent via text message uncovered the fact that it was an 80’s 4×4 Toyota pickup. It was a 5-Speed and pale yellow in color. If you haven’t noticed by now, we have an affection for 1980’s cars & trucks, so this truck was a must see.
On Superbowl Sunday 2015, Willum and I were conned into a delivery job. The truck was located on the coast in Half Moon Bay, but the lady selling the truck had placed an order for Wingstop in San Carlos. Being we lived in San Mateo, we would pick up the goods in exchange for seeing the truck. Thirty minutes later and an interior reeking of Louisiana rub, the Wingstop order was delivered and we were handed the keys to the truck.
Upon inspection we saw it was an 86’ model, as the truck had independent front suspension. The exterior of the truck was fairly straight and stock on the outside. The exterior yellow paint was in good shape because it had apparently been repainted at some point. There were a few scrapes and scratches, but they simply added character to the rugged nature of the truck. On the inside the interior was mostly there aside from a few oddball additions. The truck had a Momo steering wheel, aftermarket speakers, and a set of Recaro SE seats (the Recaros would later make an appearance in a different vehicle on this site). The surprising bit of information however was the odometer reading: a mere 104,000 miles in nearly thirty years. In Toyota terms that may as well be brand new. Now it was time to test drive the truck, and where we planned to go, we didn’t need roads.
It should be noted that, albeit located on the water, Half Moon Bay is more of a farm town than a beach town. That being said, lifted trucks and country music aren’t out of the norm. After toolin’ around town in the truck, it was decided that we need to do the only logical thing, take the truck off-BRO-ding son!
Behind the local high school is a strip of dirt road. We pulled over, zipped our North Face & Patagonia jackets, and shifted into 4WD Low.
The truck took to the off road section like a champ. It should be noted that most of our cars are lowered in one form or another, so being able to plow over what is essentially someone’s unpaved driveway may as well have been the Rubicon trail. We were sold.
As time went on, the truck would become the weekend hauler and bad weather warrior. Trips to the junkyard to get parts for the other cars, and spraying water through flooded streets during torrential rain storms became fan favorites of the truck. The only change has been the replacement of the Recaros with the factory style bench seat.
The irony to all of these shenanigans is that the truck is the least modified of all the vehicles, and has also been the most reliable. The 22R motor is only fast if you’re drag racing a mom pushing a stroller, otherwise 75 mph on the freeway is something that requires the time commitment of waiting in line at the DMV. The little Toyota pickup however fits right in with the rest of the fleet. It’s old enough where you don’t see too many on the road (let alone stock ones), and it also makes for a fun cruiser/hauler because it’s not too big. It even takes 87 octane gasoline. The durability of these trucks is unparalleled. What more could you possibly ask for? This is a prime example of when the factory just gets it right.