97 3rd gen Toyota 4Runner Race Truck Build


Well-known member
Apr 5, 2022
Ok so I am building this is stages for @SoCal4rnr. It's a 3rd gen 4Runner, I believe it's a 96 or 97. It was 4x4 BUT now it's got my TT Motorsports Race kit, with camburg 2.5 front Hubs, a LS 5.3 with 4l80e going in it, Also going to develop a swing steer setup for this thing to run a steering box and ram, eliminate the weak link of rack n pinion, because racecar. So first start to any major project is remove everything that was stock. It rolled into my shop with the 3.4 V6 almost ready to pull and we removed the MCM Fab 4x4 LT kit, which had 2.5 co and 2.5 bypass, front diff and axles were already removed before it came in.

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Now that the stock parts were removed I cut inner fenders and got the front end install instructions done for my website now that this thing was in here for me to do that with. Once the instructions were done, except the lower shock tab parts, i'll add that soon. I cut off the factory LCA frame bulge things and cut them flush with the outside of the frame so I can plate the frame. I always cut away from frame but close with plasma, then use a cutoff wheel to cut the weld, then an air hammer to peel it off. That way you don't have a lot of score marks from the cutoff wheel trying to remove it all at once with the torch. This way very minimal score marks to weld up and grind smooth, when you are finishing up the frame. As you saw above I chopped the front of the frame off at the front of the LCA crossmember so I can put a new tube to core support lower in order to fit a large radiator for the LS motor.

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So I removed the lower cam bolt tabs/plates to do cam eliminators. In order to chop the bulge as I wanted in the rear LCA mount I bolted the arms on and bumped it out. The front of the LCA would hit the crossmember inches of up travel from where it needed so I marked how far up on the rear LCA tab it went and then chopped the rear bulge at an angle to the rear LCA mount. You can see where it was cut and I welded in a piece from bottom of frame to that mount. I also capped the end of the frame with some 3/16" plate and extended it onto crossmember past where the plates overlapped.
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So now that the frame is ready for the side and top frame plates I made some ramboard templates and scanned them into my computer and drew them up. I kinda went overkill on the plug welds but theyre all ground smooth and it made sure that the plate never would bow off the frame in the event of an extreme load. Also on the side plate i made the template so the top edge is flush with top of frame, so when I fit the top plate on I could do one nice outside corner all the way on the side. So I welded the roll of the factory frame to the outer frame plate, light grinding to make sure edge wasn't interfered with at all. Top plate has a web and ears the go onto the stock motor mount perch, since I will be welding a new plate onto that for the new motor mount bushing to bolt to. The top plate only goes back far enough so I could fully weld that also.
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Once frame was welded up fully it was time to fit the kit onto the truck in the final position. Since I added 10 ga .134 thick metal to the wise and top of the frame I redrew the UCA tabs to put them in the factory non plated locations, like the kit was CAD designed around. I got the towers to fit with some minor trimming/grinding to fit the new frame rail. The towers index off the inside of the UCA bolts so between them and the leg that extends down the side of the frame they really only fit in one spot correctly. Also you can see the 4 bolt motor mount plates I tack on as well. The factory motor mount perch has been boxed in on the bottom and gusseted with the top frame plate. Goal is to make this thing handle whatever Robert wants to throw at it. Easier to add strength in there now compared to chasing and trying to fix problems in the future.

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Ok went to the junkyard and got a couple parts for the steering yesterday. Then ordered the u-joints and other misc parts i'll need to connect it all together. The box arrives this week so then mockup can begin. I am also going to make a rack stiffener/slider for these trucks as well that I can sell since I got this here to prototype off of. First piece I got from junkard is the steering transfer gear from a nissan pathfinder. A few guys i've talked to raced with this and after tearing into it and inspecting the gears it's pretty solid piece and should work perfectly for the swing steer with the box. It is used to take the steering shaft that would normally go into rack input and this will turn it 90 degrees so the shaft will run parallel to the frame into a steering gear box from a 2wd 70s/80s chevy truck, that is ported for ram assist. Packaging everything will be tight since I don't want the steering box soo far back where the rod from pitman arm to centerlink is really angled OR the mount has to be so far off the back of the centerlink. Also don't want a super long pitman arm either. We shall see when I get the parts later this week and start mocking it all up. The factory really liquidy poop colored grease was all removed, inspected all gears and re greased with some red synthetic grease I always have used on wheel bearings and bushings on my race trucks and vehicles.

Ok got the steering gear transfer all cleaned up and the mud colored grease removed. Repacked it with Mobil 1 Synthetic grease, which I have been using for everything over the last 15 years without any failures or complaints.

Also I got the correct u-joints for the 96-04 Nissan Pathfinder Steering gear transfer. I also machined a 3/4" piece of tubing to fit over the factory steering input shaft as well. I need to remove the factory sway bar mounts off the frame in order to gain enough clearance to mount that, the steering shafts and steering box against the frame. While I was making a steering rack slider I got the bushings machined perfectly for the pivots for the swingers for this rack delete swing steering i'm going. Got the Swinger boxes and swingers tacked/welded together and mounted on the frame. Now I just need to finish the centerlink and everything else to get this stuff dialed in.

Here is some pics of the rack slider I made and sold a couple already but will post them up on my website in the near future. bronze bushings, 1/2"-20 threaded bolts for the camburg sliders, 1.25"x.375 wall 4130 tubing for the slider tube, that is machined for 3/4"-16 threaded bolts, and counter bored about 1/2" so the shank of bolt goes into the slider tube to make it essentially one piece. 1.75x.120 bushing tube with 3/16" plates that bolt to the factory sway bar mounts and the vertical rack mounting bolt. I have a truck coming in tomorrow for same thing BUT with the solo clevis so I can offer a kit for a truck with the solo clevis as well as camburg clevis AND will be offering it as a WIY clevis mounts for people who have others and can weld/notch and gusset those ends together themselves.

Ok got the rack delete kit started over the last few days. Got swingers tacked together and tacked onto the frame. Got the centerlink tacked together and everything cycling more than it ever will stock, right now it swings over 7" horizontal swing and stock rack was only a 6" throw. The centerlink has a bronze bushing on driver side and a HRSMX heim joint. The pivot for the bronze bushing and swinger pivot has to be perfectly parallel to avoid any binding. So tacked together swinger then used a piece of all thread in bolt holes and a piece of tubing in the pivot bushing, then put a digital angle finder and adjusted the angle to be exact.

Once it was swinging good I got the Nissan Pathfinder steering transfer gear and the u joints for that as well. Machined a piece of 3/4" tubing to slip onto stock steering shaft fr column. Now I was planning on running 2 u joints after steering gear, one on the transfer gear and 1 on the steering box with a small piece of 3/4 double D shaft. But doing it with the 2 joints it put the steering gear box too far behind the centerlink, so I ordered a new u joint to connect the steering box to the transfer gear. Doing this will allow the steering box to move forward 2" and with a standard 6" pitman arm length it puts the drag link rod connecting that to centerlink straight so it doesn't put any extra load onto the steering. The new joint will be here next week so I can get the box remounted forward.
I left box where it is now so In the mean time I can mockup the motor/trans and get that mounted, then check the s10 swap headers with towers to see if they need to be modified or if I need a different set of headers. Measuring everything on the floor and truck they should clear with about 1" total, but you know how that goes, never know for sure until I get it in the truck. So should be able to bolt the motor and trans together and get them swung into place and see what all will work.

Yeah it's not in the correct spot that was where a factory threaded hole was that I could use to hang it for demonstration purposes
Was checking fitment with the headers I got and the motor going back into firewall about 1" should fix header and UCA heims and tower clearance. So to do that I had to tear out the dash to remove the HVAC since it was attached on other side of firewall. Got that done this morning and now cleaning the house and myself to get ready to go watch some short course racing at the Victorville fairgrounds tonight. Should be a good time since I haven't seen any short course racing since 2007ish
Yeah was a good time. No la bufadora food truck this time. There was only 3 pro 2s racing but still cool to watch to mini stock and pro lights. Lots of good racing with the RZR classes and trophy carts too. Makes me want to get to a bigger race and watch leduc and the other big name guys run.
Ok been sucking at taking photos as the work is going BUT my Dad came down and helped me end of last week and this weekend. Got the motor/trans all mounted up. Finished up the steering BUT the steering box I got is normal rotation BUT i need a reverse rotation since the steering transfer gear flips input shaft rotation direction, which I ordered up today and should be here in a couple weeks they said. Towers won't fit with the V8 without moving it back a bunch. Also using the headers I got for this which are s10 LS swap headers I was able to make the clear everything, BUT i will need to cut and weld on the driver side V band more vertical to run the exhaust AND passenger side V band needs to be re angled as well to clear the firewall better. To get the motor/trans where it should be centered and correct angles I remove the bellhousing area from the body as well as removed the big bumped out area on pass firewall, so I could patch in the holes with a nice flat plate with a couple bends. Got those on and front end all reassembled, less brakes, which customer needs to purchase still. Hubs are assembled for mockup but need the spacer sleeve machined between bearings, packed with grease and seals installed upon final assembly, which will happen after it comes back for the full cage, radiator, shock mounts, new fuel cell, etc.

For that center link. Is there a brass bushing on 1 end and a heim on the other? Trying to understand how it keeps from twisting/rotating.