Local Legend Mai-Tai-Yota


Well-known member
Apr 27, 2022
The story of this truck begins as all good ones do with the death of my last one. Clean-Dezert 2011 I thought I had my 5 lug Tacoma sorted out enough to venture further out and hang with some DR OGs and meet up with a group that would grow to become the DMC. I showed up in time to see Mikey grenade his transmission off the ant hill and a random bro roll his truck on the road the Del Taco. I knew I had found my kind and proceeded to rip the front corner off my truck giving 84Andrew a ride. I hitched a ride in the back of Kellan's tin top Samurai to grab my trailer and had plenty of time to devise a plan to finally rid myself of the problematic Tacoma.

Once home I quickly parted out the truck and went shopping for the perfect base vehicle to build the ultimate off-road machine, an 89-94 2wd Toyota Pickup. For the tidy sum of $400 I drug one home complete with blown up motor and by morning had it stripped down for phase 1 of what turned out to be a lot of build phases. 5 maybe?
First step was to design and build the front suspension. I forget all the specs but something like 6in over per side pulling 18" travel from a 10" shock using a modified stock spindle, a reverse strut lower arm, and tube uppers.
The rear end was built simple with a 3 link setup and an Xrunner axle which was wider and still 5x4.5 lug. A simple bed cage worked to hold the shocks and relocate the stock gas tank. It held up surprisingly well despite all the naysayers but eventually did start cracking off the frame
First trip out was Mojave Rd with some old friends in late March 2012. I had met my goal of building a new truck before my second son was born in April. Made it through the trip was no issues and it felt great to be out there again. The shock tuning was atrocious and the stock gears did not like 33in tires but it had so much travel it didn't matter.
The single cab was fun to whip around like a go cart on trails too small for a truck but it got to be a bit of a handful when it came to rougher sections and the lack of storage space was getting a bit annoying. I tracked down a clean extra cab, some bits of frame rails and cut my truck in half.

First trip out was an epic trek to the grand canyon where all that extra room was sure appreciated.
Along the way I kept redesigning, strengthening, and improving upon the truck.

Fabbed spindles, Dana 44 hubs and Willwood brakes were added to the front

I was always looking for more up travel in the rear and added bypass shocks



More great trips ensued and friendships enriched but a series of events unfolded where my motor blew and I bought property to build a house so the truck took a bit of a hiatus as life took over for a couple years.
I took the opportunity of this hiatus to makeover the truck again. More power would be nice and I felt my luck was running a little thin not having a cage to strengthen and protect.
A Lexus LS400 was sourced to pull the motor and trans from

The engine swap and wiring went fairly smoothly and eve though the first test drive ended up stuck in a rut, the truck was back on its feet and ready to go
The onslaught of trips started again and the increase in power with the V8 as well as the increased rigidity of the cage made it all the more fun.
Most of this period was spent trailer-ing to the desert as I never put the windshield back in. It was good to be back but that summer itch arrived and out came the Sawzall
I was fairly pleased with how the truck was working but I wanted increase the reliability a bit as well as expand the gas and storage capacities. I added a 32 gallon fuel cell, 40 spline full floater nine inch axle, sway bar, and dual spares mounted to a big trunk lid
Rear End Redo Assy 3.JPG
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Of course I am never pleased with good enough and cut the roof off, redid all the lacing, and replaced it with a non sunroof model to gain a bit of clearance inside.

I got it back together in time for an awesome Arizona trip and a few others

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This round of trips ended with a RTT mounted and a ride home from AAA with a hole in the block
The past year has been agonizing as I swapped the motor out.Got it back together just in time for a redemption trip to KOH. Made it through the weekend with no issues. It felt great to drive again.

Of course I can't leave well enough alone. Needed to upgrade the carrier bearing so went with an Inland Empire polyurethane meant for a ranger but fit right in. Also put a new muffler on. Hoping to be a bit louder as it was difficult to hear the shift points with headsets on.

Also doing a spring swap and finally installing limit straps.
This makes me want to build another Pickup.

By the way, I vote for a return to the '90s front clip. Make Toyota Pickups great again.
100% agree. His tires should be 95% outside the fiberglass just like mine.

I think he needs the extra hood length to fit the motor and radiator maybe??