The 4 lives of a 1997 4runner


New member
Mar 30, 2022
Boy where do I start. This 1997 3rd gen 4runner has been a part of my family for quite some time. My father bought it from the original owner in roughly 2010ish for my younger sister to take to college. Back then it was a 4cyl 2.7l auto 2wd. It was headed to boulder, CO as that's where sis went to school. Since then its been through about 4-5 different lives, good and bad, and thus the story here on of its adventure through time and transformation to what it is has become today. A now and then pic below with more of the detailed Life story to come...

CIRCA 2015 - when I got my hands back on it from sis...

CIRCA 2021 - After 4 different lives in the family to what it has become today!
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New member
Mar 30, 2022
The first life of 4runner was years of harsh winters in the mountains of colorado pretending it was a 4x4... Little to zero maintenance on the drivetrain and a few rust spots forming here and there finally convinced my sister to hand over the keys. Thus began its new life....

In order to recue the truck it required a sudden trip to the rockies. Within a week I bought some plane tickets and told Elliott to pack some warm clothes and a pelican case full of tools. We were on our way to rescue the 4runner.


Landed in Denver (i think it was a friday or saturday morn). Sister picked us up in the truck, hadnt seen the thing in years and my first thoughts were, wow doesnt look that bad. Until the freeway driving began. Obviously being a 4cyl 3rz auto i was like this is going to be a great commuter truck. But the thing had little to no power and the gas pedal was to the floor, I laughed. We managed to not get punted off the road by passing semis as we headed up the eastern slope into a little town of silver plum where my sis lived. Aparently there was a water main leak under the ice and snow on the road creating what was described to us as a volcano in the ground....


For some reason the locals had a hell of a time dealing with "hole". But we will come back to this.

Once arrived at we immediately dove into replacing a few common parts and giving the thing some love and a tune up from years of neglect.

Probably spent about an hour or so tweaking things and mentally getting prepared to breakdown on the side of the road for our 1000miles road trip back to so cal...

So after tweaking a few things and just deciding to get on the road to see how she did, we jumped back intot he shenanigans of the neighborhood stuck in the "hole". Decided to get them towed out of the way

And then continued to show them how its done by just creeping through it in a 2wd 4runner. Laughed at them while doing and continued on our marry way...Elliott forgot to get photos of this part...

So after getting on the highway it only took about a mile on the highway to realize we need to t find the nearest autozone and get more parts to throw at her. Ended up doing coil packs, spark plugs and wires and a tweak to the throttle cable that was strechted out more then a whore at dollar night at the local strip club.

Lets just say the spark plugs had seen better days...

So finally the truck seemed to have a bit more power back and relatively running good now. The road trip was on and we were ready to slay some road miles...First order of business was to get over vail pass without me passing out (have issues with high altitude, story for another time) and than we had made a decision to try and get to MOAB for the night and explore bit the next morning since neither of us had been there before.


Pulled into MOAB a little late...Decided to go into arches national park and take some night shots of the arches..

Woke up the next Morning to this....Snow on the ground, 2wd, bald tires, and no chains...16276199532_843be45099_o.jpg

After topping off on some fluids and a little more throttle cable and tranny knock down cable adjustments....

we headed out back to arches for a bit more exploration. Swapped it up on a few roads, almost saw the grim reaper through one icy snow patch, but laughed it off and moved on.

Headed back out on the highway to slay some more miles. Decided to head down into the backside of Zion through "the big 5 national parks". What a beautiful stretch of highway.


Drove through Zion, saw some shit...


New member
Mar 30, 2022
Drove through Zion and saw some shit...Been trying to go back ever since


Cruzed through Virgin real quick on our way back to interstate 15...


Decided we would push through to vegas for the night. Figured what the hell, might as well not deal with sunday vegas traffic and stay the night for some drinks and slots....Believe it or not won a few hundred buck on the slots and ended up paying for the hotel room and the gas from the trip! WIN WIN...


Woke up the next moring revived and decided to get to barstow del for lunch...
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Alos took the new ride for a little strole down barstow main, wanted it to get a glimpse of its future...


Made it home safely with no major breakdowns on the highway at all which was great. Always enjoy a good road trip with good company!

Next stage of the story to come...


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New member
Mar 30, 2022
Not Long after i got the 4runner back home in so cal I started turning it into my DD. But with a little flare of course.....Put a mid travel lift on it with some OME springs in the rear and some fox shocks. Slapped some bigger tires and wheels on her. Also did an e-locker swap in the rear end with some lower gearing. She lived like this for almost a year as a DD with some occasional dirt on her tires. More or less became the mtb shuttle machine..


Loved the heck out of it during this stage. Kinda funny because it would probably still be the same if it wasn't for a head on collision accident a few months later. Broke my heart. Basically ruined the whole front core support, hood, and tweaked the front end of the frame a bit. Sat in my folks driveway for awhile after that. Eventually patched it back together enough and ended up sending it off to my older sister in the bay area to use to put around town. I had since purchased a double cab taco so didnt have a need for it anymore...


Apr 4, 2022