Fast & Frugal: The $1,000 Budget Toyota Pickup Build

By -

Toyota Pickup

YotaTech member nabs a Nineties Toyota pickup for a song and then decides to see just how far a few bucks can take it. 

With a few exceptions, we all operate on a budget. Whether that involves counting pennies on Fridays or filling the piggy bank to save up for our latest project. And as we all know, fixing up old cars and trucks typically isn’t cheap, especially when you start with something in need of serious work. But a little careful planning and a lot of elbow grease can go a long way in saving cash while getting glorious results.

And that’s the idea behind jaretstuff, an admitted “Toyota freak,” and his latest budget build: a 1991 Toyota pickup. He sold his nicely-modified Toyota T100 a couple of months ago but has since felt the itch to own another one. That’s when fate stepped in at just the right moment.

Toyota Pickup

“Flash forward to a normal sunny Saturday, my father and I were taking a load of scrap to the scrap yard. On the way driving back home he noticed an old pickup back by the weeds. So, I pulled in and asked the gentlemen if he wanted to sell. The answer was a surprising yes and I learned it has a decent rod knock to it. Not to be discouraged, I asked him the price, still expecting a $1-2k dollar answer, as they are worth a lot in my area. The number he came back with was so surprising I agreed to it on the spot.

“The truck is a 1991 Toyota pickup base 4×4. It has a 22re and 5-speed manual transmission. It is a single cab shortbed with an immaculate interior. The motor has a brand new head and head gasket. The clutch is good and new headlights, sending unit and exhaust system”

Toyota Pickup

Of course, once you start digging into these kinds of finds, problems begin to mount. And our friend’s enthusiasm quickly diminished once he got the old truck home.

“Well I got her home. Motor is definitely shot, needs a battery,  front left wheel bearing is trashed. And the brakes need work. The radio also doesn’t work but other than that definitely cool little truck.”

He was able to snag a working radio for free, at least. Then a donor motor was secured for the low, low price of only $100. Next, it was time to shine up the old paint. But then we learned the true plan for the build.

“I’m going to add an interesting twist to this thread. I’m capping it at a $1,000 total budget and will document every penny spent on the truck.
Purchase Price: $300
SR5 radio upgrade: $FREE
Taxes and Title Transfer: ?
Engine: $100
VHT Engine enamel: $20

Total as of 7/26/17: $420″

Toyota Pickup

The salvageable panels certainly polished up nicely, thanks to a little elbow grease.

“I’m using a three step process right now. I used a course polish bonnet with Turtle Wax compound about two passes. Then I use a fine bonnet with Meguiars ultimate polish. And then a hand wax with Meguiars cleaner wax.”

Next, out came the old motor. But before the donor motor goes in, it’s going to receive a little bit of a refresh, along with some other new components.

“I’m going to get a new timing chain with steel guides, a new clutch kit w/throwout, pilot and pressure plate and a new slave and master cylinder. That way I know I’m good. I will also need some gaskets for the head and exhaust. For all the transmission stuff it will be about $135 and the timing chain and guide is $30.”

So far, Jaretstuff hasn’t even spent half his budget. And you can bet we’ll be watching and rooting along as he works toward his goal. You can do the same by checking out the build thread. And while you’re there, be sure and drop some encouraging words as well!


Join the YotaTech forums now!


Brett Foote has been covering the automotive industry for over five years and is a longtime contributor to Internet Brands’ Auto Group sites, including Chevrolet Forum, Rennlist, and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among other popular sites.

He has been an automotive enthusiast since the day he came into this world and rode home from the hospital in a first-gen Mustang, and he's been wrenching on them nearly as long.

In addition to his expertise writing about cars, trucks, motorcycles, and every other type of automobile, Brett had spent several years running parts for local auto dealerships.

You can follow along with his builds and various automotive shenanigans on Instagram: @bfoote.

Comments ()