1983 Toyota Truck Score Becomes Cool Retro Build

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1983 Toyota Truck

A simple project turns into a full-blown restoration when one YotaTech member finds a nice, original 1st gen pickup.

These days, it’s getting harder and harder to find original, unhacked, first gen Toyota trucks. Sadly, most are either rust buckets or poorly modified nightmares. So when you run across something like this amazingly original 1983 Toyota truck, you have to take notice. And if it’s for sale, good luck not taking it home with you.

Of course, that’s exactly what happened to YotaTech member chughes96 recently. When he came across the good looking pickup last November, he immediately knew it was a real score. So he did what any proper Toyota fan would do. He took it home and began planning his next build.

1983 Toyota Truck

“So, I picked up this 1983 4×4 Pickup Deluxe last November. It is amazingly original (the tires, battery, and head unit were the only non-OEM things I could find on the truck), and that was the main reason I bought it. I had fixed people’s backyard hackery too many times on past projects, so this was a nice change.

The original paint is pretty ratty, but at least there aren’t any secrets. My original plan was to keep the paint as is, but completely restore the chassis, drivetrain and interior to factory fresh, as well as add some cool retro accessories. Things have changed a little and I figured I should go ahead and paint the body since I’ll have the truck completely torn down.”

As it always does, a little cleaning went a long way in making this 1983 Toyota truck look much better.

“I do wish it had a little more paint left. I did find a couple cool tricks for the paint. First I did a light CLR scrub to take care of some of the heavier rust. I also found online that a lot of people use Linseed oil to preserve old cars. I gave it a shot and the results were fantastic. It gave everything an awesome look. We’ll see how long it lasts. I may Scotch-Brite everything and do a clear coat, but idk if I want to do that.”

1983 Toyota Truck

Of course, the cheapest and easiest way to score the parts you need is with a donor truck. And in this case, a Craigslist find worked out perfectly.

“I found this little 2wd ’83 on Craigslist for super cheap with a broken timing chain. It had near perfect original seats and a few other small goodies that I needed for the 4wd, so I bought it, fixed the engine, swapped out the seats, steering wheel and gauges, stole the console, and a few other small bits, and sold the truck to recoup my money.”

1983 Toyota Truck

The worst part of the 1983 Toyota truck was clearly the interior. So some new parts and a little elbow grease were invested to make it livable.

“At the same time I bit the bullet and ordered a new dash pad from Toyota to replace the cracked one that was on it, as well as painted all of the dash bezels. I also did a leather steering wheel wrap. Here’s the interior as of now. Still needs door panels and carpet, but it’s way better than it was.”

1983 Toyota Truck

Likewise, cleaning up the engine bay made a huge difference.

“I also spent some time in the engine bay cleaning and painting some parts. Ill be pulling the engine and rebuilding next year, but I wanted to have a clean start.”

Next it was time for some retro goodness. A trip to meet up with another YotaTech member resulted in a huge score of awesome parts.

“Next, I went down to Arkansas to pick up some goodies from Jrheingans. He is a super nice guy and gave me a good deal on a roll bar, brush guard, floor pan, OEM radio, the little intake silencer I was missing, as well as a few other odds and ends. I picked up some sweet lights for the roll bar with the old school KC smile face covers. I also ordered some ’79 style SR5 stripes because my truck had the extra value package with the earlier style graphics. Here it is with all the goodies installed.”

1983 Toyota Truck

As good as the old 1983 Toyota truck was looking at this point, it was time to begin tearing it down and making it look like new again.

“Got back to school and started the tear down for the restoration. I’m planning on blowing the whole truck completely apart, and having both the chassis and body media blasted so I can paint both, as well as completely rebuilding the engine and any other mechanical components that need attention. Emphasis will be given towards organization, so everything can go back together just the same as it came apart, thus keeping everything nice and correct on the truck.”

1983 Toyota Truck

So far, the engine has received a complete rebuild and is looking fantastic. We can’t wait to see how Clughe’s 1983 Toyota truck restoration proceeds from here. You can follow along with the truck’s progress (and keep him motivated!) in the build thread, located here.



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.

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