1987 4Runner SR5 Turbo Restoration Project Is Crazy Satisfying

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First gen 4Runner SR5 Turbo fell into the hands of an owner who was willing to meticulously restore it inside and out.

Nobody likes to see a rare vehicle go unloved or underappreciated. Fortunately, YotaTech forum user Charles4x4 is not the type of person to let that happen. Having owned two SR5 Turbo 4Runners previously, he decided to find one he wanted to keep. After a couple of months of eying this black 87 example, he negotiated a price he felt was fair and immediately got to work in returning it to its glory days.

Having a plan is essential to any project’s success. Charles began a list of parts he needed to repair or upgrade the truck, and then started ordering the pieces. Fortunately, the truck came with a recent engine rebuild with all the paperwork to prove it. Except for needing new brakes and suspension, the old Toyota was mechanically sound. This leads us to the first part of the interior restoration: the teardown.
Stripped Turbo 4Runner Interior

Charles began tearing the interior out piece by piece, careful not to damage any of the plastic components. Seeing an entirely stripped out interior is often an indicator that it’s going to stay empty for the most part. However, it’s quite beautiful in this case, knowing the thorough restoration to come. He laid out all the interior pieces he intended to spray with a special flexible interior paint and got to work. The results are quite impressive!

4Runner Interior Restoration

Charles was not fond of the black exterior, so he decided right from the beginning that it would be repainted. Before sending it off to the paint shop, the rear suspension was replaced, with an added OME 2.5-inch lift kit. The lift proved to be a bit too high for his liking, so one leaf spring was removed from the rear to make it a tad more manageable. After a small leak in the rear diff was repaired, the truck went off to the paint shop.

Turbo 4Runner Fresh Paint

In lieu of the black paint scheme, Charles4x4 went with the Toyota OEM Metallic Brown. The paint shop seems to have knocked it out of the park, and with its return home, it’s time to put the interior back together.

4Runner Interior Pieces

Organization is, of course, a key element.

“I have also learned that Zip-lock baggies are your best friend in a teardown,” said Charles4x4. “I label a baggie with a sharpie for every part of the truck (Drivers Door, Rear Carpet Trim, Tailgate, Mirrors, etc). It makes reassembly so much easier.”

After spending countless hours on restoring every little bit of interior plastics, Charles4x4 even went as far as to find a host of barn-find 4Runners for some additional pieces. He recovered a passenger seat to have the fabric re-purposed to rejuvenate the appearance of the driver’s seat.

Turbo 4Runner Restored Interior

It’s clear from the interior pictures that perseverance pays off. Nothing on the inside of this old 4Runner was left untouched, and it’s left looking like it rolled off the factory floor yesterday. The interior isn’t where that theme stops, though.

Restored Turbo First Gen

Unsatisfied with the available soft top options at the time, Charles4x4 reached out to Softtopper, who made him the very first rendition of their 4Runner top. Couple that with all the new front end parts, trim pieces and the James Dean Creations reproduction vinyl and you’re left with something unarguably gorgeous. It’s always incredible to see a plan fully come together. A tip of the hat to you, Charles4x4, for not only keeping such a rare classic 4Runner on the road but for making it the very best it can be.

If you’re interested in seeing the nitty-gritty of every detail, Charles4x4 did an outstanding job outlining every single aspect of this build in his original thread down to LED interior bulb conversions.

Photos: Yotatech Forums

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