Beater Toyota Pickup Gets New Lease on Life

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Toyota pickup

This 1981 Toyota pickup needed so much work the owner considered getting rid of it. But instead, he turned it into this awesome off-roader!

Many of us have been there before. You buy a truck with the intentions of fixing it up. But after closer inspection, things are much worse than you thought. You begin to wonder if the truck is even worth fixing, or if you should cut your losses and sell it to another poor soul. Or maybe even use it for parts, if things are bad enough. And that’s exactly what happened with Yota Tech member oleblue22 after landing this 1981 Toyota pickup.

“Bought this ’81 last July to originally just make a beater truck. Found out the transmission was bad in it, and the motor had a bad rod bearing. Discouraged, I went back and forth on whether to sell the truck or not.”

Toyota Pickup

Despite these discouraging findings, there was just something about this old Toyota pickup worth saving. So the OP dove in, head first, with the intentions of turning it into something special.

“Rebuilt the motor from the crank up, had the block bored .20 over, head redone, and all new internals put in. Found a G52 transmission for cheap and put it in along with dual transfer cases and 4.70 gears. Went with Yukon Zip lockers and 5.29s in the front and rear ends. 4” lift springs and high steer.

Went over the whole truck with raptor liner, OD green, and fabbed up a front winch bumper. Threw in some Honda Civic seats and fabbed up some diamond plate door panels. Just got it driveable last weekend. Does pretty good on the streets and flexes like a champ.”

Toyota Pickup

And he makes it all sound so easy! But as we already know, this was a job that took a ton of work. And it’s clearly evident in the pictures the OP provided. Even parts like the front bumper required a ton of fab work, as he explains in further detail.

“I welded a 2×4 piece of square tubing to the frame with drilled plates on the end of the tubes. The bumper is bolted to that with four grade 8 7/16″ bolts. The bumper started as a 6′ piece of 2×6 U-channel. I notched, bent it, and capped it with 1/8″ plate. Just made a center console today out of a few ammo cans I had laying around, I’m proud of it.”

Toyota Pickup

It’s quite the transformation for what was once a lost cause of a Toyota pickup. But we’re pretty sure it isn’t done just yet! So head over here and keep up with the progress of this awesome little truck. And be sure and drop some words of encouragement (and thanks) for the OP!

Toyota Pickup

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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