Totaled Toyota Pickup Brought Back to Life

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Most people would have written off this 1989 Toyota pickup after it rolled. But YotaTech members ain’t most people.

Nine times out of 10, totaling a vehicle means what it sounds like. The owner of the wrecked car or truck receives an insurance payout. Then, the once proud hunk of metal is sold for scrap. Or it’s crushed like an empty beer can. But if there’s one thing we’ve learned about YotaTech members in recent years, it’s that totaled doesn’t mean the same thing to these folks.

Instead, a totaled Toyota pickup is just an opportunity to pick up a new project on the cheap. No amount of bodywork is enough to scare them away. There’s simply no task too big, and no Toyota not worth saving. The latest example of this is an amazing 1989 Toyota pickup project taken on by Mckillip163. His build thread documents the incredible resurrection, and it’s downright jaw dropping.

“I got an ’89 Toyota pickup a few years back. I figured it’s time to start a build thread on it because I realized I’m never getting rid of this truck and there’s so many things that I have planned.

Just to bring everyone up to speed, I got the truck totaled. After that, I bought all new body parts, replaced the body, then did all the bodywork and painted it. Next, I cut all the stock suspension off the vehicle and put 63s in the rear. Then I used the Trail Gear 4″ SAS kit. The next big upgrade was the 2JZGE out of an ’01 IS300. The next plan is to turbo the 2JZ and I plan to document that whole process on here as I go through the steps.”

Toyota Pickup

In this case, we didn’t have to wait around to see results, either. But that doesn’t mean the OP is done with his build. Not by a long shot. The first order of business was getting that Lexus motor running properly.

“Finally got around to changing the timing belt and water pump on the 2JZ engine. The engine is so tight in there that I had to pull the radiator and cut the crossmember in order to get at the engine. After all that was out I pulled the crankshaft pulley bolt out.

This was literally the tightest bolt I’ve ever had. Bump starting the engine was not cutting it, and neither was my air impact. I ended up having to wrap the serpentine belt around itself to keep the engine from spinning and use an extremely long pipe. After breaking two breaker bars I finally got it loose.”

On went a new fuel pump, fuel pressure regulator, and GTE ECU. And while we await the turbo installation, we get some more details on the swap

“I’m using CX Racing motor mounts so it puts the engine in the perfect location. It is a tight fit but everything fits, just barely. I completely swapped the Lexus harness and ignition system into my truck because there was no way around the immobilizer. I might change it back to the Toyota key when I swap the GTE ECU in, but I’m not sure yet. 

Also, I’m using an R150 transmission. It was behind a 3.0, so it’s the shorter input Shaffer version. Then I got a custom bell housing off eBay for running the short shaft R150 behind a JZ engine. I got a stock IS300 flywheel and clutch kit and it all works really well together. Not sure how much power the IS300 clutch will hold, but I guess we’ll see.”

And that’s where this intriguing project sits as of now. But you can bet we’ll be following along to see how this once junked Toyota pickup progresses! You can (and should!) do the same by heading over 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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