Wrecked 1988 Toyota Pickup Saved From Scrap Heap

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1988 Toyota Pickup

Most sane folks would never consider rebuilding a 30-year-old pickup with 367,000 miles. But here at YotaTech, we’re all about preservation.

There’s absolutely nothing that saddens us more than watching an old truck head to the scrap yard. But in reality, some heaps are just way past saving. And those brave souls that take on such projects often regret it. At the very least, your bank account suffers. But for those willing to save a seemingly worn out 1988 Toyota pickup, as is the case with YotaTech member 86 SR5 4×4, we’ve got to give credit where credit’s due.

After all, most people wouldn’t even touch a wrecked 1988 Toyota pickup with 367,000 miles on the odometer. Well, unless they were robbing it of parts. But despite extensive damage, this faithful Toyota fan saw a ton of potential in the old ride. So several years ago, he began to formulate a plan to bring it back to life.

1988 Toyota Pickup

“I bought this ’88 base 4×4 pickup after it was wrecked. It would’ve been for parts had anyone else gotten it. I’ve torn down a ton of worn out and tired 4Runners and pickups that needed way more work than they were worth, but I try to save them as much as possible. Even though this truck reads 367k and the body is only decent, I’ve decided to revive it and make it my shop truck and eventually an Ivan Stewart replica.

When the truck rear ended another truck it mashed the front so hard it pushed the radiator into the fan and pressed the water pump in to where it couldn’t spin. The power steering pump pulley was crinkled and fuse box was broken off all three mounts.

To make parts replacement easier, I’ve decided to convert most the accessories to 4Runner style, including the a/c condenser, compressor, lines, core support, PS lines, etc.”

After yanking the damaged front end off with a tow strap, all the donor 4Runner parts were fitted and installed. A trip to the frame shop straightened things back out before a new hood and front fenders went on. And just like that, the old pickup was looking whole once again.

1988 Toyota Pickup

A little priming and painting, and all of the new metal bits looked like they belonged. But as is always the case with these kinds of projects, there were tons of little things in need of repair along the way.

“Also replaced the entire fuse box/harness since all 3 mounts were broken and both headlight plugs were crunched along with about everything else on the harness. Installed oil pressure sending unit for the SR5 cluster that’s about to be installed. Ditched the home job cold air and wooden mount for a factory air box.

Because it had a mumbo jumbo ac setup, I had to have the high pressure line mated with a new fitting to work on the evaporator. Then I ran an elbowed low pressure line to clear the canister and make the recharging easier. The a/c vacuum switch was missing in favor of an oddball vacuum switch screwed to the inner fender to turn on the compressor. That mess is gone and now it has a vacuum switch again.

It lives! Put on the head lights, radiator, fan, shroud, intake/mass air and finished sealing the a/c lines, then fired it up.” 

1988 Toyota Pickup

A little bit of prime and paint later, our fearless builder located a period correct roll bar and spare tire to mount in the bed. Heck, he even modified the tire carrier to swing out for easy access. And piece by piece, the once abandoned 1988 Toyota pickup was looking more and more like an old school off-road racer.

“I acquired this pre-runner style light bar, and instead of bolting it to the bumper, I wanted to get rid of the chrome and the bumper altogether. So I bolted it to the factory brackets using two 22-RE exhaust manifold block off plates and 14mm hardware and it holds very tight. I also added the rear pre-runner style bumper and a Carr light bar with four KC Daylighters

Next, I’ll make a skid plate, relocate and properly mount the turn signals, and add two more KC Daylighters. My sign guy made me the headlight covers to look like the ones used on the Ivan Stewart trucks. They are perforated, so at night you would never know they are on. But during the day they look great.”

1988 Toyota Pickup

Since then, 86 SR5 4×4 has refreshed the interior and added some new lockers. Then, he yanked the motor for a little refresh. But most importantly, he’s been enjoying and driving the thing. For a truck that was once almost a complete write-off, that’s an impressive feat. And we can’t wait to see what the future has in store. Be sure and follow along in the build thread here!

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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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