There’s nothing more inspiring when it comes to a new build than having no inspiration at all except for what you come up with yourself. When Tony Rispoli of Orlando, Florida, set out in December 2012 to build a Toyota 4Runner, his entire reason behind changing from building a third gen to building a fourth gen was that he’d never seen one before. Tony was happy to build against the grain and forge a unique path, without having to worry about what had been done before.

Trunk of Tony Rispoli's custom Toyota 4runner

“Tony found a way to keep the entire back seat and include all of the necessary systems as they were designed by Toyota.”

Rear quarter view of Tony Rispoli's custom Toyota 4Runner.

Would you believe this 4Runner still has a complete back seat?

Custom Toyota 4Runner Engine bay

Starting a build that’s never been done before does offer up a key pro and con: pro, no matter what you create, it’ll be unique; con, where do you begin if you don’t have any examples to draw from? In spite of the con, Tony didn’t hesitate. He jumped right in and got to work on his ’03 4Runner. “My goal was to be able to build a reliable truck that I could drive whenever I wanted to and to take friends and family with me when I do it,” Tony says of his build goals. Having started a frame for a third generation 4Runner prior to deciding what to do with the ’03, Tony figured he could modify the existing frame slightly to fit the newer, bigger body of the fourth gen. Carrying passengers was a must, so losing the backseat wasn’t an option. Tony found a way to keep the entire back seat and include all of the necessary systems as they were designed by Toyota.

Truck Specs:
Tony Rispoli

2003 Toyota 4Runner

Orlando, FL

Relaxed Atmosphere


  • Stock Toyota 4Runner 4.0L V-6
  • Low-clearance X-Runner oil pan to allow motor to drop 3 inches
  • Shorter Toyota Tacoma radiator
  • Custom-built intake manifold by David Sheehan
  • AirRaid throttle body spacer
  • K&N intake
  • 2.5-inch exhaust
  • Magnaflow muffler

Chassis & Suspension

  • Performed by Tony Rispoli and Jimmy’s Rod & Custom
  • IFS custom-built by Jimmy at Jimmy’s Rod & Custom
  • Custom-built gas tank fabricated by David Sheehan
  • Custom rear control arms
  • Toyota MKIII Supra Turbo IRS
  • 4.30 gear ratio
  • Mustang rack-and-pinion
  • Slam Specialties RE-7 airbags
  • Belltech Toyota pickup drop spindles
  • Monroe front shocks
  • Custom control arms in the rear
  • Ridetech Shockwaves rear shocks with IRS air ride
  • Wilwood Dynalite four-piston brakes
  • GM Hydroboost brake booster
  • Accuair management system

Wheels & Tires

  • 22×8.5-inch Raceline Imperial polished billet wheels with painted spokes
  • LX-9 255-30-22 Lexani

Body & Paint

  • Performed by Tony Rispoli with help from Shane Shewfelt
  • Body-dropped with stock floor
  • Shaved washer fluid sprayers
  • JDM Hilux surf billet hood with black painted inserts
  • Deck lid license plate box trim modification to delete stock emblem
  • Sikkens paint Lexus Premium Silver, BMW Graphite metallic, teal metallic and orange pinstriping
  • Paint by Victor Salas
  • Pinstriping by Mike Ayers of Pinstripin’ by Mikey

Interior & Stereo

  • Performed by Tony Rispoli and Shane Shewfelt
  • Katzkin leather on the OEM seats
  • Suede headliner
  • Black carpet
  • Stock dashboard with painted trim
  • Painted console
  • Billet Specialties throttle steering wheel with anodized black Lecarra adapter
  • Kenwood BH 672 head unit
  • Massive Audio component speakers
  • Massive Audio 10-inch subwoofer
  • Massive Audio Nano series amplifier
  • Optima Red Top battery
  • Lizard Skin sound deadener throughout vehicle including firewall
  • Stereo by Alvin Lawrence at Auto Fanatik

In October 2012, after two years of hard work and fabrication, the 4Runner was finally out to the public and being driven to shows with no problems at all. Tony spent six months enjoying the truck and showing it before he decided it was time to roll it back into the shop for a full repaint and interior work. He spent the summer and some of the fall completing these projects, with help from Alvin Lawrence on the paint and Shane Shewfelt on the interior. Having done all of the work on the build himself prior to this (except for the front IFS clip done by Jimmy Graham of Jimmy’s Rod & Custom), Tony decided it was time to get some outside help. He definitely chose the right people for the job, because the result is strained necks for anyone passing by the truck.

Interior of Tony Rispoli's custom Toyota 4Runner

“Tony kept the interior simple and tasteful with katzkin leather, a suede headliner and teal accents on the trim.”

Simple and tasteful interior with Katzkin leather, a suede headliner and teal accents on the trim.

Front quarter view of custom Toyota 4Runner lowered to the ground

Tony’s ’03 Toyota 4Runner looks at home on the ground.

Tony kept the interior simple and tasteful with Katzkin leather, a suede headliner and teal accents on the trim. Staying with the lean and clean theme, Lexus Silver and BMW Graphite with a teal and orange pinstripe adorn the exterior. The 4Runner is finished with 22-inch Raceline Imperial wheels.

Custom Toyota 4Runner underside

Debuting the finished product at Slamfest 24 in September 2015, Tony’s 4Runner received rave reviews and compliments. The future of this build is uncertain, though. Tony hasn’t yet decided if he will make any additions or changes, or sell it and start yet another amazing build. For now, we are more than happy to stare at this one. ST

Interior door panel with teal accent.

“Debuting the finished product at slamfest 24 in September 2015, tony’s 4Runner received rave reviews and compliments.”

Special Thanks From the Owner: “An extra thank you goes out to Shane Shewfelt, Victor Sala, Jimmy Graham, Dave Sheehan, Alvin Lawrence, Rigo at Hornblasters and Relaxed Atmosphere Florida and the rest of the Floridiots. Most importantly of all, special thanks to my caring and understanding wife for allowing me the time spend in the garage finishing this build before our daughter was born.”


Editor’s Note: A version of this article first appeared in the August  2016 print issue of Street Trucks.