Back to Basics in a Longbed Way 1986 Toyota pickup
We can get into that age-old argument of which is better—a static drop or air suspension—but you know what they say about opinions. In the mid-’80s, air suspension wasn’t available for mini-trucks, so custom truck owners had no choice but to cut springs to get their trucks as low as possible. Central Florida resident and Negative Camber member Tim Gilbert wanted to bring an era-correct build to the forefront of the mini-truck world but couldn’t seem to find a truck that would complete this mission for him. His friend and club member Randy Frederick, whom he named the “Parts Hoarder” due to his talent of locating hard-to-find parts and just, well, hoarding them all, had an ’86 Toyota pickup in his possession that Tim had his eye on.
The pickup was only under Randy’s possession for around six months, so he hadn’t really developed an emotional attachment to it. When Tim asked about buying it, Randy decided to let her go based on Tim’s reputation of building and caring for his vehicles. The goal once Tim took possession of the Toyota was simple.
“I wanted to build a throwback with some modern twists,” Tim says. “Sort of like when I was in high school but with a better budget.”
His decision to static-drop the Toyota was his core directive, as he was going to slam this Toyota as low as possible without tearing it up on the road.
Of course, there were plenty of steps before Tim got to the suspension modification part of the build. The engine was solid aside from some oil leaks and some minor rust spots but that’s something Tim could handle easily. Once he got all the ideas of what was going to take place and what he was going to do, he set a finish date of the Lonestar Throwdown show in 2017 in Conroe, Texas as his debut.
I wanted to build a throwback with some modern twists. Sort of like when I was in high school but with a better budget.
The first step was cranking the torsions down and adding the 4×4 fenders on each side. From there, Tim and his son Evan began taking the truck apart for all the frame modifications to complete the stock floor bodydrop. Tim enlisted Pro Fab Florida in Deland, Florida, for all the framework and while they were contouring the frame to his liking, the bed of the truck was brought to Ryan at another section in Pro Fab Florida for the sheetmetal work. The stock appearance was kept but the floor bed was raised 2.5 inches to accommodate the bodydrop. At the house, Tim and his son cut a massive 40×40 Britax sliding ragtop into the roof for those bright sunny days of cruising.
Once Ryan completed the sheetmetal in the bed, it was brought to Auto Images in Sanford, Florida, to add the Grant Fab rollpan and remove all the rust while correcting all the body flaws that were due to the truck sitting. The bed was coated in Red Raptor lining while the cab was sprayed in an Audi Nardo Gray, which would later be named “SEMA Gray” the following year. At this point the frame began the modification process for the 2.5-inch bodydrop and was painted Por15 Black and reassembled. The front suspension was modified using built-from-scratch upper and lower control arms from Pro Fab Florida. A Schrader valve was mounted inside the gas door to inflate the rear air shocks when he needs to drive smoother without hitting the tires on the body.
The frame was at the house as a roller waiting to get the painted cab and bed back so the Gilbert boys could reassemble everything. The interior was pulled previously, so during the downtime of waiting, Tim brought the interior to Eric Cryan at Advanced Audio Concepts in Palm Beach, Florida. Bright red was wrapped over everything visible, along with bright red carpeting. Since Tim has never been big into stereos in any of his vehicles, he searched for what is called a “delete piece,” a rare option that Toyota made, and he installed it to cover up the gaping hole left by the stock stereo.
With the waiting game still in effect, Tim had the motor sitting on a stand, and decided he would dress it up. Steve Mole from Steve’s Mobile Automotive Service got the stock 22r running right and tuned for the new carburetor and head along with a brand new Offenhauser intake. New pieces were added for updating the older motor sporting a cool 169k miles on the odometer.
At this point, as you can imagine, LST 2017 had come and gone as he missed his complete date deadline, which actually allowed for more time to get everything right and working without the time crunch. Tim decided that he would replace all the glass in the Toyota for a cleaner look. He replumbed the gas tank and wired everything back together with his son Evan. Under the hood, Tim chose to paint the motor black and the valve cover red. He replaced every single bolt he could get in stainless button head Allen bolts. All the unnecessary items were removed in the engine compartment to give it a cleaner look.
Tim wishes to thank his wife Dawn, his son Evan and his daughter Kenzi for all their support and assistance in building this truck together as a family. He wishes to thank his brother Todd, Randy Frederick (the Parts Hoarder,) Ryan Spehn of Pro Fab Florida, Don Reeves of Auto Images, Eric Cryan of Advanced Audio Concepts, Pinstripe Mikey, Danny Terneus and all his NC brothers and sisters worldwide. They all had a hand either physically or emotionally to motivate Tim to create a masterpiece that in my eyes settles the debate of static or bagged. You win, Tim!
1986 Toyota pickup Xtracab Longbed
Club Affiliation: Negative Camber
- Front Suspension: narrowed upper and lower control arms, Belltech drop spindles, torsion bars cranked down and indexed, cross drilled rotors, new bushings, ball joints and tie rods, Monroe air shocks
- Rear Suspension: stock leaf springs with one removed and pulled apart, painted with 4-inch Belltech lowering blocks, Monroe air shocks
- Engine: 22r 4-cylinder, Flow Tech stainless header and Pro Fab Florida full stainless exhaust, Vbands at every connection on back to the rollpan, Offenhauser intake, Weber Carburetor, LCE billet pulley and plug wire separator, Champion welded aluminum radiator, electric fan
- Transmission: 5-speed manual, cube speed short throw shifter from Australia
- Rearend: stock, detailed and painted
- Audi Nardo Gray paint done by Don Reeves at Auto Images in Sanford, Florida, hood graphic done in carbon flash metallic pinstriped by Mikey Ayers, trim parts including bumper ends, cab trim pieced and bed stone guards done in carbon flash metallic off a special edition Corvette, color matched bumper and Toyota 4×4 grille with chrome TRD badge, shaved hood squirters, 4×4 fenders, 40×40 Britax sliding ragtop, sourced clear Kingcab one piece back glass, GTS Nos smoked taillight covers, chrome tailgate handle from 89 Toyota modified to fit, Grant Fab welded-in rollpan with frenched tag, red anodized door striker covers, 2.5” stock floor bodydrop with underbed mini C-Notch, bed floor raised for bodydrop, Red Raptor liner done by Auto Images, ceramic coated by Danny Terneus
- Interior: billet Budnik Switchblade steering wheel, red stitched black leather knob, ACC red loop carpet kit, seats wrapped in red leather by Eric Cryan at Advanced Audio Concepts in West Palm, Florida, headrests removed, headliner done by Howard at Complete Auto Upholstery in Altamonte Springs, Florida, parts installed by owner and his son Evan, Carbon painted steering column, Nardo Gray and stitched dash pad in Red Hot Red, rare factory Toyota radio delete from “Parts Hoarder” Randy, aircraft seat buckles by Seatbelt Planet, Billet Specialties window cranks
Wheels & Tires:
- Wheels: 17×7 Budnik Switchblades, redrilled to Toyota from an Astro van by Dr. Rim in Orlando, Florida, rehooped from 17×8 and 17×9 to 17×7, positive offset by Chris Coddington at HRBB Wheels
- Tires: 205/40R17 Sentury UHP