Daily Crawler: The SAS Toyota Pickup Done Right
It’s not often that our first vehicles stick with us. Even as a symbol of freedom for many teenagers, at an older age, just the thought of our first car or truck is enough to bring up horrible memories of breakdowns, being late for work or being ridiculed by our more fortunate peers. But such is not the case for Miller Motorsports Manufacturing Engineer, Andrew Shive, and his trusty 1994 Toyota Pickup. As his first vehicle ever, Andrew has a connection with this truck. We caught up with him in Moab, Utah between trail runs to hear the story behind this Toyota and see how it does on the red rocks. As it turns out, it’s stayed by his side for over 12 years, serving not only as a daily driver, but the catalyst for a life-long hobby.
Working for two-time KOH champion and Team Nitto driver, Erik Miller, doesn’t come easy. As an engineer, Andrew is trusted to design and implement some of the most crucial components in 4-wheel-drive off-road racing. When it came to building his own truck, Andrew applied many of the same principles as he would on a high-performing Jeep or race car. Starting with a 1994 Toyota extra cab made this a bit easier too. The Toyota comes factory with a fully boxed frame and the legendary 22RE 4-cylinder engine mated to a bulletproof 5-speed transmission. With a huge aftermarket, and many parts devoted to solid-axle swapping the front suspension, Andrew knew he could build a formidable rock crawler out of his old daily.
Starting in 1986, Toyota redesigned the Pickup to have an independent front suspension 4-wheel-drive system. While this meant better road manners and handling, it limited the articulation that can be had from the old solid-axle trucks. So Andrew made short work of cutting off the existing IFS and installing a solid axle with the help of some 4-inch lift Trail Gear leaf springs, modified to net about 2.5 inches of lift. After all, who wouldn’t want a lower center of gravity while crawling?
The front axle is a stock Toyota housing with Marlin Crawler gussets and differential armor. It sports a 5.29 high pinion gear set, with ARB Air Locker, 30-spline Longfield chromoly axle shafts, and ARP studs through the IFS hubs. Andrew even used a set of Tacoma front rotors for better stopping power. The rear axle is also a factory Toyota 8-inch housing, modified to accept a 3rd-generation 4Runner factory electronic locking differential.
Andrew also made some modifications to the factory Toyota drivetrain to help its crawling capabilities. The 22RE engine was rebuilt from top down, bored out, and reassembled with a high-flowing cylinder head and cam. Squeezing out as much power from the 4-cylinder helps with normal city driving. Leaving the stock 5-speed transmission, Andrew installed dual stock transfer cases with 2.28:1 crawl ratios using a Trail Gear adapter, with a twin-stick rear case. The double low gearing allows the 4-cylinder to effortlessly climb even the steepest obstacles. Andrew modified a Trail Gear transfer case crossmember to make everything fit snug against the body.
Like any avid hiker, a proper rock crawler is nothing without the proper footwear. Since Andrew still drives this truck on the street, he needed a tire that allowed for quiet and smooth operation on pavement, with ample grip in the rocks and dirt. The Nitto Ridge Grappler is the weapon of choice for effectively handling both kinds of driving. With its computer-engineered tread pattern, the Ridge Grappler is a quiet tire with the grip of a more aggressive off-road tire. The 37x12.50R17 Ridge Grapplers on Pro Comp La Paz wheels were a clear choice for Andrew on this build.
There’s even some custom fabrication on the truck. Protecting the rocker panels from rock hits is a set of custom-built sliders. The front and rear bumpers, as well as the bed cage are also custom—built by Andrew himself. Andrew’s careful and calculated approach to his work is evident in many areas of this build.
While Andrew’s Toyota was the black sheep at Easter Jeep Safari in Moab this year, it brought with a breath of fresh air, dividing up the JKs, JLs and Gladiators found on the trails throughout the week. This was Andrew’s first trip to Moab with his Toyota, and his excitement to get the truck pitched over on some red rocks was difficult to contain. Was it luck that his first vehicle has served him so well over the years? Or was it Andrew’s great taste in off-road vehicles and engineering skill that keeps this 25 year-old Toyota rock crawler rolling down the road? However you see it, we envy Andrew and his Toyota. There’s nothing quite like exploring new and unseen terrain with a lifelong friend. See you on the trail!
If solid-axles aren't you're thing, check out our Truck Editor, Matt Moghaddam's 1991 Toyota Pickup Prerunner!