Hot Toy:
JD's 5.0L HO Oz 4Runner

Http:// Short Cuts
Authors: John Douglas and Joe Micciche January, 2001

It's a great-looking 4Runner, but JD's rig has quite a few surprises under the skin.

V8's in Toys aren't new as we have seen a few but sometimes we see one that's a little special and JD's 4Runner is one of those. It's not lifted and going by the pictures it doesn't appear to be different. So what makes it special? Well for starters the steering is on the wrong side and it has a Ford 5.0L HO under the hood that looks like it was meant to be there. This is one cool Oz 4Runner.

The quest for more power

The V8 looks as if it truly belongs in the 4Runner. JD's 5.0L swap is incredibly clean, and performs exceptionally well.

Like many before him, JD tells us that not long after buying the 4Runner, he was more than happy with it, but he was not satisfied with its asthmatic 3.0L engine performance. He decided he wanted to keep it but something had to be done about the engine, so even though it was still relatively new he decided to transplant a Ford HO 5.0L V8.

But while he uses it on many trails and beaches it also had to be capable of going anywhere in the vast expanse of Oz, so it was important that the final product remain ultra reliable, comfortable, quiet and with no bad habits. Also his goal was that it had to be achieved without any body or suspension lift and without modifying the basic structural integrity of the engine bay. It was also essential that the air conditioning had to remain fully functional. An impossible task? Well, we think he more than achieved his goals.

Some creative engineering allowed a great fit in the tight 4Runner engine bay.
JD's engineering paid off, as he retained the stock radiator and has excellent cooling.

Right from the pics of his redesigned front pulley system its plain to see this is not your normal Toy V8 conversion, which usually requires many compromises.

For instance, those that have fitted V8's to Toys will know there's little space for a radiator, yet JD mounted his in the stock location. And whats more, there's a huge viscous fan mounted to the water pump.

Cooling is not a problem. In fact, he recently fitted a VDO temperature gauge and was amazed to find that the engine was actually running way too cool at 60-70C even on a recent beach run with the air conditioning going flat out. At nights it runs at 50C, so a hotter thermostat will be installed. Not many Toys with V8's require the use of a hotter thermostat.

Transmission and suspension

The stock A340H held up to the V8, but a 5-speed is now mated to the 5.0.
The interior still looks stock, even with the new levers.

It is also interesting to note that JD mated the HO to the existing Toyota A340H auto transmission, which proved to be more than capable of handling the V8 torque and HP.

But after 9 years with an auto, he has just finished swapping it out in favor of a Supra R154 5 speed. Why? No reason: he just wondered what it would be like.

Suspension is by way of Koni adjustable gas shocks with Lovell coils on the rear and Rancho 9000's on the front. JD indicated he literally spent hundreds of dollars buying, testing and revalving various shocks. Although there are still some he would like to try, its not really warranted, as he is happy with the suspension. Interestingly, many would think that with a V8 and winch up front, larger torsion bars would be essential. Not so: JD tried them all and found they did nothing to improve the overall handling and they certainly weren't comfortable. His 4Runner uses the standard bars although he would prefer coils up front. It was essential that it had to be a safe handling truck with no surprises.

One change he did make which he says makes the Toyota front end work much better was to replace the mushy rubber A frame suspension bushings with solid neoprene bushings to eliminate "scuttle shake". He says this tightens up the front for better overall handling, particularly on rough washboard roads, which it sees a lot of. He also has nothing but praise for the four-way return-to-center steering stabilizer.

Other functional modifications

The 'roo bar is a necessity in the Australian bush, and houses a Warn winch.

In Oz, for safety reasons traveling in some country areas means you must have a decent roo bar. Most country roads are unfenced and despite what many would like others to believe, there is no shortage of roos in Oz. They have a bad habit of sitting on or next to the warm road at night, with the ultimate consequence. Mounted behind the bar is a Warn 8000lb winch on a suppport JD fabricated.

JD devised a clever way to safely maximize storage space.

He has also added some other neat tricks. In the rear he has made some storage drawers that run on roller bearings so that it is easy to locate and access items required on a regular basis.

...and even more innovative thinking for storage.

The cargo barrier becomes the support for a full-length flat 6'x4' bed in the rear. He can also remove the rear seat swab and fit a custom frame that then becomes a storage area which would otherwise not exist.

Oz 4Runners have awesome fender flares! And JD doesn't want his to get mangled.

JD's 4Runner runs on 32x11.5" Michelin LTX A/T's, and he says he would not use anything else as they are an exceptional tire in the wet and dry and are equally at home on the trails. Check out the bad ass factory flares that are fitted to Oz SR5's.

Check out his page for the full conversion details plus others such as his custom made EFI injection manifold for the HO and the 110lt replacement fuel tank. Make sure you also view his Oz trip pics.

This Oz 4Runner has been built for a purpose and it is clear they have no fears taking it anywhere, which is an indication the conversion is exceptional. It makes you wonder what he would build if he was a full on wheeler......


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