Going low and getting floored down to the pavement is not a trait limited to trucks. SUVs can get just as low, even though they are harder to work on because suspension components are hidden under a rear floorboard. On the flip side, a well-built SUV can fit more friends and family members than a little mini-truck. If you're traveling out to a show in your ride and need to bring everyone along with their gear, a vehicle like this '94 Toyota 4Runner will get the job done. SUVs have their advantages when it comes to the usability of a show truck.
For Glen Magrino, owner of Magrino Innovations in Middletown, Ohio, he shared a love for the body styling of this everyday truck. Glen wanted to make the rocker panels of one hit the ground so much that he bought a completely stock 4Runner for his project. Within 30 days of ownership, Glen had this four-door beauty gutted and ready to be cut. Once it was ripped apart, Glen decided that he should go with an independent rear suspension, as opposed to any rear linkage. With the independent rear, there was going to be zero driveshaft travel to affect the interior space.
At the junkyard, Glen found most of the working components for the 4Runner from wrecked vehicles. Since the front frame clip of the SUV was like a Toyota PreRunner, it was too tall and would not work as a lowered adjustable suspension. He purchased a '99 Tacoma front clip because it was the closest in comparison to the stock frontend, and it worked with the steering. Once that was set, Glen picked out a rearend from a non-turbo '86 Nissan 300ZX because it matched the five-lug bolt pattern of the front, and the width was correct.
1. The '99 Tacoma front suspension...
1. The '99 Tacoma front suspension got 8-inch Pro Hopper hydraulic cylinders that were mounted to the lower control arm with a uniball. Because the cylinders will move with the control arms, they were attached to the frame with a pivoting mount.
2. An '86 non-turbo Nissan...
2. An '86 non-turbo Nissan 300ZX rear clip was mounted in with a custom back half. The IRS was chosen for its width and matching bolt pattern to the front clip.
3. To cover up the custom...
3. To cover up the custom back half, Glen made this trick sheetmetal floor.
4. The Racing Hart wheels...
4. The Racing Hart wheels with BFG g-Force tires travel up so high that the rear doorjambs had to be cut and reworked for clearance when the truck is set down.
With the parts back at the shop, it was on to swapping out the suspension. The new Tacoma front clip went in and was Z'd 5/8-inch. Then, it got 8-inch-tall hydraulic cylinders for adjustability. The brake booster was in the way of the 19x7.5-inch Racing Hart wheels when it was laid out, so Glen picked up a smaller version from a '93 Ford Mustang Cobra. At 1-1/2-feet behind the front clip, the frame was cut for the custom back half that would host the 300ZX rear. Then, the new rear clip was reworked to fit the matching 8-inch hydraulic cylinders. Behind the rearend, Glen made a custom fuel tank with baffles to prevent all the gas from sloshing around.
The frame was set to lay out, but there was more work ahead for the body to hug gravel. To fit all of the new frame space in the rear, the floor from behind the front seats to the rear hatch was cut out and discarded. Then, what was left of the front portion of the floorboard was channeled 3-1/4 inches. With the wheels back on, the rear wheelwells were cut, and the rear doorjambs were modified for tire clearance. To cover the modifications, custom wheeltubs were welded in over all four corners, and a new floor was made for the rear section.
The 4Runner was reassembled, and to Glen, it was done. Once he showed it with its incredible new stance, it was old to him and decided to sell it. Then came Samuel Robinson, an experienced mini-trucker who was looking for a cool SUV because his wife told him to find a show vehicle big enough to haul their family. Samuel discovered the 4Runner and knew it was the perfect truck for his family to roll in. Once it was under his name, Samuel had the roof rack, antennae hole, and door handles shaved clean off by Chilico Hart of Continental Collision in Austin, Texas. After that, the truck was put in the paint booth and top-coated with DuPont primer black by Shaun Harrison. Samuel has picked up the truck from where Glen left off and has plans to finish it off with some cool tricks to boot. As this low family hauler reaches its finishing stages, we sit and wait in anticipation for the results.