Here's something you don't see every day: Mike Demello's '90 Toyota 4Runner has been converted to right-hand drive, sits on the doors with a stock-floor body drop, and flexes a small-block Chevy engine under the hood, instead of the original anemic 22R four-banger. This is not your mom's SUV. Demello snatched this thing from behind the fence of a public storage lot in June of 2006 after he spotted it and decided it would better serve mankind as a road-reflector remover. It was owned by David Collins, who had started the build and then lost interest after doing about 60 percent of the work.
The Porn Runner, as it's come to be called, was plucked from the yard in Las Vegas and towed to Mike's Lemoore, California-based shop, Tin Roof Kustomz. Once inside the shop, the SUV was stripped bare, so the rectangular tube chassis and hydraulic suspension could be given a good once-over. Demello also assembled the vintage SBC and topped it off with an Edelbrock tunnel ram-intake manifold and twin Holley 650-cfm carburetors. An MSD 6AL box, a Pro Billet distributor, and Super Conductor wires light off the engine, which breathes through Edelbrock headers and custom straight pipes. It's a mean, loud combo that sends the ponies through a Turbo 400 automatic tranny to a Ford 9-inch rearend with disc brakes. An Optima RedTop battery powers the engine and audio equipment, whereas a pair of YellowTop batteries work the hydros.
The Porn Runner lays hard on the asphalt, thanks to the custom frame work and Mustang II front suspension clip with drop spindles and tubular control arms. CCE provided the chrome twin-pump juice setup that actuates 8-inch cylinders up front and 10s in the rear. The hydros provide plenty of lift to untuck the 17- and 20-inch Boyd Coddington Turbine wheels and Toyo tires.
The body was heavily modified by David before Mike took delivery of the truck for the paltry sum of 7,000 dollars. David shaved everything in sight, performed the body drop, grafted in a pair of '49 Chevy taillights, and made a custom sheetmetal floor, before converting the SUV to right-hand drive. He also thought the 4Runner would look a lot better with a '59 Chevy Impala dashboard between the A-pillars, and we couldn't agree more. Mike sealed up the great fabrication work in tan primer, and Paul Contreras squirted the custom graphics.
There are a ton of questions that come to mind after coming across a custom like Mike's. Mundane driving situations like fast-food drive-throughs obviously suck with the right-hand-drive steering. Mike also admits that if he was to do it over again he would ditch the hydros and install something a bit less messy like airbags. Perhaps the most important lesson Mike learned while bustin' his own knuckles was that even though credit card interest sucks, draggin' his ride does not.