Modern Classic? Low-Mileage 1998 Toyota 4Runner

It’s incredible to me that one of my former roommates absolutely destroyed a 4Runner like this less than 10 years ago, driving that stunningly-reliable rig to a salt-encrusted demise. Now, they’re borderline collector’s items, following in the footsteps of its big-brother Land Cruiser that’s similarly commanding surprisingly good money for top-shelf examples. Find this low-mileage 1998 model here on eBay with bidding at $7K and no reserve.

It’s not surprising to see yet another Toyota truck begin to climb the collectibility scale. While I don’t have much love for Japanese cars after my ill-fated (and short lived) love affair with a Subaru XT6, Japanese 4x4s are tons of fun to use and abuse. That’s the motivation behind my ongoing efforts to rebuild a junkyard find 1986 Isuzu Trooper project, which is about as basic as it gets for a 4×4 with some actual off-road chops.

This 4Runner features a basic cloth interior that remains in excellent condition, and is likely holding up better than leather interiors found in 4Runners of this same vintage. While a manual gearbox was offered, it’s near impossible to find so an automatic transmission is hardly a surprise. The color combination is attractive, with no obvious damage to the dashboard and associated controls.

The 3.4L V6 is severely under-used at this point with mileage under 63K, and racking up odometer-busting levels of use is a must-do for the next owner. Yes, you’re paying a premium for the relatively low use by its one owner, but it’s not like a 4Runner is so exotic that it can’t be used. This would be my sunny day working rig in short order, while also reserving it for any off-road excursions to the beach or the trail. How would you use it?

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Comments

  1. DayDreamBeliever Member

    Someone made a GREAT auction find… and after a good cleaning and shine-up has now listed it and is going to make a fine profit.

    And someone who would have never otherwise found the car will own it. And will be happy with it, after doing all of the deferred maintenance, plus new tires, etc.

    Apparently, the seller has a business doing just this type of transaction. It’d be pretty risky to offer all vehicles (currently 8 listings) with no reserve, but if they are bought right, it should work. Someone who wants a HD SUV with a gas motor will be bidding on the 2000 Excursion with the V10.

    Like 2
  2. Howard A Member

    Barn Finds,,Auto Trader edition,,,

    Like 4
    • Jesse Mortensen Staff

      This isn’t just some used car Howard. Try to find a nice low-mileage one. Most of these were driven into the ground long ago or are still running with over a quarter million miles on the clock. I know it’s hard to see newer looking cars here on Barn Finds, but this one is now over 20 years old and it actually stirs up feelings of nostalgia for some people.

      Like 33
      • Capriest

        This would be like striking oil here in New England. It’s valuable because even with seemingly every new vehicle available being a truck/suv/crossover of some sort you still can’t buy anything like this. It’s simple and reliable. It doesn’t have a ton of computerized infotainment crap that’s tied into every part of the vehicle just waiting to malfunction. Nor does it have A,B,and C pillars thicker than a Kardashian backside blocking all visibility.

        Like 18
      • Howard A Member

        I realize you have to cater to a wide audience, not just what I like. To me, it’s exactly that, a used car, and I am used to more unusual vehicles here. Stuff we’re not likely to see on our local Facebook marketplace.

        Like 1
      • DayDreamBeliever Member

        Well Howard, take a look, and I don’t think you’ll be able to find one of these in the FB classifieds. As has been said, most were run until the rust took over.

        Like 1
  3. matthew B steele

    I had one just like this..grey..Jesse you are absolutely right..I wish I had it.$7000 seems reasonable considering what SUVs 10 years newer, no where as capable, and rusting out cost that.

    Like 5
  4. Bakyrdhero

    $7000 for this? Take my money please!! This generation was a huge improvement on an already stellar 4Runner. I almost never see these anymore in Massachusetts unless they are beat to Heck. Nice find

    Like 3
  5. TimM

    I’m in New your still driving my Ford F-350 with it’s original 7.3 liter diesel!!! 352,000 miles rust all over it!! It’s had a plow on it after the first month I got it!! I might have to retire my old friend this year or next but I know what you mean about nostalgia!! It’s 20 years old now and it will be like loosing an old friend!!

    Like 4
  6. Coventrycat

    The only use that 4wd stick will get is if someone accidentally knocks it into gear. It’ll be a boulevard cruiser back and forth to the convenience store for beer, ice cream, and chips.

    Like 2
    • John T.

      What … No Pizza? Sure looks like a nice truck, too bad it’s an automatic.

      Like 1
  7. Stevie G

    I actually would use it year round, even here in Milwaukee. Sure, it would rust but it is still WAY cheaper than a 4 year old one with similar miles, and a lot simpler to work on, which will save money in the long run. Who needs airbags? In Milwaukee, we have alcohol lol!

    Like 6
  8. Bakyrdhero

    I for one do not see too many of these on my local Facebook marketplace. I enjoy seeing something like this on barnfinds.

    Like 7
    • Howard A Member

      I guess it’s a regional thing then. Here in Colorado, there’s just a ton of 4Runners, even the early 2 door models and many look just like this, only with a lot of miles. I suppose it’s my problem. Not really why I became a member, to see ’98 Toyota 4Runners. As members, we are paying for this, you know.

      • The_Driver

        I’m in Denver Metro (Lakewood), and I drive a 2002 Tacoma 4X4. I’d like to know where would I see a to of this, as Subarus are by far the most seen vehicles in the front range, followed by American pick up trucks!

        As clean as my 170K Taco looks, this is SPOTLESS CLEAN!

        Like 1
  9. Bakyrdhero

    I can understand Howard. Here in Mass there are a plethora of 4runners in the 1-10 year old range. I rarely see a mint 20 year old model. I’m also a Toyota enthusiast and I realize not everyone is. Variety is the spice of life though and one never knows what will pop up on Barn Finds. Something for everyone here.

    Like 7
  10. Magstar67

    These things have a huge following and this one will be a collectors item if maintained and kept lower mileage. I have a broad range of tastes and follow enthusiast groups including classic Mustangs and Vettes, Jeep CJ/Wranglers, late model trucks etc and I think the most passionate and active I’ve found are the Jeep folks and this generation 4Runner owners.

    I bought one about 2 years ago to use as a backup vehicle and realized afterwards how popular they are. Mine is a 2002 just like this but has 362,000 miles on it, runs like a top and zero rust which can be a problem on them depending on where they come from.

    I think the last one I saw in this condition sold for $15k or more if I remember right on BAT in CA

    Like 2
  11. RBowman

    Everytime I see a 4Runner (HiLux elsewhere) I think back to the British TV show Top Gear … when they (really really) tried to destroy one. I you have not seen… find the episodes on YouTube

    Like 2
  12. Marathon06

    Nice presentation, lovely colors, the interior looks very nice. However, I would make sure to have an in depth inspection done of this vehicle prior to bidding as it looks pretty crusty underneath, that is disconcerting. Maryland is harsh in the wintertime as we all know, even on a vehicle with just 62k miles. Be careful.

  13. Billy

    I agree, it does look pretty crusty on the underside and appears to have some plates welded on the bottom of the frame rail in one of the photos. Mine lived in MD its entire life, but never had rust like that underneath. It was a ’97 SR5 with 50k on it bought from CarMax in ’00 to replace a low mileage ’94 SR5 that had the dreaded head gasket recall issue. It was green on tan and spec’d out exactly like this one except it had the black plastic fender flares instead of the rubber and chrome this one has. I drove a lot of miles and beat the hell of that truck, but certainly didn’t maintain it as I do with my cars today. It got maybe two oil changes a year and I never changed the plugs as long as I owned it. A K&N took care of air filter changes. It was dead on reliable. A $13 terminal once broke off the starter and the in-dash cup holder broke more than once, but that was it in the 6 years and 200k I owned it. At 249k it was rear ended hard on the Capital Beltway by a RAV4. The impact broke every piece of glass behind the rear doors and pushed the driveshaft right through the transfer case. I was unscathed, but not happy to loose this great vehicle. I replaced it with a ’04 4Runner Limited, but that one was sold off in less than a year as it was plagued with electrical issues. Would have been interesting to see how long mine really would have lasted under heavy use.

    Like 1
  14. DayDreamBeliever Member

    I hadn’t bothered to look at all of the photos before. But the note about “looking crusty underneath” got me curious. I only see two pictures of the underside, but am struck by not just one of the body-mount rubbers being pulled out of the frame-mounted flange…. But two! And in the middle of the body, across from each other. Not good. Not good at all. One can be seen in each of the two underside shots.

    Like 3
  15. Brakeservo

    So far in my lifetime I’ve owned one Alfa, two Aston Martins, three BMW’s, four Ferrari’s, two dozen Mercedes, two Porsches, and 15 Rolls-Royces. But one of the two cars I’ve owned longer than any of the others (and still own) is my 1998 Toyota Tacoma Pickup – the truck version of the 4Runner looked at here. And of all the vehicles I’ve owned I must admit that the Toyota was, and still is the very best. Now with nearly 500,000 miles on it I drive it every day, not just locally about across the country and into Mexico frequently, I’ve personally verified more than once that it will easily break the 100 mph mark and it’s a truck I bought cheap 15 years ago because “nobody wants it” even though it is an extended cab SR5 version but it is the four-cylinder, automatic two-wheel drive version but frankly I didn’t want the V6 and have no need for four-wheel drive. I towed a BMW from Portland to Sacramento with this truck, I’ve towed two Citroens from Portland to Scottsdale with it and once towed a 1953 Bentley R Type from Chico, California to Oregon with it as well! In nearly 500,000 miles I’ve replaced three water pumps, two alternators, one radiator, a starter motor, the u-joints and untold number of front disc brake pads and rotors. The original rear drum brakes got replaced at 400,000 miles simply out of principal – they still had lining left but I didn’t have confidence in the 20 year old wheel cylinders! The truck looks like HELL, it’s been wrecked twice and between the two claims, the insurance company has paid me more than I paid for it in the first place but I keep driving it every day!

    Like 3
    • Stevieg

      Brakeservo, although I feel your truck is a way different beast than the feature truck (yours is FAR superior for actual work…an inline 4 will always have more torque than a v6 just because of cylinder layout), I will say I am VERY impressed with both the truck & you. You are obviously a man with at least a little bit of money, otherwise you wouldn’t have that impressive list of cars owned by you (whether current or past). And you still choose this clapped out Toyota as your daily driver. That truly says something about humility & being down to earth.
      You might be wealthy, maybe not. You very well could have bought these cars as projects & got your hands dirty restoring them yourself. Maybe you inherited well & lost money on all of these cars but still do it out of love. Or maybe you have more money than God. Whatever. Doesn’t matter. That Toyota has been a loyal sidekick to you & you are loyal to it. I loved your story regarding your Toyota.
      Sure, this feature truck is in very good shape, it will never be the old war-horse your truck is & I respect that! Good job!

      Like 1
      • Brakeservo

        Thank you for your very nice words – life is dynamic and things change. There was a point I could get up in the morning and ask “Ferrari, Bentley or Rolls-Royce today?” But keep in mind, I’ve never bought any new car in my life, thirty years ago when my neighbor’s were driving new Honda Accords, Minivans or Ford Broncos, I spent the same dollar amounts on my exotic sports cars. The difference was the neighbor’s new cars always went down in value, at that point in history, all my cars went up! But through it all, if I needed something I absolutely had to depend on my old Toyota truck was it. I suspect I will probably drive it for the rest of my driving life, perhaps another 25 years, who knows?

        Like 1

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