Only 47K Miles! 1981 Toyota 4X4

Former Vice President Thomas Marshall (1913-1921) famously quipped, “What this country needs is a really good five-cent cigar“. Today, I’d add to that with, “more reasonably sized pickup trucks“. We are being overrun by the likes of Brobdingnagian Silverados, F-150s, RAMs, Sierras, Tundras, and Titans. Yes, there are some other more petite models available today but by and large, today’s midsize pickups are yesterday’s full-size, and full-size, are, well, I’ve already described the situation. Now, that wasn’t the case in 1981, and here’s a standout from that era in the form of a Toyota 4X4. It’s got just two doors, a rubber floor mat, and moderate proportions – it looks good too! It’s located in Willow Beach, Arizona and is available, here on eBay for a current bid of $15,700 with 44 bids tendered.

The listing states, “If you are looking for a hard-to-find blast from the past, here it is. These guys are getting extremely hard to find, let alone in this condition. Zero rust, always an Arizona truck, mostly garage kept“.  I don’t know about that blast from the past business, a Toyota pickup would seem to be exempt from that description, at least in my book, but the condition of this example is hard to deny. It is said to be wearing its original finish and it’s decidedly deep, considering its age. The cargo bed is just perfect! It’s beat up enough that you don’t have to worry about scratching it, but it’s not so well used that it’s rusted through or seriously dented. The only nod to modernity that I spy is the black wheels – all the rage these days.

One of Toyota’s best powerplants of all time is the 2.4 liter “22R”, in-line four-cylinder engine, and that’s what’s powering this 4X4. I know from experience that it’s one of the most indestructible engines that Toyota ever designed and produced. If memory serves me right, the horsepower is a bit under 100 as it took the injected version, known as the 22RE, to get over the century mark. The seller adds, “Truck is a blast to drive. Drives like new, and everything works. Would drive it anywhere” (got that “blast” goin’ on again!). Considering this 4X4’s low mileage, the engine should have a ton of life still to go. Gear changing is a four-speed manual affair in this case.

Inside is an angular study of ’80s interiors, Japanese vehicles in particular – note the blockiness of the dash. The environment is bright and clean with demerits only issued for a split dash pad and a rip in the driver’s seat – minor items really. It’s refreshing to see a steering wheel whose center hub is not the size of a manhole cover.

The seller tells us that these items have been installed or replaced: “New Optima battery, new radiator, all new hoses and belts, all new brakes, including drums, wheel cylinders, new stainless braided lines and fluid, new exhaust with nice MagnaFlo muffler (have factory exhaust with the cat that will go with truck). Also, an all-new suspension lift with 5 brand new 31 x10.50 x15 BFG Mud Terrain Tires” – that’s a lotta stuff! This is a no-reserve auction so a sale will occur and that’s the only issue, where will it top out? The current bid level is rather healthy for what this ’81 Toyota is, wouldn’t you agree?


  1. Howard A ( since 2014) Member

    Ennnhhh( baloney buzzer) I believe these still had 5 digit odometers, and I’m sorry, these trucks were bullet proof, and at 47K would NEVER require all that was done here. It’s a great find, these literally broke in half where I come from, so a unusual find in that regard. One thing is crystal clear, someone sure loved their Toyota pickup. As far as a truck goes, there were much better. Gas mileage was the cheese here. The other “problem” I see, it’s a 4 speed made for when the speed limit was 55,( note highlighted “55” on the speedo) and not compliant with the rat race of today. I bet someone finds that out unexpectedly, but buyer beware, was another saying I steadfastly adhered to, and I did okay.

    Like 7
    • Jim ODonnell Staff

      It is a five-digit – you can zoom in on the instrument panel image.

      What’s been replaced doesn’t surprise me, especially if this truck has been parked for an extended period of time. My ’83 Celica went through its original plastic tank radiator in three years! The muffler replacement was obviously done for sound “enhancement”.


      Like 3
      • DRV

        My ’81 was rusting in 2 years or I’d still have it. It was the only stick I had that would shift so fluidly you’d wonder when shifted.

        Like 3
      • John

        Only that it quite possible has turned over so really 147K- miles are long out West…

        Like 1
    • Joe

      “at 47K would NEVER require all that was done here”, What do you expect for a 42 year old truck?? Geeezz.

      Like 4
    • Rw

      42 years old and you would not replace hoses and brakes??

      Like 2
    • Rw

      A 4 sp is not a problem imo

      Like 2
  2. angliagt angliagt

    I borrowed one like this when I went to pick up
    a Ford Consul Capri from Mike,who worked at Dave Bean-
    I wasn’t impressed,but it got me there,& back.

    Like 0
  3. Dwight

    I have an 81 that has a Diesel with a 5 speed.Was the gas model made with a 4 speed?

    Like 2
  4. John

    Only that it quite possible has turned over so really 147K- miles are long out West…

    Like 3
  5. Maggy

    All that’s missing is Ma Deuce in the bed. Tough trucks and the 22r was a bulletproof engine .

    Like 3
  6. Big C

    Yeah. Those mini trucks were great. For hauling your bicycles, or a bushel of veggies from the urban farmer market. Out here? We need big trucks, with big beds, and actual torque. Though, it’s almost impossible to find an 8ft. bed attached to a 1/2 ton.

    Like 1
  7. Rondo

    Love this truck had a 22R in my toyota Corona.Had a 5 speed in it.Was able to chirp the wheels all the way up to third gear.Bullet proof engine too.Good luck buyer!

    Like 0
  8. rexfox

    Nice truck. It would be even nicer with the stock wheels and ride height. Lose the ‘upgraded’ exhaust too, loud mufflers work on flat 4s, like WRXs and air cooled VWs, but not most other 4 cylinders. Now with a straight six or V8, a Magnaflow can sound great.

    Like 1
  9. Scooby

    Well with the bigger tires it should stretch “55” out to “65” or find a Mitsubishi 5 speed.
    Even if it’s at 150,000 miles,good Compression, no awful noises and retains it’s vital fluids I’d buy it for $15,000 and cut out 1/2″ Sheet of treated plywood for the bed ( I hate knees on metal ribs) find a topper, oh Yhea and fix the Cigar Lighter !!
    I had Twins ,, an 81 and a 83 ISUZU pup Diesels one had 598,000mil the other had 245,000mil. They both ran very well, did I say they were 4x4s with hi&lo range with 4 speeds, locking front hubs. Only paid for tabs on one license plate /only drove one at a time.
    I would put 235-75-15s on if I was going distance on Highways, 225-70-14s for Town. Fuel gauge wouldn’t move going 70mph with big tires on highway, But if I wore the big tires around town the start and stop, stoplite to stoplite I could watch the fuel Needle move Down, Fact ! Knowledge for the Wise, Big Tires= Highway and Little Tires= Town ..
    Ok lesson over ! Unfortunately I sold the Twins for $1,000 each and Kick my ssa ever since . Thanks.

    Like 1

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