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Ultimate 80s 4×4: 1987 Toyota 4Runner SR5

Some vehicles just speak to you immediately upon viewing them, and that’s the feeling I get when I gaze at this lovely 1987 Toyota 4Runner SR5 with its gorgeous red paint and silver decals. The first generation 4Runner is possibly the purest expression of the breed, with a 22R engine up front and a removable hard top out back, and this example comes with the preferred 5-speed and just over 200,000 miles. Find it here on eBay with bids to $14,077 and the reserve unmet.

For me, it’s all about the color scheme. Most every first-generation 4Runner you see is painted some drab shade of silver, black, or white, so to see one looking resplendent in red paint with sharp decals and shiny chrome bumpers really is a feast for the eyes. Of course, the other bonus is seeing that the fenders haven’t been chewed up by rust and that the chassis hasn’t been modified with huge mud-hungry tires and aftermarket wheels.

The interior is spartan and drab, which is in keeping with 1980s Toyota traditions. The gauge pod on top of the center stack is a cool feature, and I believe this was optional in Toyota trucks of this vintage (I seem to recall spending an inordinate amount of time looking for this cluster in junkyard trucks and never finding one.) The 5-speed gearbox is the preferred transmission for many 4Runner enthusiasts, though one could argue an automatic is a better set-up for off road use. Either way, this truck is going to hold its value for the long-term due to its clean condition, not the transmission choice.

The 22R engine has a fairly well-established reputation for being bullet-proof, and 200K miles is considered by many to be barely broken in. Still, the seller reports that the engine has been rebuilt previously and has about 20K on it since the tear down. The truck was a long-time family owned example before making its way to the seller, who estimates he is the fourth owner. The A/C still works and the seller believes it’s never been in an accident; all in all, it looks like a great truck and one deserving of a strong final number.


  1. Big_Fun Member

    Brings back memories of spring break in ’91. Four of us left KC in one just like this and split the driving. Arrived in Gainesville, TX, and thought we were almost there…in reality, just over halfway to Galveston. Remember driving through Dallas on a Saturday morning, listening to Mexicali Blues on cassette. That was my first time hearing the Dead.
    When we got to Galveston, unbolted the top and carried it up to the second floor condo balcony. Then cruised Seawall Blvd. Great times.
    I believe there is a switch on the left side that is the ‘Clutch Start Cancel’…

    Like 6
    • SteveG

      I had an 88 Ranger with that exact feature.
      Never used it much.

      Like 2
  2. B.B.

    Oh my goodness this one’s going to get expensive.

    Like 1
  3. wuzjeepnowsaab

    Cool Runner.

    That out of the way…and apologies to the sysops but there doesn’t seem to be a way to send feedback or comments on the site other than this.

    First, I’d be a member subscriber if there was a fix to this broken database. I mean it’s a database and I get that it must be difficult because it’s been ‘broken’ for so long…but it’s a database. And second, just as a feedback, the ‘report comment’ really shouldn’t be right beside the “Like” button. That’s where the “Reply” should be.

    Anyway, good luck with the site…hope you can get it dialed in…I visit it less and less these days, though I’m sure I’m not missed (lol)

    Like 5
    • Howard A Member

      Well, I for one enjoy your comments, and you can contact the staff through “mail@barnfinds.com”. Not sure what your gripe is, I think the site is quite well run. Remember, these are 2 guys doing what they love, not some mega east coast automotive entity with bottomless pockets. I’ve seen you many times, and you must enjoy the site, but the real credit goes to the writers, and it’s why I’m a member. They have a rough job, many times writing about something they never heard of, and get lambasted for it, got to be harsh. I say they all do a great job, clearly, the staff doesn’t hire idiots( or foul mouthed ex-truck drivers) so as the self appointed BFs goodwill ambassador, consider becoming a member and by all means, please stick around, eh?

      Like 9
  4. Bamapoppy

    I had an ‘86 one-ton with the 22RE and 5-speed and I still miss it. This will be a treasure for the winning bidder. The only negative is the 1st generations sit different than the next gen ones. If you’re thinking of one this is one worth pursuing.

    Like 1
  5. Stan

    5sp manuals are the preferred off roaders transmission id say Jeff.
    Anyhow these are classic Toyota underpowered…so not much breaks…and slower than molasses, and a great off the hwy. Manual hubs too.

    Like 2
  6. Howard A Member

    Another of the many vehicles I had, and one of the 2 or 3 Asian brands. This truck was a direct kick in the gonads for the 2 door Jeep Cherokee, also new at the time. I didn’t care for the 4 Runner. Mine was a V6 and automatic, and while fancy for it’s time, I’d take the Jeep anyday, current love of Jeep notwithstanding. Too complicated, and costly to repair. The concept was great, and new 4Runners are nothing like this. A shame, but revolutionized the whole SUV concept, regardless of the mechanical wizardry they’ve become.
    2 doors are not very common, except here in Colorado, where, I’ve never seen so many that didn’t have body panels missing. The “inmate” upstairs from me has one he bought new just like this, with that center console. It has an altimeter, and “angles of no return”( side tip and incline), practically useless for where most of these went, but gee-gaws are gee-gaws. It’s a great find, and being in such nice shape, be the last 4×4 you’ll ever need to buy.

    Like 3
  7. Mark Z

    Was working at a Toyota body shop in the 80s when one came in with minor damage and the insurance adjuster wrote it as a pickup with a topper,he had never seen one before. Had several Toyotas with 20 and 22R motors, they were bullet proof.

    Like 1
  8. suprarossa

    Even the seller doesn’t know what engine it has. It’s a 22RE with the EFI intake about slapping you in the face in the engine picture. Fantastic engine and I’d choose my ’86 with this engine over my ’89 with the 3.0 V6 any day. Those stupid JC Whitney catalog side moldings have to go, but the traditionally bad Toyota single stage red paint has held up fairly well.

    Like 0

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