Vintage Chic Weekender: 1981 Toyota Dually & Camper

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We often talk about finding a vehicle that conjures up memories of a toy Hot Wheels or Matchbox car we had as kids. For some reason, this 1981 Toyota custom dually pickup with matching camper here on eBay is reminding me of a truck and trailer set I had as a young’un. In near-perfect condition, this Sunrader conversion features the can’t-kill-it 22R motor and a pretty sweet extended cab conversion with a nicely appointed 19 ft. travel trailer behind it. Thanks to Barn Finds reader Jim S. for the find!

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With only 21,599 miles, the truck and trailer combo remains as new inside and out. The 5-speed manual transmission will help you get as much as you can out of the 22R, which isn’t much – but it will run forever, and far outlast the body that it sits in. What’s most impressive about this find is that the whole setup remains intact – the trailer hasn’t been disconnected and sold off, and the pickup hasn’t been converted into a minitruck. It’s almost like it was purchased with grand ambitions of road trippin’ but plans for adventure never materialized.

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From what I’ve read, the sticking point for these Sunraders is the rear axle. Apparently, there was an axle recall shortly after it was introduced and the remedy was to replace the original 1/2 ton axle with a full ton axle. Since the original was subject to breakage and this example wears incredibly low mileage, it’s a question worth asking. Especially if you have passengers in the camper, which sleeps four adults and has a bathroom and kitchen. It, too, remains in mint condition and looks great paired with the custom Toyota pickup.

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I’ve always liked the idea of a camper but hate the idea of driving something that should require a commercial driver’s license. This Toyota Sunrader conversion may not be particularly powerful, but who cares? You’ll get 20 MPG’s while not sweating it out in parking lots, and given the fanatical following for these Toyota camper conversions, you’ll never have a problem selling it if you want to step up to something larger. Bidding is over $4,000 with lots of time left in the auction and the reserve unmet; at a different point in life, I might have been a bidder.

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Comments

  1. JamestownMike

    WOW! What a find! However, the camper is a little low for my 6’2″ body! Would be perfect for shorter folks. That 22R would absolutely SUCK going up mountain roads! Yep, not sure that 1/2 axle would hold up long (especially loaded up), wonder if it’s been swapped out to the 1 ton axle already?

  2. JW

    Really a cool find and I was wondering the same thing if this little 22R could haul that truck & trailer over the rockies to the Midwest. It seems the sellers are honest and very informative with the videos which I appreciate. She picked out small flaws that would not concern me in a truck and trailer of this age but it should help sell it if reserve is not too high. OH and having an original replacement window in the box for the cracked one is a plus. Great Find !!!

  3. Duncan MacKay

    Had a 1976 Hilux Longbox with the 22R and a 7’6″ Northern lights camper (dry wt @ 900lbs) in the early 90’s. Had no problems doing a trip from Vancouver BC to Lake Tahoe and back in July ’91 other than a slight problem with keeping the water temp down on Hwy. 99 north of Yuba City with an air temp. of 110F. Easy fix by taking the front mounted spare off. Was quite happy at 75mph on the interstate and I really enjoyed passing all the over-heated Motor Homes trying to get up Hwy. 50 out of Sacramento. And yes the engine did outlast the body.

  4. richard Aufderheide

    heck… the price its at now…id buy the truck for!

  5. grenade

    Very cool! Time capsule and all that- I’d love to take the family for a camping weekend in it. I’d sell it to someone afterwards but what a great little rig!

  6. duke

    as soon as that engine sees and real work or higher mileage the timing chain and tensioner/gears with implode and self destruct plus the water pump/bearing and head gasket from working it too hard—-im speaking from personal exposure as an owner and former owner/former owner of a toyota dealer too(retired,thank christ) once that body hits any type of salt air or snow belt states kiss that crap ass steel good bye too-and yet people continue to buy these sleds from japan-

    Like 1
    • jaygryph

      Because unless you’re mentally deficient they will continue to run forever.

      I can’t say the same for many of the domestics from the era in which these trucks were new.

      The Japanese trucks provided a kick in the ass that the American brands needed to show them they were being lazy at defending their top dog status. It was deserved, and they brought it on themselves. Hence the Chicken Tax and import restrictions to keep these little guys from eating their collective lunch.

      Like 4
      • boxdin

        The Chicken Tax was designed to keep VW trucks (other than passenger bus) out of our market. Japanese trucks got around it totally by bring in trucks w no beds and making beds in CA and installed on truck after arrival in the US.

      • Gay Car Nut Tacoma

        I agree. My grandfather owned a 1978 Toyota pickup truck. It was an awesome truck to drive. I’ve heard people say that Toyota pickup trucks had tiny cabs, with barely enough room to work. I’ve had no such problems with it. I’m 5’5″ and weigh 230lbs, and I fit quite comfortably in the truck. It had a 20R 2.2 litre engine.

        Like 1
  7. Mark S Member

    These were nice enough little trucks, but that duelly combo and four banger engine would be pathetic so much so that it would be hard pressed to pull a sick cow out of its barn stall. If this rig was mine I’d put ( you guessed it) a 350 small block Chevy.with an R700 overdrive trans and a beefed up rear axle and front suspension. Better yet I wouldn’t by it at all rather I would go buy a real truck to start with.

  8. Jeff

    This rig is really cool and in awesome shape. That being said, when I’m vacationing I want reliability. Pulling a 19′ fifth wheel with a 4 cylinder truck just wouldn’t be a vacation for me.

    Like 1
    • JamestownMike

      A 4 cylinder truck pulling a 19′ RV……….I could agree more!

  9. boxdin

    I made my dream rig, a Dakota V8 5sp 4×4 pulling a 21 ft Shadow Cruiser thinking it would be great. With 230 HP the 2800 lb 5th wheel was just too much for the truck to pull. I was constantly struggling & shifting to pull hills, and a lot of WOT brought on the mopar no vaccuum AC vents close common issue. So the AC is on but you’re burning up because the vents went to defrost or ?? Sold rig and now have a E350 Ford Chinook w EFI 460 and get 12 mpg, the same as the Dakota pulling the Shadow Cruiser, but with lots of power and ease of driving. That Toyota and trailer combo simply won’t get out of its own way and like other s have written when you work that little motor to death it won’t last long. As for longevity I’ve seen one ton fords go a million miles regularly for freight carriers (Purolator Courier). A new toyota hauls 900 lbs in the bed, that dakota payload was 2100 lbs. No comparisn.

  10. JamestownMike

    I sent the ebay seller this question, “Was the 1/2 axle recalled and replaced with the 1 ton axle?” They replied, “The truck was meticulously maintained so it seems likely but it cannot be guaranteed.”

  11. Charles

    Cute little rig. It will work ok in Florida or some other flat state.

  12. JackT

    Longest list of bids I’ve noted in a long, long time…

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