How To Solve The 2nd-Gen 4Runner’s Biggest Problem

The second-gen Toyota 4Runner is one of my favorite trucks. Its simple, utilitarian design is paired with bulletproof reliability and quality materials that last for decades.

This is why I picked up a Hilux pickup — or Toyota Truck as it was creatively called here in the US — for myself a couple years back. They are great vehicles, but one glaring shortcoming is their extreme lack of power. Going up steep grades I will sometimes find myself buried in third gear; they really are that gutless.

Scott Kanemura has a reasonable solution for this problem, which he’s implemented on his ‘5150Lux’ 4Runner: 1,200 horsepower.

In V6 spec this truck would have produced 150hp when new, and the four-banger version even less. Multiplying the power output of a vehicle by a full order of magnitude necessitates far more than just a simple engine swap, of course. Scott says that essentially just the shell of the Toyota remains, with a full chromoly tube frame taking the newfound chassis loads.


The power plant is an obvious one, and family-correct, too. The 2JZ-GTE has been fully built and stroked to 3.4L and features a beautiful fabricated exhaust that terminates through the passenger-side fender. It even has a muffler, but something tells me it’s still going to be a fair bit louder than the truck’s original engine. I love that someone has gone this far with a chassis like this, which the engineers at Toyota could have never imagined when this body style was originally designed in the late 1980s.


Then there are the wheels – 3-piece Volk Racing Gr.Cs, which left the RAYS factory in 17×7-inch sizing, most likely in the late-’80s/early-’90s, so period correct for the truck. In Scott’s possession they’ve been stepped up to 18-inch and are now much wider at the rear. How do these fit, you might ask? We’ll get to that in a moment.


Another cool exterior detail is the 3D-printed air inlet that’s integrated into the grille, through which turbocharger is able to suck cool, fresh air. The number of parts made from additive materials seemed to have increased exponentially at this year’s SEMA Show, and I would expect this trend to continue.


Inside, a set of custom-fabricated fixed-back bucket seats have been installed along with a composite dash and a polished aluminum console that houses a ratcheting shifter. The seats have minimal padding, and I feel like I might be terrified to be parked in one at speed. There is an Alpine stereo in the dash, though, so it appears that Scott can still jam out on his next grocery run.


If you thought the front of the cabin was barebones, the rear has been completely stripped and tubbed to accommodate the widened wheels and seriously meaty rubber. One of the things I really like about this build, though, is that it still looks nice back here. There are brushed aluminum panels, a bit of carbon fiber trim, and the cage is aesthetic. Often drag cars — and even show cars — will neglect to really finish off details like this, where as Scott’s truck feels intentional throughout.


You’ll also notice that the truck has a fabric soft top, à la Volkswagen Bus. Best of all, it took me a while to realize that this JZ 4Runner was parked up right next to an ultra-pearlescent McLaren P1. At the SEMA Show, builds like Scott’s take the cake.


As a builder, Scott has come a long way from his 1972 Hilux that Keith Charvonia featured in a Speedhunters spotlight from 2015.

I’m not sure what comes next after a truck like this one, but hopefully there are plenty of high-speed passes in Scott’s future before he moves on to another project.

Trevor Ryan
Instagram: trevornotryan

Photography by Mark Riccioni
Instagram: mark_scenemedia
Twitter: markriccioni



Comments are closed.


by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

It seems like all the articles on speedhunters are full or reasons and dmeands why i must like accept of be ok with why the car is being featured so i usually dont read them, just look at the pictures, this one seems to be interesting and able to stand on the car as its shown and nothing else - thx


I dont agree the stock engine has anything wrong with it, but needs really have little to do with cars here - wants do - these are objects of love and desire and should be talked about with lust.


someone take this man's blue pills away


The cam covers are a nice touch too - a throw back to the 2TG and 18RG. Engine looks great!


Yeah, love those!


As someone who isn't well versed in Toyota they did throw me off.


Meh. Looks like it skipped leg day. While I appreciate the craftsmanship, it's just not proportional.


yeah too low and the wheels are comically large


Honestly I think it's cool but the 4Runner is already great for what it is in its original form and it's better that way imo


Unless you live on the West Coast, the real biggest problem is rust


Well Scott's approach would fix the rust problem too