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Old 01-31-2019, 03:28 PM #1
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Saved from the Scrapyard: Ressurecting a 500$ 3rd Gen

Picked up a new fixer upper project a couple days ago and I figured I'd take you guys through the process of bringing it back to life with me. It's important to note, I'm gonna make this look easier than it really is. This isn't my first time, actually it's my fourth, so there's nothing here I haven't done upwards of 3 times in the past.

Let's cut to the chase. I'm always looking for the super cheap 3rd gen deal on craigslist, facebook, what have you. I'm not talking the 2500$ ones, or even the 1500$ ones... I'm talking sub-1000$ beaters. This one ties for the cheapest I've ever bought (including ones I've parted out). I paid a whopping 500$ for this 4runner.

Here's what 500$ got me.

It's a 1997 base model with a little bit of above average options, under the hood is a 2.7L 3RZ, automatic transmission and 4WD. The truck has a tick over 270K miles.

It has it's fair share of problems, the motor has seen better days, the headgasket is definitely gone, and it's generally tired from the miles. It still runs, just barely. The tires are bald, the hatch is destroyed from an accident and bodged fix long ago, and interior is absolutely covered in a mixture of dog hair and mold.

It's not all bad though with this one. Through the layers of moss and leaves I could see a pretty straight body, with some half decent paint. And even though the interior was disgusting, there wasn't a lingering smell, and it wasn't completely trashed like others I've bought in the past.

Here's how I first saw it, in what would've been it's grave. Luckily the previous owner (Also the 2nd owner since 40K miles) cared too much to let the scrapyard take it.

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Last edited by UnderFire; 01-31-2019 at 03:44 PM.
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Old 01-31-2019, 03:36 PM #2
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I was just looking at that on Craigslist yesterday!
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Old 01-31-2019, 03:41 PM #3
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The first thing I do when I'm seeing if a new purchase is going to be salvagable is a thorough cleaning. With the amount of moss and leaves I started with a quick pressure wash.



At that point you can see, it's actually pretty damn good, especially for black paint. Of course it's gonna have wear and scratches, but that's no reason to count it out. Then I had to move onto the interior (kind of my specialty at this point.)

It was kind of just plain nasty, but even though the filth you can tell it's not too bad.



The front seats and console come out in short order and then you can get to pretty much everything with the vacuum, dog hair was throughout so I spent a solid hour with the shop vac. It all came out of the carpet and seats for the most part, I do need to figure out the headliner. It's stuck up there too, and a lot of it.





Back in with the seats and powerwashed floormats, nothing wrong with most of the interior so my list of things to get is actually pretty short. I need a driver's seat, center console (or maybe just a lid) and the front armrests for the door panels, other than that it's pretty good. There is a lot of wear on the driver's carpet in the usual spot, but not worth replacing IMO.



With the interior somewhat sorted, you can see the damage on the rear hatch. It's BAD. Rust, a gaping hole, stacks of bondo. I'm glad it's the hatch though, I can unbolt it and find a suitable replacement pretty easily.



While it still runs, I wanted to make sure the drivetrain was all still working. Only one way to do that. 4 Low works!



To finish off the day's work (A good 5 hours) I hit it with the pressure washer again and a quick handwash, taking advantage of the unseasonably warm weather. She shines pretty decent if I do say so. Also had to do the official unofficial T4R.org running board delete.



I'm on the lookout for a new heart for it now. Hoping to find just the motor, the majority of RZ motors around here are sold as full swaps. According to the previous owner there's a decent amount of new-ish parts here. The radiator is somewhat new,brakes are good, shocks are pretty new, the transmission was replaced with a used unit quite a few miles ago, and a few other odds and ends.

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Old 01-31-2019, 03:42 PM #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MStudt View Post
I was just looking at that on Craigslist yesterday!
Beat you to it! Already had it home yesterday. She's in good hands. Lots of deals been popping up local on potential projects, but I had to go with the 3RZ 4Runner, it's just right.
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Old 01-31-2019, 03:44 PM #5
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We need to start a rescue list.

I feel so bad seeing these majestic beasts go to the scrap yard. A lot of them are falling off right now.
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Old 01-31-2019, 03:48 PM #6
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I feel so bad seeing these majestic beasts go to the scrap yard. A lot of them are falling off right now.
Can't save em all, those ones at the scrapyard will help to save the ones I choose to bring back. Eventually they'll dry up, it's up to us to preserve what we can for now.
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Old 01-31-2019, 03:49 PM #7
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kudos to you! following your progress.

Three things make me run from most used vehicles i go check out : dog hair, rust and signs of smoking inside...

impressive progress so far!
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Old 01-31-2019, 04:10 PM #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sleepydad View Post
I feel so bad seeing these majestic beasts go to the scrap yard. A lot of them are falling off right now.
I save them from the scrap yard, only to tear them to pieces and sell their guts all over the country. I guess I'm a 4Runner organ dealer of sorts.

I do save the frame from just getting melted down, there's no shortage of people looking for a straight frame to turn into a dune buggy or something similar.
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Old 01-31-2019, 04:18 PM #9
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Originally Posted by UnderFire View Post
Beat you to it! Already had it home yesterday. She's in good hands. Lots of deals been popping up local on potential projects, but I had to go with the 3RZ 4Runner, it's just right.
I'm still waiting for a deal on an FJ80. Which will be hard to come by.
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Old 01-31-2019, 04:24 PM #10
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Nice save. These things hit scrap yards for bs reasons now. Actually had a guy in the yard tell me he felt bad having to crush what remained of a wrecked low miler.
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Old 01-31-2019, 04:36 PM #11
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Nice save. These things hit scrap yards for bs reasons now. Actually had a guy in the yard tell me he felt bad having to crush what remained of a wrecked low miler.
Blame low book value, you've got to fight and find comparisons to get fair treatment from the insurance companies since the book is half what they're actually worth. Sadly LBJ failures have started totalling good 4runners since they only want to put 2,000$ into fixing them.
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Old 01-31-2019, 05:10 PM #12
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Good thread, thanks... it lifted my spirits. I'm just at the frame shop picking mine up. The frame got bent but it's all fixed now. I was actually getting a bit frustrated with the time it takes but I see the light at the end of the tunnel. I'm in Vancouver so garage space is premium so I have to get it roadworthy asap.

Got mine for $2000 and in the end I'll probably be in it over $5000. Limited 2000 in otherwise excellent condition, basically rust free. They go for near $10,000 in good condition so I'm definitely in the green. Except when you factor in the 3 weeks it'll take me to fix it. I'm going to keep it though with the amount of blood and sweat I put into it.
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Old 01-31-2019, 05:56 PM #13
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I just missed an 03 V8 tundra on Tuesday that had had the frame replaced from the recall but was in a front end accident recently. Lowish miles and all it needed was a fender, bumper, and passenger headlight. Iíve been wanting a pickup truck but need to get one on the cheap right now because I donít want to get rid of any of my other vehicles.
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Old 01-31-2019, 07:18 PM #14
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Im parting out 3 4runners right now. Hit me up if you need any parts. All have tan interiors.
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Old 01-31-2019, 09:54 PM #15
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Quote:
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Can't save em all, those ones at the scrapyard will help to save the ones I choose to bring back. Eventually they'll dry up, it's up to us to preserve what we can for now.
I just got done doing a franken seat for my driver side on my $400 craigs list truck. found a good passenger side in moon mist. I will keep looking for a decent cloth cover set in tan but until then this will do.

before/after - I removed the covers and soaked over night in a 5 gal bucket of shout, oxy clean, dish soap and hot water then washed them in the wash machine and gently tumble on dry. must be gentle on the tumble. really they turn out like brand new in you soak them overnight and wash them.

Saved from the Scrapyard: Ressurecting a 500$ 3rd Gen
Saved from the Scrapyard: Ressurecting a 500$ 3rd Gen
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