By on February 27, 2018

Image: 1987 Toyota 4RunnerThe Rare Rides Pristine Vintage Toyota Precedent (RRPVTP) was set a few weeks ago, when we featured a Tercel 4WD Wagon. Then, Matthew Guy happened to present the redesigned 1990 Toyota 4Runner in his Ace of Base segment. This seemed a very timely coincidence, as a few days before we’d received a Rare Rides tip from commenter StephenT: a 4Runner of the first generation, lovingly maintained and for sale in Alabama.

You don’t see them like this very often.

Image: 1987 Toyota 4RunnerThe future was clear for the 4Runner as a mid-range SUV by the time the 1990 generation debuted. In contrast to its cohesive design, the first generation model we have here is much more “truck with cap” in its styling. That’s appropriate, because that’s exactly what the 4Runner was.

Image: 1987 Toyota 4RunnerThe truck in question was the Hilux or, as Americans knew it, “Pickup.” Introduced in North America midway through the 1984 model year, the 4Runner customer had a variety of roof coloration options; white or black.

Image: 1987 Toyota 4RunnerFuel injection arrived for 1985, and additional engine choices were added in ’85, ’86, and ’88. Today’s example is powered by the 22R-TE engine, a turbo inline-four of 2.4 liters. A less commonly selected engine option, it mandated an automatic transmission.

Image: 1987 Toyota 4RunnerNotable reworking happened underneath the 4Runner for 1986, when an independent front suspension was implemented. Increased comfort, stability, and better handling resulted, and a wider track meant more room in the engine bay. The V6 engine desired by Americans was introduced in 1988. By then, the 4Runner was well on its way to suburban family truck status, and gold badges and two-tone paint was on the horizon.

Image: 1987 Toyota 4RunnerThe pristine condition of this 4Runner is due to a recent restoration and a whole mess of new parts (detailed in the listing). There are 162,000 miles on the clock, and the digital dash layout was an image of modernity for six months in 1987.

Image: 1987 Toyota 4RunnerInterior accommodation features Toyota Tweed, and everything is spotless.

Image: 1987 Toyota 4Runner

An especially nice detail is the secondary door handle on the passenger side, so that rear passengers are not at the whim of the front seat passengers’ generosity.

Image: 1987 Toyota 4RunnerPerfection hasn’t been achieved — a couple of mechanical things need attention here, namely the cruise control and the fuel gauge. But that hasn’t put the seller off from asking a pretty penny. She’s yours for $19,900.

Have a Rare Rides suggestion like StephenT that you’d like to see on these pages? Email [email protected], and it’ll get to me quickly.

[Images via seller]

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34 Comments on “Rare Rides: The Perfect Toyota 4Runner From 1987...”

  • avatar

    Money, money, money…. mooooooneeeeyyyyyyy!

    • 0 avatar

      And the owner might just get it.

    • 0 avatar

      28, I know I’m crazy, but just look at it:

      Its so sumptuous. It has all the revisions made to the first gen. I start my new job Monday, and it should be 6-9 weeks of steady work (7 days a week, 12 hours a day), so I should be able to start car collecting again. Aside from a 4wd Explorer or similar, I do want me an Olds.

  • avatar

    Automatic? Pass.

    These first gen 4Runners should have only been available in a MT.

  • avatar
    CKNSLS Sierra SLT

    The seller must live in an alternate universe…..

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Cult cars. When nothing else will do.

      What gets me with this one is the 161K miles. Restoration or no, that’s a lot of use.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Turbo Digital Edition and in fantastic apparent condition. This is very cool, but $20K is a lot for a toy and that is what this would have to be. It’s too nice and rare to take off road or daily drive in anything but dry weather.

    Sad and boring though it may be, my $20K would have to go towards this if I wanted a 4Runner for daily use:

  • avatar

    And people whine about turbo engines are worthless after a few years. This one look and probably drives like new.

  • avatar

    In before the first “No solid front axle means it’s worthless.”

    This is a nice truck, but it has the wrong transmission, and I still like the second gen better, even with the doggy V6.

  • avatar

    Always wondered why they used a Dodge grille.

  • avatar

    I feel sorry for the poor buyer who ends up getting in a minor fender bender and the insurance company decides it’s a total loss because the 4runner fender/paint cost exceeds the book value of the truck! (Speaking as someone who ended up with a rebuild title on a super clean 1st gen MR2 because some dingbat in an Expedition backed into/over it.)

    • 0 avatar

      You get an Agreed-Value policy on something like this. You can easily insure it for $20K, the premium is based on the valuation. I have such a policy on my cars.

      While not quite as nice as this, my ’95 Disco I is pretty close, and has a lot fewer miles on it – and every single thing on it works correctly. If I put any effort into “restoring” it (has some clearcoat issues up top) it would be this nice. I insure it for $8K when the “average” value of one is probably $2K at this point.

      • 0 avatar

        Why have collision & comprehensive insurance at all on an 8K toy? If you can afford the toy, you can afford to replace the toy.

        I drop collision and comp on all my cars that are more than 5 years old.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    20 grand is a very nice 60 series Land Cruiser so yeah, I’ll pass

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Should be absolutely perfect if they are asking what is likely record money for it…I’m talking Pebble Beach perfect at that price, not Gas gauge and cruise is broken, doesn’t have the original radio and has the less desirable transmission. The original owner spent way too much and if they do sell it at that price it will be a meeting of 2 fools.

      • 0 avatar

        I agree with this sentiment.

      • 0 avatar

        Its on Bring a Trailer now with a current bid of $4000. While it is very nice its not quite nice enough to hit break the bank money. The auction ends in 6 days; it will be interesting to see what it brings.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          Those BAT auctions tend to go haywire in the last day or two. This one isn’t as striking but had lower miles, and the bid went from $9K to the selling price of $16.5K in the final 24hrs:


          I’d rather have this one though for half the price. The second gens are the most nostalgic for me:

      • 0 avatar

        I don’t see the issue. You are looking at this as transportation. It’s not, it’s a toy. This will sell to someone who wanted one new when they were a kid. Lots of middle-age guys with lots of disposable income and nothing better to do with it than buy some cool toys. It might not hit $20K, but I bet it ends not far short of it. All it takes are two guys who want it bidding it up. Where are you going to find another one in this condition? And even at $20K, I bet the seller is losing money on it. For sure if he values his time at above zero. You can’t make an average one this nice for what this costs, because an average one is a rusted out used up wreck at this point.

        I do agree that to get the max price there should be no issues, but the stuff seems to sell anyway.

        As I have said on here before, there are a couple cars from my own past that I would pay fairly obscene amounts for if the right one came along.

  • avatar

    The thing that kills me about mint condition SUVs like this is that I’d feel bad ever using it as intended. I have a hard enough time doing that with my much less rare 3rd gen Limited, saving it from winter road salt and such. Just hearing branches drag along the paint makes me cringe when I’m wheeling around fairly mild trails, but I’m slowly learning to let go and enjoy the truck letting it do what it’s good at.

    • 0 avatar

      @gtem – I knew a fellow that had a ritual each time he bought a new pickup. He’d drive it off the lot, park it and then give it a kick somewhere to put a dent in it. He said that if he didn’t do that, he’d be too worried and anxious until that first ding.
      Interesting strategy and I see where he is coming from. I’m not that freaked out about it but still go through that “new car phase” until some wear and tear comes along.

      I love this vehicle but like you,I find it too pristine to take out and enjoy as intended.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        I put the first brush scratches on my 4Runner last weekend. Not particularly happy about it despite knowing it was inevitable. I’m not sure I could follow his example of preemptive damange, though, the first 18 months of flawless paint were nice.

        I’ll be breaking out the rubbing compound in the spring.

    • 0 avatar

      Dang, gtem, I figured you’d have had 4wd-gasm over this. But, yeah, I see your point.

      • 0 avatar

        gtem – I read that and heard the group “4 Runner” singing “A Heart With Four Wheel Drive”

        “I can’t get no traction when I look into your eyes
        When you kiss me tenderly my wheels get paralyzed
        Somewhere down that highway I’m gonna find that exit sign
        But I can’t get these wheels turnin’
        I need a heart with 4wd, give me a heart with 4wd.

  • avatar

    My 91 had those wheels… My dad had to silicone the little hubcab jiggers on because they would fly off all the time…

  • avatar

    For 19,900 in Alabama you can get a whole house. You just have to pay the space rent.

    CP on the price for an A/T with over 160K, though. Maybe half that would be fair.

  • avatar

    I owned a 1997 4Runner until 2002. It was and still is the best car I’ve ever owned. Sold it with 145K on it for nearly what I paid for it. Bought a 2002 MINI Cooper S, POS but the 2004 MCS was almost as good as the 4Runner.

    • 0 avatar

      I just hit 146k with my ’96 a few weeks ago, she’s truckin’ along just fine and handles both daily commuting (at the moment) and is my primary road trip vehicle, as well as some offroading.

  • avatar

    I can’t comment on the price. A couple of years ago, i never would have believed a 21 window microbus, could draw close to six figures either. Those things were a dime a dozen when I was growing up.

  • avatar

    If I’m going to blow 20k on a rare ride,
    I’d rather it be this,

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