Lifting your 80’s Toyota Van

A question I see that’s common on facebook groups and Toyotavantech website is how do I raise my Toyota Van? There are no lift kits available for any of our vans, that inclues 1984-1989. I’m no expert but what the options I’ve seen are below. Disclaimer: I didn’t do any of the experimentation, I benefited from others experimenting and I used their results on my own van.

ncbrock’s van, photo from ToyotaVanTech, posted on Imgur.

For the front, crank the torsion bars. These torsion bars lift the front of the van. Note, that some say there are some negatives to maxing these out. Putting more stress on the system. This will help you fit larger tires in the front.

For the rear, if you have coils:

  1. You can use a daystar spacer (Daystar Part # KT09100BK). The spacer needs to have about a 1/2″ cut out to make fit over the top of the rear coil springs. Make sure to replace bottom rubber as well if it’s warn out. More detailed info here.
  2. You can change your springs to Moog CC845 made for the Ford Aerostar Van, you will need to cut 1 to 3 coils off. Some report that because of cutting the coils, the springs will start to sag after a while and provide poor performance. This is debated.

For the rear, if you have leaf springs (most cargo vans, although I have a cargo with springs):
1. Add a leaf
2. Add longer shackles.
Find more info on post #9 of this post on ToyotaVanTech.

For both front and rear,

Longer shocks. Detailed here, post number 5. Note that person has a 4wd model. You may need to use different shocks than that person if you have a 2wd. Some use Toyota Tacoma all around. This person used Durango shocks in the front and Tacoma shocks in the back.

With doing these two things alone, you should be able to fit General Grabbers on both 2wd and 4wd without rubbing. On some 2wd models, depending on age of shocks, you may need to do some cutting.

For tires,

Most people’s goal are to fit the General GRABBER A/TX – SIZE: 27X8.5R14LT on their van.

I currently have the LT195/75R14 – STARFIRE SF*510 LT  tires on my van. They’ve done alright in a lot of conditions and aren’t noisy. It doesn’t look like they’re made anymore.

Hope that helps consolidate some lifting information for our Toyota Van’s. Please comment if you have any other info or ideas.

why i chose a toyota van for my camper van

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Toyota Van Wagon Camper Conversion Part 1

Since the last time I posted, I bought a van. A 1985 Toyota Van, yes, that’s the model name, Van. Oh, the simpler times. The purpose of this van is a camper, a weekend getaway machine. Will I live in it? Probably not long term, maybe short term but this is more of a weekend machine. Sorry #vanlife Nazis, if this isn’t hardcore enough, move on.

Vehicle: 1985 Toyota Van 2WD
Odometer Reading: 195,xxx

This post will be broken into three sections.

  1. Why I chose an 80’s Toyota Van.
  2. What mechanical work I’ve done on it.
  3. An update on where the conversion is at the moment.

Why the heck did I choose a 1985 Toyota Van? 
1. Looks like a spaceship, number one reason, yup.
2. Toyota’s are known to be reliable. You see many Toyota’s with 200-300k miles.
3. Widely available in stick, the only way to go in my opinion on these older cars with 4 cylinder engines.
4. Good space inside the van.
5. Pretty cheap to buy, got mine for 1500. Beats blowing  a ton of cash on a sprinter.
6. Parts are widely available, great when hopefully traveling to Baja!
7. Pretty good clearance for 2WD, I can give it an oil change without putting it on a jack stand.
8. Rain gutters for easy rack installation.

Some of the cons I’ve noticed.
1. To access the engine, you have to lift the drivers seat up and access in general to certain parts is restricted. It limits what you can do behind the seat and the seats can’t be made to swivel towards the back.
2. Depending on the previous owner, you may need to replace some parts initially.
3. Stock temp gauge can be inaccurate.
4. Obviously not as much headspace or space in general as a Sprinter or pop top.
6. limited power

What mechanical work have I got done on the van since purchasing it?
1. Clutch was toast, if the person won’t let you test drive it, there may very well be a reason. Replaced the clutch, always go OEM with these Toyota Vans. This was done by a mechanic in a shop.
2. I thought the van was running hot and I didn’t know if the fan clutch and water pump were fully functioning (turns out they were fine, the temp gauge wasn’t reading accurately). So, I replaced the water pump and fan clutch, got that out of the way and at least I know that’s new. Thought about doing this myself but just had a mechanic install the parts for me.
3. New aftermarket digital temp gauge that told me my van was running at a perfectly normal temperature. I installed this myself.
4. Replaced the spark plugs with iridium plugs.
5. Gave it an oil change right away, full synthetic.
6. Coming soon – Needs a new brake master cylinder, just need to pull the plug on this one before I do any extended driving.

check my post on upgrades I’ve made to the van. (click here and here!)