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Sheldon Gardner

Sheldon Gardner: '83 Toyota Pickup

Sheldon GardnerI'll forgo all the history and stuff and get right to it. I bought the 83 Toyota truck, way used, in 1993. I lived in South Florida, so it saw mostly mud for about two years with the only mods being a really stiff 3 inch lift and some no-name Mud Terrains that never worked very well.

I started reading the magazines and liked to look at the rocks and hill-type stuff . So I got an E-Z Locker and stuffed it in the front and headed off for the '96 Tennessee Challenge. I had a great time, taking the easy stuff, and the truck worked ok. After getting back, 4.88 gears were ordered and installed. These made highway driving a lot nicer.

Sheldon GardnerI did mostly mudding for the next year with an engine rebuild, because of junk getting down the air intake. So, by '97 I was feeling like a really seasoned off-road kind of guy, so I went to the Kentucky Challenge. Guess what… I rolled it twice on it's side in one day! (newbie's sheesh) I had a great time and that is when the Toyota started to become the dent machine. Looking at it, I realized that I could either let it get dented or fix it up nicely and not wheel it so hard. You can guess which route I took.

The first big trip to Tellico, NC, later on in '97 was to the Great Smokey Mountain Trail Ride. I was a lot more careful on this outing and had a great time. Also by this time, I had an EZ Locker in the rear, as well.

A few more trips to Tellico over the next couple of years and I was ready to put the icing on the cake. So, early in '98 I installed a dual transfer case setup using Marlin Crawlers. This made it the BOMB!!! When you don't slip it makes things much easier.

I moved up to North Carolina in '98 and joined the CNC (Central North Carolina 4x4) club. I met my future wife and we have been trailing ever since. Note: See Sheldon's wife, Donna, in last month's Showcase here.

Some mods that I'm proud of are the ol' AC compressor converted to air pump. Everyone likes that, it seems. I'm really popular after a trail ride. I fabricated the cage with the help of a friend. It's made out of genuine 1.5" .120 tube; not pipe. The lift is a custom setup with mix-and-match leaves. It nets about 4 inches of lift. There is a bunch of other stuff but who wants a list that long? I can say that this truck is about the most dependable thing that I have ever owned. It got me back to Florida one time from Tellico (about 850 miles) with only 5th gear and grinding all the way. As I type this right now (Nov30, 1999) I am driving it to work because my '88 Blazer needs the tranny rebuilt. Geez, I wish sometimes that I never cut the top off!!!


Find out more about Sheldon's Toyota here.



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