Sunrader 4X4 Story



Sunrader 4X4 Story
Steves 85 Sunrader
Gregs 86 Sunrader
Nolan's 76 Chinook
Nolan's 75 Blew
84 4x4 Santana
4x4 Sunrader
1986 4x4 Granville
Mac's 88 Sunrader 4x4
91 4x4 Chinook
Karens' 4x4
4x4 Bandit
Ken's 4x4 Sunrader

The Sunrader 4 wheel drive was built by the "Gardner Pacific Corp" in Vallejo California. I will try to summarize the history of this specialized motorhome as best I can.

I believe Toyotas started suppling 4x4 chassis in 1984 or 1985. I do not recall seeing any 1984 rigs though. The 1985 model chassis sported the 22R Carbureted engine and a solid front axle. It came with a manual or automatic transmission. In 1986 Toyota introduced the fuel injected 22R and the turbo charged 22R engines and a chassis which has front independent suspension and front disc brakes. Toyota did not have a V6 ready for production and Nissan, Toyota's biggest competitor rolled out a V6 and thus the turbo trucks came alive to compete with the V6. It is actually unknown how many 4x4's were built but the estimates run around 26 to 28. I do not have year or engine numbers but it seems that the majority were 1985 22r carbureted chassis. As far as the turbo engines there has been talk that as many as 4 were rolled out. I was told one was wrecked in Arizona. One presently resides in California. And there is one towards the east which has had its turbo motor removed and a carbureted 22R engine installed. So there could be one more or who knows how many still wheelin' around. I have not seen or heard of any V6 models at all. The Turbo trucks that resides in California has a Deluxe Extended cab with comfy bucket seats, electric windows and door locks, cap air conditioning, tilt steering wheel, power steering and power brakes. The extended cab is very rare in the Toyota Motorhome world. There is a theory why no V6 chassis were supplied and that is because of what's known as the "Bad Axle Recall". I am not sure when exactly Toyota started supplying chassis with the V6 engine and the 1 ton full floating rear axles. I do not believe any 4x4 1 ton chassis were ever supplied for any venue. Without the 6 lug front drive axles and spindle hubs needed to fit to fit the offset dual wheels which are found on the 1 ton two wheel drive chassis I am guessing Toyota opted not to supply the chassis because they were basing the 1 ton on the 14 inch rims and 2 they would not be able to supply a spare for the front.

The 18 foot model 180rd (rd designating rear dinette) coaches (2x4 and 4x4) were built using two separate molded fiberglass shells. A top and bottom half with the top fitting over the bottom half. This type of construction eliminates the leak problem found in the edge seam type construction of other coaches. The floor plan consists of a rear dinette with a huge rear and two large side windows giving a spectacular view out the rear. Two rear dinette versions exist. 1986 and on has a bench seat on each side of the table while pre 86 has a wrap around the table bench seat. The coaches came in two varieties, the standard and the classic. The classics have a couple more amenities such as cedar and lighted lined closets, pull out drawers, foam insulation throughout. They were equipped with 21 gallon fresh water tank, 18 gal grey water tank and a 9 gal black water tank. An 8 gal propane tank. Heating is supplied via a 16,000 BTU Auto electronic ignition central multi (4) vented heating system, a wall thermostat. An optional rear factory storage pod was offered and seems rare to find. Also offered was a 26 gallon gas tank, another rare item to find, the stock tank only holds 17.2 gallons.

I have heard a lot of talk from folks who would wish to buy a 2 wheel drive version and transform them into a 4x4 but non have undertaken the project yet. These are rare machines and hard to find. The 2 wheel drive 18 footers fetch a higher price than the bigger coaches and the 4x4's even more!

Now some nitty gritty about the rear axles. I do not believe any were supplied with the full floating rear axles. And only a hand full have been retrofitted with the good axle. Many would believe that because these rigs are 18 footers, much smaller than there counterparts that the reduced weight and the bad axle would be OK. I know of two such 4x4 bad axle rigs in which the axles did break. Luckily in both cases the vehicles were traveling at a very slow speed and no one got hurt. I being an owner of the 4x4 had a weigh in, fully loaded with one passenger and the dog for a 10 day trip boon docking. To be fair its has the 26 gal tank but it was just under 7000 pounds. That is 3 1/2 tons! Add the stress of being on dirt roads, rocks, deep ruts and steep angles and you can see what type of stress can be applied to the ends of the axles via the dual wheels. Follow the link below for a thread in the forums about a guy who had his axle break on his 4x4 Sunrader.