We’re not ashamed to admit that the Toyota 4Runner is one of our favorite vehicles. The midsize SUV offers the build quality, off-road capability and charm of the Land Cruiser, but at a more sensible size and price tag. If we had to choose one generation to own, though, it would be the third generation from 1995-2002. It had a sleek, simplified aesthetic, was significantly lighter than the present model — and unlike the subsequent two generations, you could get a third-gen 4Runner with a five-speed manual transmission.
Well, good news: a perfect time capsule version of that third-generation 4Runner just came up for auction on Bring a Trailer. It’s a 1997 4Runner with the stick shift. That paint color, if you’re wondering, is called “Lavender Silver Metallic,” and it’s magnificent.
This 4Runner spent most of its life through 2018 with one family, and has only 57,000 miles. It looks like it hasn’t been touched — almost literally; the cloth seats look perfectly intact. It still has the AM/FM cassette deck and what appears to be the badging and license plate protectors from the original dealer, a noted NFL quarterback and 1980s fashion maven.
If you’re looking for a clean, stock 4Runner to modify for overlanding or just to own, it would be hard to find a better example than this one. About the only way to get a cleaner 23-year-old 4Runner would be to find one that’s been kept in a glass box. (And even if you discovered that 4Runner, you should take this one that has been serviced and driven regularly.)
As of this writing, the auction price remains reasonable, with the bidding still under $15,000.
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