Total Chaos Fabrcation

1990 Toyota Pickup Travels from Canada to South America

Desk to Glory 1990 Toyota Pickup


Text and images by Richard Giordano of Desk to Glory

We spent a couple of wonderful years driving our 1990 Toyota Pickup from Canada south through Mexico, Central, and South America. The 22RE buzzed along at wide open throttle all day, every day. It put down a sweet 116 horsepower to the ground and never complained as long as we kept topping up the oil. I’m still certain that the constant four-cylinder rasp caused a little bit of hearing loss along the way – especially with the two side windows rolled down, providing the closest thing we could find to air conditioning. Endless dirt roads were dampened by hopes, dreams, and clapped out Old Man Emu shocks.

Why Replace When You Can Upgrade?

Upon our return home, and after 100,000 kilometers of hard travel, it was finally time to upgrade the suspension. It was time to look forward to endless dirt roads and two-tracks instead of questioning whether our ol’ backs and twin-tube dampers could handle the abuse. There aren’t a lot of aftermarket options for improving the suspension performance of these torsion bar sprung 30-year-old minitrucks. You can put mediocre shocks on an otherwise stock truck or you can double down and install a TOTAL CHAOS +3.25” Gen II Caddy Long Travel Kit – effectively doubling the wheel travel and quadrupling the fun, all while retaining 4WD. It was time to cause a little chaos, as TOTAL CHAOS makes a host of products for the 1986-1995 IFS Toyota pickups.


Total Chaos +3.5 Long Travel Caddy Kit


The TOTAL CHAOS Weld-on Shock Hoop Kit deletes the torsion bars and allows modern coil-over shocks to be installed, complete with the ability to tune the suspension for our exact wants and needs. We installed an 8-inch travel coil-over in conjunction with an adjustable secondary shock, both were re-valved prior to install for our relatively lightweight truck. In order to prevent frame separation of the lower control arm pivots under harsh bottom outs we also installed a TOTAL CHAOS Weld-on Truss Kit.


Under the knife at The Gear Shop.  The new Total Chaos suspension is light years ahead of the factory torsion bars. Total Chaos still supports Toyota platforms spanning over three decades.


Steering Upgrades

Our slightly-lifted Pickup and 285/75R16 Toyo Tires AT3s (combined with countless washboard roads) have led to many stock idler arms meeting an early demise. In order to limit time in AutoZone parking lots playing mechanic and replacing stock-type arms we chose to install the 100% bolt-on TOTAL CHAOS Caddy Idler Arm. The rebuildable idler arm comes pre-assembled and ready for abuse. Since we never know where we’re going to be when it’s time for service, we keep a rebuild kit in the truck at all times. We also deep-sixed a pair of uniballs along with a removal tool for future use.


The new Total Chaos idler arm is far stronger than stock. A paint pen is useful during installation for a quick visual check. Not too shabby for a 30 year old pickup!


Float Like A Butterfly

After the initial shakedown run we re-valved the shocks one more time, replaced the 600 lb/in coil springs with 500 lb/in Eibachs, greased the upper control arms again, and generally softened the ride. We’ve got 12-inches of wheel travel now, so it makes sense to use as much of it as possible as often as possible. The joy of hitting bumps or G-outs with minimal drama is hard to explain, but more often than not it causes a laugh from driver and passenger alike. We still tense up expecting a big hit, but now the Pickup just sails through without a second thought. The bigger the bumps, and the faster we go, the smoother it is. An unexpected bonus of all this work was the handling improvement on pavement – even if the truck still tops out at a measly 75 miles per hour… on flat roads… with a tailwind.


TOTAL CHAOS Fabrication Parts Installed


TOTAL CHAOS Fabrication Parts In Truck – Spare Parts In Truck



Warning WARNING: This product can expose you to a chemical or chemicals such as Talc, which is known to the State of California to cause cancer, birth defects and/or reproductive harm. For more information go to


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