1970's-80's Domestic Buyers' Guide


New member
Hi All;

LONGTIME lurker, but new member and first time poster. Glad to have crossed over from YotaTech where I've been since 06'.
(NOTE: did search for this very topic, but found little/nothing)

I'm getting out of the 4cyl 4x4 Toyota game, and (ideally) into a 4x4 Van. Preferably something old-school.
(Pathfinder conversions, early Quigley, early "QuadraVan", MoPar's "Wrangler", etc.) I'm not looking for the home-brew 4x4 conversion to a solid axle / t-case'd beasty, but something that was

I'm pretty green when it comes to these lumbering beasts, and besides the standard information needed to buy a 'vintage' vehicle, or any... I wanted to ask the hive-mind here to see what ya'll knew about these respective platforms.

Ideally, I'd like to know about any potential problems each platform has before I really start, and the list below is a series of items I'm curious if any of know:

RE: Chevy Pathfinders / K-Vans:
- TH350 vs TH400 as the "best" transmission for this platform
- OEM 3.73 vs 4.10 gears
- Service limits of the D44 (mainly wheel bearings)
- Notable body-unique rust locations
- Any other important 411.

RE: Ford QuadraVans
- 460ci reliability / valve & head servicing intervals
- The viability (at all) of a Ford I-beam D44
- Any transmission issues
- Notable body-unique rust locations
- Any other important 411

RE: MoPar Pathfinders
- WHY I'd get one instead of a Bowtie/Ford van

Any other info would be real appreciated. I've been so deep in the 22RE Toyota game for so long that I pretty much know nothing about these, and since I'm looking to spend proper coin on this vehicle and keep it for a minimum of a decade... I'd like to know whatever you'll share.

Thanks all.


New member
FWIW, many of the current DIY kits can be better executed than some of the old-school aftermarket conversions http://boulderoffroadvans.com/4x4-conversion-kits

Point well taken. I'd like more solid axles, and certainly see the value that's in building the Axles/T-Case/etc.

The tragic part, for my personal build purposes, is that I need to have a drivable truck at all times as it's my daily (when needed) as it's sure hard to get groceries on a dirt bike.

...but, if I were to build, I'd do a pre-75' G30 hands-down. Keep the CA smog police out of my modifications.



Jason McDaniel
Converting a van also allows you to widen your scope for potential donor bodies. If you only want a factory converted version, and only want the HD version, you may be looking a LONG time for one in decent shape. And good luck finding a pre '73 4x4. Seems that they really didn't take off until the mid-late '70s.

Conversion allows you to focus on those smog-free vans, and you can look at any of them, not just the heavy duty versions, as you will be swapping axles and springs.
It also allows you to choose an AWD or part-time 4WD transfer case based on how you expect to use the van. Or use a 4-speed automatic, rather than the older three speeds. Or swap in a fuel injected engine from a GMT400 (easy swap) or an LS based engine (takes some fabrication). It lets you take advantage of the great modern axles with better brakes and bigger bearings.

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