Reader Rides: Dean Graen’s Tricked Out 4Runner

Kicking off our Reader Ride segment is Dean Graen and his tricked out 2005 Toyota 4Runner built into a rockcrawling machine.
Dean Graen climbing through the rocks. Dean Graen

When it comes time to start modifying your vehicle, it is a chance to reflect your personality into the vehicle. This is one way to make your vehicle stand out from the rest of the pack, as was the case for Dean Graen and his 2005 Toyota 4Runner.

Graen’s 4Runner started as a daily driver before becoming the tricked-out machine it is now. Every vehicle has a purpose in life; some get to have more fun in the dirt later in life as the vehicle owner’s life changes.

“I got this truck stock to go to college in Montana, where I built it into an overland rid,” Graen said. “When life changed, I decided to cut it up and build it into the wild animal it is now.”

Dean Graen’s 4Runner flying through the desert. Dean Graen

Graen’s idea behind the 2005 4Runner was to build a fully-body Ultra4 prerunner. The 4Runner features a front solid axle swap and a trailing arm z-link rear. His 4Runner also has a Relentless front bumper, custom sliders, Baja Design lights, and a fully custom TIG welded cage. Ensuring the 4Runner can climb over any terrain are KMC Grenade Crawl beadlocks wrapped in 37×13.50R17 Toyo MT sticky tires.

“It’s a never-ending build with many more upgrades coming its way,” Graen said. “But how it sits, it has a full hydro PSC steering setup, built Ford 9-inch rear axle, the front is a diamond axle housing with an HP Toyota 8-inch center section with Dana 60 Kingpin outers, custom Branik 300m axle shafts with CTM U-joints. It is the strongest I could build the axle with, keeping it light to keep the unsprung weight down to help in the highspeed desert sections.”

Having a built off-road rig makes off-roading fun, but the first time in the dirt always starts the itch. This was the case for Graen, who had the off-road craving from when he was little.

Dean Graen is built to handle the rocks or the faster desert sections. Dean Graen

“I grew up in the dirt learning from my grandfather and dad,” Graen said. “I love offroading in Johnson Valley and Lucerne Valley mostly because our family owns land there, but because I enjoy the vast size of the riding area and the difference in the terrain it offers.”

Graen will continue to off-road his 2005 Toyota 4Runner and participate in small events such as the Baja Society Poker Chip Hunt and Pro Eagle Ride and Seek. Be sure to wave Graen down if you see him in the desert, and check out this one-of-a-kind 4Runner in person.

Want to be featured in an upcoming Reader Ride? Now is your chance to submit your vehicle for our Reader’s Rides. Fill out the form and submit photos to start the process of being featured. For more information or questions on the form, please reach us at [email protected].