The Little Red Toyota 4×4 That Could—And Did

Desk to Glory is Ashley and Richard Giordano and their incredible Toyota truck. You may know them, their travelogue been an inspiration to vehicular travelers for a few years now. Their story is like so many others shared by individuals and couples alike. Tired of doing this, whatever it is we’re all doing in the capitalist rat race, they simply quit. Bought a truck. Bought a tent. Sold their stuff and hit the road. They drove from Vancouver south, for seven months, finally parking the truck in Costa Rica. Ashley and Richard knew they wanted to drive all the way to Argentina, so they mothballed the Toyota, flew home, worked and saved for a year, then returned to their mission, picked up the truck again in Colombia and continued the journey. They’re back in Canada now, preparing for their next overlanding adventure.

Year, make, and model?
1990 Toyota Pickup Extended Cab. 22RE engine, 5-speed manual transmission, four-wheel-drive.

Does the vehicle have a name?
We call it “Little Red.”

Years owned?
Just about five.

How did you get it?
At the time of our trip prep, we owned a 2000 Chevrolet Silverado 4×4. Even though that truck had never let us down we still had more faith that a 1990 Toyota Pickup with a 22RE would take us far off the beaten track and back with fewer issues and have the parts availability throughout Central/South America when issues did pop up. Luckily, I happened to have this project Toyota truck sitting in the weeds in my dad’s backyard. Well…okay. At the time it wasn’t mine, but I knew it was the perfect truck for the job, so it…became mine.

How have you modified it?
Essentially, I tried to leave the truck as stock as possible. I replaced the leaf springs and shocks with beefy Old Man Emu parts, but shied away from a custom solid axle swap (which would greatly increase off-road capability). The little 2.4L 22RE was rebuilt instead of swapping in something more powerful. Bumpers and rock sliders were added for off-road protection and also to protect from the crazy (or so they seem to me) Latin American drivers. The specialty mods were reserved to improve our camp life. We added a second battery (an Optima Yellowtop), a Samlex America 85W solar panel, and a 12V ARB fridge. That combined with our CVT rooftop tent round out the major additions. We tried to keep everything as simple as possible to avoid unnecessary problems on the road. The K.I.S.S., Keep It Simple Stupid, ideology was the main thought for the build because I really wanted to enjoy the trip instead of constantly fixing the truck.

How many countries have you visited?
Little Red took us through 15 countries (United States, Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina). Little Red also took us west across Canada, back home to British Columbia.

Was this a full-time living situation?
We lived out of the truck full-time for two years while we traveled through the above countries. Currently, the truck is stripped down and we’re planning for Little Red 2.0.

What are the pros to living out of a truck?
For us, living out of our little truck was absolutely essential to traveling through the Americas with the freedom that we wanted. Couldn’t do it any other way.

Anything get tiresome about truck life?
Well, there are plenty of things we look forward to when we stay in a house, hostel, or other permanent building structure. Running hot water, or any running water whatsoever, is not to be taken for granted. Showers, doing dishes with warm water, and not having to constantly monitor how much water we have left is pure luxury. Also, we love being able to sprawl out our belongings and lay on a couch without having to return all of our possessions to their specific storage space. We don’t need this comfort all the time, but every once in a while it’s nice to have the indulgence of home, even for a day or two.



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