Jeff and John 2014: The East Coast Adventure

The Adventure Begins!

Day 0: May 14, 2014

It’s that time again, road trip time that is and in the spirit of road trips gone by I have decided to document the journey from Calgary down to Orlando, Florida through Kansas City and up the east coast of North America to Maine and then back. I’ve done a few trips with a few friends, and in this case it will be John and myself taking our mean paved-trail overland expedition-spec 1993 Toyota Previa on the journey.

We bought the van in January just northwest of Edmonton, AB. It was by far the riskiest purchase we’ve ever made as it was all done sight unseen online and had the potential to go horribly wrong. Everything worked out though and a day after sending the money we picked up the van. A good condition, though high mileage manual transmission rear-wheel-drive model from the original owner.

Very rarely do I pass by a Red Robin and not stop in for a burger and a (bottomless!) Freckled Lemonade, and this was no exception.

In the spirit of the van and what it was to become, it only felt right that we would also stop for donuts at The Donut Mill in Red Deer on the way back. It truly is a delight and the first trip of the Previa was a sign of things to come!

There were really 3 parts to getting this particular van ready for the journey. First was to fix any issues with the van, second was to modify it a bit to give it a certain “feel,” that is: Race Van! Lastly was the conversion from regular passenger vehicle to mobile apartment. That last bit would not be possible without Jason at Epic Metal Services. Many thanks to Kurtis Ruston, Chris Mulhall and Danny Flores at Stampede Toyota for their help as well, mainly Kurtis who was delegated all of the worst jobs (like the front struts, ewwwww).

One of the most important and missing features of the van, was cruise control. This was added using used parts from a 1994 automatic model, so required a bit of repinning and changing around, but it is now fully functional.

Many of the modifications performed to the van were done from parts lying around from other various projects we’ve had over the years, and the van eventually became a moving homage to what had come before. The steering wheel is a Nardi from John’s Supra, the pedals come from an IS250. The TRD shift knob had been used in a few cars and is the same type as is currently in John’s Supra. We added the hood marking that was originally on John’s Supra and the decals that had been on the Spruce Moose (the Tercel from the 2011 BBQ roadtrip). Lightforce lights from the recently departed 4Runner have been mounted to the grille area. Wheels were sourced very cheaply from a Supra in an effort to get rid of some of the crazy sidewall flex of the stock 14-inch tires.

In a better reproduction of the 4Runner’s sleeping platform and the Tercel’s piece of foam, we had an aluminum frame made with drawers to fit a full-size mattress from IKEA. It has proven to be extremely comfortable and will provide a much better sleeping environment than the Tercel could have ever hoped to. The curtains were sourced from a junked Japan-spec Toyota Estima found at Calgary Pick ‘n Pull for a total of $9.95 plus tax. It was the find of the year.


We leave tomorrow. Fun times, driving and food ahead. Updates to come daily (unless craziness ensues, it’s more than possible).

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