I'm riding in J.J. Warren's sweet '99 Toyota Tacoma extended cab on the way back from a cover shoot in Las Vegas. While we roll smoothly through the dip-heavy streets of J.J.'s hometown, I can't help but notice where my own truck comes up short and in how many areas this truck is perfect. It's an easy comparison for me since we drive the same body-style truck, but the realization that his truck smokes mine only increases my motivation to work on it. The body is extremely straight, almost to the point of perfection. This can be accredited to J.J's bodywork skills and the talent of his roommate and painter, Mike Fischer. His truck also rides better than any 'bagged truck I have been in. Its superior ride characteristics come courtesy of the Mazda RX-7 independent rear suspension that J.J's friend Zack Airth installed. The interior is to die for. One look at the dash and you will be rethinking your own interior choices. But enough of the butt kissing, let's hear what J.J. thinks about his ride.
Mike: So you're J.J. Warren, pimp of the L.V. and you pull chicks left and right in your Taco here.
J.J.: Yeah, that would be me.
Mike: And now I finally get to ride in your truck after spending the whole day following it here in The Land of Lost Wages. Do you have any clue how cool your truck looks when it's rolling? The rear wheel negative camber looks tight. Nothin' I like better than seeing someone ruin four low-profile tires at once.
J.J.: Yeah, it rides really good with the RX-7 rearend. That made all the difference. It looks pretty weird too with all four wheels cambered inward when I drive. I still need to align it.
Mike: I think I need to title your feature Perfection or something like that because I can't find a single thing wrong with your truck. I wish mine was this cool.
J.J.: Dude, your truck is dope too.
Mike: Thanks, but don't lie. We're already friends. Anyway, we're not here for me. Now the way I see it, the only thing we're missing from this trip is a smokey burnout. Can you get it on?
J.J.: Oh yeah. (J.J. then proceeded to fry the back tires near his house. His neighbors must love him.)
Mike: I didn't know you had posi. That's
cool. And this thing has a ton of power. It's a V-6, right?
J.J.: Yeah, and off the line it's a monster because of the gearing in the rearend. It's not too fun on the highway, but I'll smoke most everyone light to light.
Mike: You 'bagged your truck, right?
J.J.: Yeah, my buddy Chuck Braun and I did it. We put Firestone 25Cs up front, and my friend Zack Airth hooked up the whole rearend. I got the rear from a junkyard and rebuilt it completely before we put it in.
Mike: I'm almost sure of the answer, but I ask every mini-trucker this question: What do you think of the model we had on your truck?
J.J.: She was pretty hot.
Mike: I'd take her home, wouldn't you?
J.J.: Yeah, but she lives far from us.
Mike: Yeah, but she loved when we dressed you up as Elvis for the photo shoot. You looked good. I would take you home too. Just kidding -- really, I'm kidding.
J.J.: That was funny, man. I want copies of the Elvis photos.
Mike: Oh, I'll definitely send you some. I can't wait to see the video of the shoot.
J.J.: We have to watch that when we get back home.
Mike: Now I remember back in the day when your truck was brand new and you had the dash painted in that trick Chrome Illusion paint. When your truck was white, did you have any idea that the dash would match up so good with the Honda Civic SI blue that the outside of the truck is painted now?
J.J.: No. I didn't even know what color the truck was going to turn out later, I just knew the dash would match the tweed really well.
Mike: So how much was the paint just to cover the dash?
J.J.: Man, it cost about $700 in materials.
Mike: You are a baller. It was worth it, though. It flows really well with the outside and the interior. So what do you have for a stereo system in here?
J.J.: I have a Clarion CD player, Polk components in the doors, and a Phoenix Gold amplifier.
Mike: How many watts is that amp putting out?
J.J.: I have no idea.
Mike: Phoenix Gold doesn't make crappy stuff, so it must be a nice amp.
J.J.: I like the way it sounds.
Mike: What kind of hood bubble is that?
J.J.: It came from an '89-to-'95 Toyota hood. My roommate Fish and I grafted it onto my hood so that I wouldn't have to lower the motor after the body drop was done. I want to thank Alter Images for overnighting me a new roll pan to put on my truck yesterday so we could shoot it. Crazy Customs skirted the fenders 2 inches up front and 3 inches out back.
Mike: Yeah, you ripped the last roll pan off nicely at the last run. Steve Nielson is cool. When he says overnight, he means it. How big is the body drop?
J.J.: Chuck and I body dropped the bed 5 inches and Crazy Customs dropped the cab 3.25 inches.
Mike: About the only thing that we didn't talk about is that nutty headliner you have. I've never seen anything like it. It looks as though there are warts growing out of the tweed. It's pretty cool.
J.J.: That was a screw-up. Originally, there was some tribal stuff up there, but I didn't like it so I ripped out the tribals and the warts are what was leftover.
Mike: OK, I think we've covered you and your truck pretty well so we'll leave off here. Thanks for letting me shoot your truck and thanks for the interview.
J.J.: Anytime homie!