MT: Hey Mike, that's one bright-ass Taco you have there. Frank at Platinum must have tripped out real hard to come up with a scheme like that.
Mike: (Laughs but won't say why.) Uh, yeah, ummm ... It was all Frank. I had nothing to do with it but ship him a huge load of House of Kolor paint.
MT: I have to say that for the amount of time your ride was in Arizona, there was a lot accomplished. I'm really impressed, Mike. How many colors were used in the painting process?
Mike: I think Frank told me that at the last count, there were 72 colors in the whole job, believe it or not.
MT: Wow, I wonder if House of Kolor misses any of that paint. Let's look back a few years, OK? What rides influenced you the most and had the most impact on you while you were building your Tacoma?
Mike: The first truck that ever got me into mini-truckin' was Pat Nichols' Ballistic Toyota. That truck influenced me to build trucks that are ridiculously customized. No cookie-cutter minis for me. The inspiration for this particular truck came from a truck owned by a guy named Tractor. He had a bright-green Tacoma Xtracab that was featured in Mini Truckin' a few years ago. I had that feature up on my bedroom wall the whole time I was working on my truck. I guess you could say I was inspired.
MT: How long have you been playing with mini-trucks?
Mike: I bought my first mini in 1994. It was a new '94 Toyota standard cab and it had an adjustable suspension. You know, air shocks.
MT: Oooh, high-tech. Had you ever built anything that was show-worthy before the Tacoma?
Mike: I worked on the '94 until it was all shaved, 'bagged, and painted bright orange on a set of Probe wheels. I showed that a lot, but I never finished the truck.
MT:Why didn't you finish the '94?
Mike: The brakes went out on the truck in the middle of a snowstorm. I got stuck in the snow next to a Nissan dealer and, in a moment of weakness, I traded it in for a new '97 Nissan 4x4. It was great in the snow in New York, and I loved to jump the thing just about anywhere I could. But as soon as the snow melted, I found myself needing to be closer to the ground again. That's when I went out and traded in my now beat-down Nissan on what was to become Burnt Taco.
MT: I know you were pretty stoked to have your truck all in one color of bright blue when you came to California to work and live last year. I can still remember meeting you for the first time in Pigeon Forge a few years ago. Remember that weekend? You knew I was going to bring this up, didn't you?
Mike: Somehow I did. You're going to make me talk about my broken four-link, aren't you?
Mike: So, I'm in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and I'm doing a burnout in the parking lot of the hotel where the show was being held. The wheels started hopping, and before you knew it, I have one tossed four-link. After I broke my truck, I sat there for an hour when I met you. You were a big help. Not. Thanks for the yellow pages. Actually, someone else mentioned that Wal-Mart had welders for sale, so we went and bought one. After three-wheeling back to where my truck was parked next to the hotel, we had to find a place to fix the truck.
MT: So, you fixed your Tacoma in the parking lot near the hotel?
Mike: Uh, well sort of. We went to a nearby restaurant and plugged 100 feet of extension cord into outlets for their outside soda machines and started welding in the rain. After we'd blown out their circuit breakers no less than three times (one per soda machine), we had the truck fixed enough to get it home. We then returned the welder to Wal-Mart and we were ready to head home. We also had a nice police escort out of town later in the day. That was a P.F. weekend to remember.
MT: You've told me this story before, but it gets better every time I hear it. What's been the best thing about living on both coasts and being the consummate mini-trucker? Has moving to California been all that it was cracked up to be?
Mike: Oh yeah, totally - except for the cops. I can appreciate what the people on the East Coast go through to build their rides in the freezing weather. There's a whole different style involved between the coasts.
MT: What would you say has been the hardest thing about moving cross-country?
Mike: Driving the damn Ghetto Home. That was an experience I'll never forget. Leaving my family was hard and living in that beat-to-death mobile home was worse.
MT: Now that your Tacoma is finished, why don't you let everyone know what's going to be built in your garage next?
Mike: That would be the '88 Nissan Hardbody standard cab sitting in my backyard right now.
MT: Do you know how far you plan to take the buildup of the next ride? Will it be this extreme?
Mike: Well, the Nissan will outperform the Toyota as far as speed. My ultimate goal is to lay body on 20s all the way around. That's about the only goal right now.
MT: Since your tech sheet was pretty much overflowing with information, we've filled the tech information at the end of your feature to the max. If there's someone else out there wanting to build a badass show ride, what kind of advice would you give them?
Mike: Make sure you have a plan. I didn't, and this truck has had five sets of wheels, three completely different suspensions, and three interiors. It's too expensive that way. Make your plans and stick to them.
MT: If you had to go through building your Taco all over again, the frozen New York nights included, would you do it?
MT: What would you change?
Mike: First, I'd lay it all the way out on 20s, just to see if I could do it. Also, I'd be making a plan and sticking to it like I mentioned before.
MT: I, for one, am glad that you went balls-out and created an all-new Burn Taco for everyone to drool over again. Thanks for having the huevos to dive back into your already killer ride and make it anew for the cover spot of Mini Truckin'.
Mike: Cool, thanks.
MT: So, how's work? (Laughs)
Mike: (Laughs)I'm still here. I'm paid to go to truck shows where I'm able to see trucks, and hang out with my friends. Life is good.
MT: It's been a great year working with you, Mike. Both you and your ride have come a long, long way. Thanks for spending the time with me here in my office to get this all down for posterity. Not that we had any choice right? This is due today.
Mike: Nothing like procrastination, huh Lance?