For the past two years, Josh Freeman has been working on the '94 Toyota you see here, but he's been the owner of more than 10 vehicles before that. Most of them were slammed mini-trucks, but they were nowhere near as insane as this one, that's for sure. With a fully independent suspension both fore and aft, Josh's Toyota is the ultimate cruising machine, bar none. Now that it's been completed, Josh is looking for the next mini-truck that will fall victim to his array of slicin' and dicin' equipment in San Juan Capistrano, California, at Advanced Auto Refinishing. Now sit back, grab a cold one, and enjoy one of SoCal's finest rides and coolest cats while we talk about what it took to build this incredible machine.
MT: Yo, Josh, good to have you here, bro. You ready for this?Josh: I'm ready. Feels like I've been waiting for this moment my entire life. This is what it's all about.
MT: So, what was your intent when you started working on your Toyota two years ago?Josh: To build myself a nice truck, not a full-show dope truck. I wanted to build a truck that would satisfy me, but it just...happened.
MT: Give us a little rundown on what you did first when you began to build the truck.Josh: I wasn't planning to body drop the truck, so I started with body mods first, like my Accord headlights.
MT: How long did you actually wait until you body dropped it?Josh: I did that right away. I knew it was time. Actually, I kicked myself in the ass for not doing it first. What was I thinking?
MT: Don't worry about it, everyone' s been there. So, you work as a body shop tech for Advanced Auto Refinishing, right? How much of your skills were honed on other rides before you started hacking on your own ride?Josh: Uh, actually, I did a lot of my own stuff on other trucks I've owned. I learned a lot through work, but most of my skills were learned on my own rides first.
MT: Who did all of the killer tubing work on your ride? I'm a sucker for Toyotas, and even more of one for trucks that use tubing for rear frame clips and suspension purposes.Josh: I did it all. I use a manual bender right now. No hydraulic benders for me!
MT: What prompted you to cut the truck in half and build the rear clip with tubing in the first place? That's not very typical, you know.Josh: It's kind of funny. There's a tow company across the street, and they had this wrecked 300ZX. I measured the width and realized that it would fit. After the car was released, I got the car and took the rearend out of it.
MT: So that answers our next question of where the 300ZX rearend came from. I have to tell you, your rear suspension is badass!Josh: Well, it was the first time I'd ever tried to put that sort of rearend onto a truck. That's where a huge amount of the skills I've learned came into play. It's very square, and everything is tied together. Everything in the rear of the truck works together in fit and visual form.
MT: Was there anything unusually hard about building your truck that you remember?Josh: I can remember that getting all of the parts together was a chore. There was a lot of time spent getting all of the various stuff together I needed. Waiting for parts to come in was the biggest headache. The bodywork was cake because that's what I do. My driveline was also a big pain in the ass. I had to have three made before I had one that would work right.
MT: I think that finding mini-truckers who build their own rides and do a professional job of it is about as incredible as finding a buried treasure. You're one of about five guys over the past 12 months who did all of their own work. Is there anyone out there you want to thank for making the ride you've built possible?Josh: Absolutely, Eric and Jeff Brantley of Advanced Auto Refinishing. That's where I work and play. They've done a ton to help me out and help me to get the truck to the point it's at today. I'd also like to thank all of my friends, including my Dana Point, California, buddies as well as my Irvine, California, homies for being there for me, time after time.
MT: If you could change any one thing about your truck, what would it be?Josh: I'd do a stock floor body drop, so I could chop the top, and still get my 6-foot 4-inch ass in and out of the damn thing. As it sits right now, it looks like a telephone booth!
MT: You're way too critical of your ride; man, it's the shiznit. What's your favorite customized area of your own ride?Josh: Most definitely I like my head and taillights, but my favorite thing about the truck is the tubing that I used to build the back half and suspend the rearend with.
MT: From our point of view, you've built an extremely thought-provoking ride, with plenty of insane ideas that were executed perfectly. We can't wait to see what your next project turns out like. That is, if you can stay off your crotch rocket long enough to start building your next ride.Josh: Yeah, riding frees my mind and helps me to get onto bigger truck projects. I guess I'll ride my Gixxer until I figure out exactly what I'm going to do next.
MT: Just remember, if your next ride is a mini-truck and is anywhere near as killer as this one, you have another cover waiting for you, bro.Josh: Man, this is an honor in and of itself. To have another one in the future, oh man! This is still unbelievable. The idea of doing this again is going to drive me hard to build another one - and soon.
MT: Thanks for hanging out and waiting for us to be able to shoot your Toyota Josh. Patience pays off in the long run, eh? See? I promised you!Josh: Most definitely! I had my doubts, but I'm glad things turned out the way they did.
MT: Me too, bro. Your truck is going to look so killer on the cover, I can't even wait! So, when we gonna go riding together? I don't need much of an excuse to take my bike out and do some knee draggin'.Josh: Anytime, bro, let's go!
|UP CLOSE |
|Name/Age: || Vanessa Kay/25 |
|Measurements: || 34D-25-35 |
|Personal Ride: || '00 Mercury Cougar |
|Website: || www.vanessakay.com |
|Personal Interests: || "I love dirt-bike riding, jet skiing, hiking, and driving guys crazy!" |
|What are you famous for? || "I've been a "Juggy" for Comedy Central's Man Show for four years now. And I've also been a spokesmodel for Mike's Hard Lemonade." |
|Other Work: || Mattel - Hot Wheels spokesmodel, VP Racing fuel model, she worked on The Animal with Rob Schneider, was an introducer for Jimmy Kimmel on Fox's Pre Game Sports Show, and a bunch of other appearances, including work for Speed Vision. You may even see her on a commercial for Axe Body Spray where Vanessa was dressed as a sexy alien thanks to Vanessa's personal trainer, Erik Bond. |
The Low DownWheels/Tires 18x7.5-inch chrome KMC Elf wheels with 215/35ZR18 Toyo Proxes T1-S radial tires.
Suspension/Chassis Up front, the suspension has been detailed to death with plenty of Glasurit Silver and a custom-mixed Green. The front has been 'bagged using smaller Firestone airbags, running 1/2-inch lines to SMC valves. Additionally, the frontend was given an additional 2 inches of alignable drop using a pair of Belltech dropped spindles, and Doetsch Tech drop shocks. In the rear, things really get busy with the factory rearend a mere memory. In its place, an '86 Nissan 300ZX rearend makes everything fully independent, with larger Firestone airbags mounted above the upper control arms with flame-cut flame-shaped mounts built into the tubular rear subframe. Since the 300ZX lower control arms serve as the lower 'bag mounts, Josh gets a full foot of articulation in the rear when the rear shocks are removed.
Body Modifications Shaved headlights, custom fenders and hood, all meant to further make the use of '97 Honda Accord headlights work in fit, form, and function. All sheetmetal was modified by Josh himself at Advanced Auto Refinishing in San Juan Capistrano. He built everything using steel that he tweaked to suit his needs. To say this truck came as a result of Josh's warped vision of the ultimate mini would be the truest representation of what Josh had intended all along. Of course, all of the handles and other factory annoyances were removed permanently. Other protuberances such as the antenna, rock guards, factory third brake light mountain, bodylines, and taillights were removed. The new taillights in the Toyota can be seen through the tribal design on the tailgate that illuminates red when the brake is depressed. While a smooth roll pan and tailgate skin were grafted into the bed, an opening was opened in the roll pan area's center after Josh railed too hard one night tearing the center of the bed. Josh simply worked with what he had and modified the truck further. The truck is also body dropped a whopping 4-1/2 inches. Of course, Josh did that, too.
Paint After getting all of his custom bodywork completed, Josh went even further by painting his own truck using Glasurit Silver, and laid out his own design for the truck using a custom mix of green paint for the truck's graphics.
Interior Hand-fabricated steel dash and center console painted to match the exterior. Seats are out of a '96 Honda Prelude sans headrests with modified seat mounts and wrapped in black pleather. Additionally, the door panels are pleather-wrapped Masonite with inserts that make the door panels flow into the dash. See the killer steering wheel in the truck? You can't buy it. It was built from a barstool "borrowed" from Josh's parent's house. The center is a piece of plate steel. Once combined and made to fit a stock wheel, the wheel is held to the column via the factory hub nut. The rear frame clip is tied to the in-cab roll cage, a la race truck style, and painted to match the green tribal found all over the truck. The center console is also of Josh's own design, made to flow to the dash, as well as to house the truck's wiring and stereo components.
Engine Other than plenty of detailing, the 22RE engine under the hood of Josh's Toyota is mostly stock. Besides a Toyota Racing Development cam, the engine remains in virtually factory condition. Better performance is gained from a custom-built exhaust utilizing a Magnaflow baffled exhaust tip that exits from the truck's bedside in yet another clean body modification. Drivelines Unlimited is credited with shortening Josh's factory driveshaft to keep it from being shoved into the truck's transmission when the truck is laid out.
Special Thanks To Jeff and Eric at Advanced Auto Refinishing in San Juan Capistrano. Without them, this truck would undoubtedly be highly modified and killer ride, but would have nowhere near the attention to detail that it possesses today.