For the past four years, Jan John Jr. has been steadily pushing his '94 Toyota toward stardom. For most of that time, Jan's biggest driving goal was to become the first mini-trucker to build a truck worthy of the cover of Mini Truckin' magazine. While he missed that goal by a few months, he did one thing that no mini-trucker from the Great White North has ever done: drive his truck more than 28 hours (that's more than 1,700 miles) to be photographed in our southern Orange County studio. The biggest setback came in the summer of 2002 when Jan wrecked his Toyota and decided to completely revamp his ride and make something more of it. This time, he went through the truck completely, making it shine like it never had before.
Once the Toyota's damage had been accessed, Jan reworked the transmission crossmember and raised the gas tank. Then he hacked through his original engine crossmember and began to shave the truck, beginning with the taillights. Jan and his friend Derek VanGisteren went through the body of the truck and smoothed everything. Next, the suspension of the truck was rebuilt because it didn't lay out properly. Now, with 18-inch wheels, the truck lays out just fine, even with a 2-1/2-inch body drop. With the truck's body in primer, and a newly rebuilt suspension, Jan moved on to the next area, which meant redefining his air ride capabilities.
Using a 4-foot section of pipeline pipe, Jan built a 1/4-inch-thick air tank capable of holding 23-1/2 gallons of compressed air. Because the tank was so thick in sidewall, it was simple to build six compressor mounts right off of the tank, making a very clean installation. Once plumbed using hard stainless line, all that was left to do was smooth the bed floor and walls and tub the inner wheelwells using a pair of trailer fenders. To finish off the bed, a custom crossmember was built, incorporating a pair of eight-legged spiders made from solid 1-inch bar stock and 4-inch pipe caps into the structural strength of the crossmember.
To make the rebuild complete, Jan cam into possession of all the parts from the nose of a '99 Tacoma to completely change the front fascia of the truck. Using the truck's original radiator support, Jan made the new front end fit with the stock hood. The only thing he had to modify were the front fenders, extending them around the circumference of the Toyota Tacoma corner lamps. Inside the truck, Jan relied on A/R Upholstery to rework his headliner using gray tweed, while Jan changed the appearance of the dash and door panels to incorporate paint, tweed, and plenty of smooth, good looks.
The morning of our photo shoot, Jan pulled into our studio about 30 minutes later than we expected. However, when we realized there was no trailer anywhere to be seen, something finally occurred to us: Jan drove his truck more than 28 hours through two countries, six states, and two time zones just to make this appearance on our cover. This is as much of a tribute to this ride's worth and quality of buildup as any amount of custom work done throughout.