Joe Bernardo purchased his '92 Toyota mini in 1992 when it was brand-new. Back then, he bought himself a nice, clean, gray-metallic standard cab and immediately began to put a personal spin on the vehicle. The truck was lowered almost instantaneously on some old-school, 15-inch Hammer-style wheels. Joe found himself falling in love at that point, and a long-standing bond formed between owner and truck.
Joe's passion for his custom ride switched gears in 1996 when the truck was completely changed up. A full color facelift left his truck with a coat of Cal-Trans Orange paint. This eye-searing color made for a truck that was easily distinguishable, and Joe made it known by attending as many Southern and Central California shows as possible. En route to Resolutions that same year, Joe was driving down the infamous Grapevine (the connecting freeway between Los Angeles, Bakersfield, and the Central Valley) when his truck suddenly fishtailed into a 360-degree spinout. Joe's Toyota hit the center divider at approximately 70 mph, but was somehow still driveable. Not to be dissuaded, Joe went to Reso' in his freshly beaten, but not dead, orange ride. After driving home, he decided not to give up, but go beyond what he'd already accomplished and make the Toyota even better than it'd been.
Joe returned to Tulare, California, with a mangled mini-truck, but big plans for its rebirth. Over the winter, Joe repaired the damages and changed the color of his ride once again. The following year, that PPG Raspberry Toyota was featured for the first time ever in Mini Truckin'.
Still stoked from being featured, Joe decided to go back to Resolutions and show the mini-truckin' world what he'd been busy with since his nasty crash. So once again, Joe was driving along with his friends on the way to Resolutions with his truck on a trailer. Seems safe enough, right? Well, as fate would have it, they were about 1 mile away from Reso' when a friend of Joe's ran square into the trailer, jacking it all up, all over again. For most mortals, this blow would have summarily ended their custom mini-truck career, or at least convinced them to give up on the cursed truck and jinxed show. As a testament to the staying power of Joe Bernardo, however, he just showed with his tailgate down and hoped no one would notice the buckled bed floor. His ruse worked - for the most part. Back at home after the show, Joe took his newfound damage into account and figured out how he was going to make the truck viable yet again.
Joe planned to make things so outstanding that he'd be up for another feature. With all that he'd been through, though, he really wanted to make the cover this time around. After tearing the truck down, he entrusted Kuts R Us in Porterville, California, to make several drastic changes, including re-shaving a new bed, suiciding the doors, and body-dropping the Toyota 2-1/2 inches. Next, Joe had Teo's Customs in Tulare, California, spray the truck fresh with a slightly darker hue of Raspberry paint. Joe then spent a lot of time under the hood detailing the engine bay before handing his truck over to Kal Koncepts for a sick set of bright-orange flames. It's our guess that Joe missed the bright orange his truck once was and wanted to bring that color back in memory of the original.
When asked about the buildup, Joe said that the cover of MT wasn't his only goal. He also wanted to build a truck that would be competitive with the street rodders in his hometown area who think mini-trucks are just for kids and the lowest form of custom you can own. Lowest is right, brother. Joe has succeeded on all fronts with the completion of his '92, and he even made it home with his truck intact from his last trip to Southern California.
The LowdownWheels/Tires 18x7.5-inch KMC wheels wrapped with 215/35ZR18 low-profile tires
Chassis/Suspension Suspension modifications performed by Kuts R Us in Porterville, California / AIM drop spindles / Slam Specialties RS-62 'bags all the way around / KYB dampers relocated front and rear / rear three-link suspension
Body Modifications Body modifications by Kuts R Us in Porterville, California / body-dropped 2-1/2 inches / Toyota 4Runner grille, headlights, bumper, and fenders / shaved door handles / shaved hood squirters / shaved wiper cowl / shaved mirrors / shaved gas door / tailgate skin combo with LED taillights / billet mirrors / relocated gas door behind license plate box / walk-through cab / suicide doors / dual rag tops; one for the cab and one for the shell / SnugTop camper shell
Custom Paint PPG Magenta sprayed by Teo's Customs in Tulare, California / House of Kolor Sunset Pearl Flames by Kal Koncepts in Bakersfield, California
Interior Interior by Teo's Customs / shaved, fiberglassed, and painted dash / Honda Prelude bucket seats wrapped with sandstone tweed / sandstone-tweed headliner / tan carpet / steel center console built by Kuts R Us / Billet Specialties Meteor billet steering wheel
Stereo Stereo installed by California Car Stereo in Visalia, California / Pioneer CD player / Logic amplifiers power the subwoofers, mids, and highs / four Rockford Fosgate 10-inch subwoofers / Rockford Fosgate separates
Engine 2.4L / polished valve cover / polished intake manifold / detailed engine bay
Special Thanks Joe's friends, family, and club members / his job for allowing him the time off to show his truck / Brett Grant / Jerry / white-trash Mike / Mario, Teo, and Teo's Customs / everyone else who helped build Joe's truck