Owner: Charlie Cooper
Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona
Ride: '96 Toyota Tacoma
Club: Negative Camber
This is a lesson in the art of building an awesome mini without ever cutting into its body. If you think you need to slice and dice your way into the pages of this magazine, then you are dead-wrong. Charlie Cooper is here to prove it with his Tacoma. Save for the turn signal holes that have been eliminated from the front bumper, he didn't shave a single item on his mini. There isn't an upgraded front end, there are no custom taillights, no missing body lines, and no gross amounts of body filler were used to make this mini stand out. In fact, even the stock bumpers and factory antenna are still in place. Charlie's truck is one of those rare rides that sneaks up on you with all the subtleness of a train wreck. The laid-out stance, flashy paint, and tantalizing interior work do plenty to grab your attention and at the same time prevent you from noticing that the body of this truck is bone stock. It almost scares us to think that some of you have to compete against such a clean ride in mild classes at shows on the West Coast.
Chassis/Suspension Justin Gough and Pete Morrone of URO-TEK in Phoenix modified the front suspension of Charlie's Tacoma. They flipped the ball joints to the top of the control arms and then replaced the coil springs with Firestone 2500 airbags. Once the frontend was made adjustable, a pair of drop shocks was relocated. Mark Odenwalk and Matt Howard are responsible for the rear suspension work. A four-link was fabricated and then installed, replacing the stock leaf springs. Again, Firestone airbags were installed to make the rear of the truck adjustable and drop shocks take charge of the suspension damping. Fabco 3/8-inch valves, 3/8-inch air lines, a 3-gallon reserve tank, and a pair of Firestone air compressors power the suspension. The compressors and air tank serve as back up to the nitrogen-charged cylinder that is mounted in the bed whenever it goes empty.
Wheels/Tires Charlie chose 17x7.5-inch Primax rims that match the silver base color of his Taco. The rims are tucked into a set of 205/40R17 Kuhmo tires.
Body Mods While there are no actual modifications, there are some choice additions, such as the JBM billet turn signals and the driving lights that have been frenched into the lower valance.
Custom Paint Matt Howard of Deano's Custom Painting prepped the body for paint and then laid down the House of Kolor Cobalt Blue, Purple Ice, and Silver, Orange, and Purple Chameleon paints. The graphics were designed by Mike Learn, the airbrushing sprayed by Krash, pinstriping laid by Jeremy Mensinger, and the entire truck was cut and buffed out by Chris Rodes and Chris Howard.
Interior This is one of the nicest interiors we've come across lately. JP Concepts Interiors of Mesa, Arizona, performed the bulk of the work necessary to give the interior its show-winning look. Jeff Prespentt and Jeremy Donkersly used Baltic Blue Ultra Leather and faux leopard print to cover the bucket seats that came out of a Chevy Astro Van. The headliner was also covered in Ultra Leather to match the seats. James Amundsen smoothed and painted the dash to match and built the custom center console. Topping off the stylish interior is a Colorado Customs Hancock 2 steering wheel.
Audio System Chuck Howard wired up the audio system, which features equipment from Panasonic, PPI, MTX, and Lanzar. A Panasonic CD head unit controls the action inside of the cab and PPI amps provide the audio power to a 10-inch MTX subwoofer that resides behind the front seats and 6.5-inch Lanzar component speakers that are mounted in the doors.
Engine/Drivetrain To properly mate the rearend with the transmission after the air suspension was installed, the driveshaft had to be shortened. Then Chris at Pro-Dyno installed a TRD exhaust system and TRD short shifter.