What happens when an editor at Mini Truckin' gets in over his head with too many projects? Well, sometimes he has to cut his losses and some of those projects never get finished.

This almost happened with the Tacoma project dubbed Rags to Riches. You might remember the tech articles on the low-budget build from a couple years back. The premise was to buy somebody's started project and finish it on a budget and make it a cool show truck/daily driver. As you may remember from some past show coverage shots, the truck did eventually get partially finished, hit the road for some good cruisin', and saw a few cops along the way; but it was never completely finished.

Luckily for this Toyota Tacoma along came Phil, a young minitrucker from Bakersfield, California. Phil is a member of No Regrets and it seems he had been paying attention to the idea of saving some money by taking on somebody's project, so he took advantage of a good situation. He jumped on the opportunity to buy the truck and finish it, because after all, a large portion of work and expenses had already been taken care of.

The truck was in overall great shape: body-dropped, back-halved, and pimped out, which was a great start. Phil had full intentions of re-doing the truck immediately to make it his own. It only took once for somebody to say, "Hey is that Ernie's truck?" to hurry along the changes. He set out to give Rags a complete makeover. He wanted to debut the truck at Summer Madness, a local three-day event in his hometown of Bakersfield. As with any show-driven deadline, that gave him and his friends only three full months to completely transform this Taco.

A few days and phone calls later, Phil assembled a talented team of friends to complete the truck in time for his show deadline. First in line would be one more simple and clean body mod. That's right, only one more body mod. While most minitruckers might make a laundry list of mods to do, Phil simply installed a Grant Kustoms roll pan to smooth out the back end.

That would be the easy part though, because his buddies, Bishop and Bodydrop, had the fun job of removing the candy flames and scallops off the truck. This was no easy task. After a few days of sanding and bodywork, the truck was ready for paint. Phil took the truck to Chris aka "Bodydrop's" shop to have another one of his friends handle the flawless red paintjob. With the body all slicked out and smooth, fellow club member,Victor got down on the interior and yes, all of this just in time for Summer Madness.

I can tell you that as the former owner of this truck it made me very proud to see the truck get finished and come out so gorgeous. Phil added his own flair and style, not only with his choice of paint and interior, but also by simply installing some KMC Alfs. Old-school wheels for a new-school truck. Phil definitely has proven that you can take a very recognizable truck and make it your own. Built not bought-how about bought and then finished?

The Lowdown
Rolling Attire
Wheels:18-inch KMC Alfs
Tires:215/35R18 rubber

Chassis Modifications
Suspension Front: 2,500-pound Firestone
Suspension Rear: 2,600-pound Firestones, custom four-link
Spindles: Custom-built by Max at Bio Kustumz
Compressors: Two Viair 480s
Air Accessories: SMC valves, 10-switch box
Frame Mods: Custom back half and four-link built by Steve Wilk at Kan't Trustemz
Misc.: Custom fuel cell built by Max at Bio Kustumz

Body Modifications
Shaved: Roll pan, hood squirters, and tailgate handle
Body-dropped: Three inches
Body Mods: Grant Kustoms roll pan
Bolt-ons: 4x4 fenders, 1997 front bumper and valance, and clear corner lights
Misc.: Line-X by TMT Bedliners

Paint
Brand and Colors: DuPont base and Mazda True Red
Misc.: Base Coat/Clear Coat
Performed By: Darryl Osby at Shorty's Tint Shop

Interior
Seats: Black vinyl with red suede inserts
Dash: Smoothed and painted
Misc.: Plush black carpet and red suede headliner
Tint: Custom tint with Red NR logo done by Shorty's Tint Shop
Performed By: Interior work done by Victor Mange in Bakersfield, CA

Stereo
Head Unit: Panasonic CD player
Mids and Highs: 5-inch door speakers

Engine/Performance
Engine: Stock 2.4L
Intake: Custom cold-air intake
Battery: Optima YellowTop
Transmission: Five-speed
Rearend Type: 1990 Toyota Pickup
Detail Work: Painted

Special Thanks from Owner
"First, my girlfriend and my club No Regrets for all their help and support. Everyone who worked hard, including Chris "Bodydrop" Artiaga from Shorty's Tint Shop, Mike Bishop from Severed Ties Bakersfield for the help with the bodywork, Joey Gonzales, Victor Mange, Ernie Macias, and anyone else who was involved."

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