Grady Shipp Jr.
1997 Toyota Tacoma
Every time you go to a show, you always hear people say, "You just gotta see this truck, it's the coolest truck here."
Now, we've learned over time to take that with a grain of salt, but this wasn't just any show. It was at the world-famous Relaxed Atmosphere All-Star Event, so the truck everyone was talking about had to be something special. As we made our way through a sea of crazy body-dropped minis, we came upon this incredible, glowing red Taco built by Grady Shipp.
Grady decided he wanted to build a really clean minitruck that would rival any truck on the scene, but he was tired of trucks that were overdone. He set out to build a simple and classy mini that could be driven but would still tear up the show fields. So with the help of his buddy Ryan Saltzman, he started working on the factory frame by Z'ing the front framerails and boxing the back half of the frame with a custom notch. After the frame was dialed, they gave the truck a 2-1/2-inch bodydrop, shaved all the nonessentials, sectioned the front bed cap, smoothed all the welds, and finally wrapped it all up with a Grant Kustoms flip kit and rollpan.
This is where most do-it-yourselfers would turn it over to a professional for the paint, but not Grady. Grady conned Jason Zolper at Zolper's Auto Restoration into letting him use his spray booth to go to town. The ultraslick PPG Viper Red paintjob that Grady laid down gives this truck its eye-catching appearance and drew a crowd to it all weekend long at the RA show where it was debuted to the show circuit.
Grady had the paint to draw people to the truck, and he knew that he had to come up with an interior that would keep people's attention after the first glance. So after a few weeks of trying to figure out how to incorporate the perfect blend of both mild and wild, Grady had the perfect solution. Starting out with some chopped-up Fiero seats, Kevin Jackson at Coverall Upholstery laid down a slick leather and crocodile upholstery scheme while Grady worked on the dash and blacking everything out. This interior combination really makes the truck stand out no matter what type of customs you might be into.
At our photo shoot, Grady was asked how he liked the RA show. He responded, "It's one of the best shows I've ever attended, but the real reason I came all the way from northern Illinois with the Taco was in hopes that it might get shot for Mini Truckin'."
It must've been true, because when we tried to get up with him the next morning to thank him for letting us be the first to shoot his smooth Taco, he had already loaded up and was almost home. Grady received one of the coveted Top 50 trophies, and even better, soon after he got home he was added to the Illinois chapter roster of Relaxed Atmosphere.
For more info on this killer Taco, peep the Lowdown.