Owner: Chad Cooper
Ride: 1998 Toyota Tacoma
Hometown: Santa Rosa, CA
Club: Forbidden Fantasy

It's the same old mini-truckin' story: Guy's friend has hot truck so guy goes out and buys a truck just to hang out with his friends, but it doesn't just end there.

Minitrucks tend to be used and abused then driven into the ground until the day they die. This was the life of a particular 1998 Toyota Tacoma that I rescued down in San Diego, California, a few years back. This poor truck had been hacked up, drug, and drug some more, and abandoned for dead. With a story idea and a limited budget, Rags to Riches was born in the offices of Mini Truckin' sometime around 2007.

The truck started out as a low-budget driver with show capability. Unfortunately, I lost interest in the truck, and with the crunching economy I just didn't have what it would take to finish it. From there, the truck would end up in the hands of Phil Ramirez who would finish the truck to his liking in a few months and get it shot for Mini Truckin' as Riches to Millions. The idea, of course, was that the truck never really became "Riches," hence the new name. The truck was red and was shot for the magazine, but it soon moved on to new owners. The truck actually became sort of a "redheaded stepchild" and just moved from owner to owner in a couple of different trades. Along the way, it got more and more road time, and like any custom truck started showing some wear and tear.

This truck, however, seems to have more lives than a cat, because along came Chad "TV Dinner" Cooper to the rescue. If you're a fan of this magazine, then Chad should be no stranger to you. He has a few features under his belt, including Juiced Toy and Forbidden Frontier, both previous features but resurrected and perfected to Chad's liking. This Tacoma had ended up in the hands of a member in Chad's club, Forbidden Fantasy, so a few calls later and a trade of trucks and Chad had in his possession Rags to Riches. Knowing Chad's track record, we knew soon he would be cutting into the truck, cleaning it up, and transforming it to his creative tastes. Chad thought that he would set up a small budget and make the truck a great safe driver for him and his family to take to shows.

Things unfortunately didn't go as planned (do they ever?) because the truck needed a few more things than Chad originally expected. We asked him if he would do it again if he could. "If I had a minitrucker's crystal ball to tell me what was needed to do this build, I honestly wouldn't have taken it on."

Chad also told tells us, "This truck wouldn't have been possible without the help of my friends and club members and most importantly the crew at LC engineering. Gabe Salazar worked over 20 hours in two days to install the supercharger and dyno the truck to over 207 hp at the wheel, which is one fast Taco! It was amazing to work side by side with John Naper, Gabe Salazar, and Brian Morris to complete this truck in time. Thanks again for the good times!"

And thanks to Chad for not letting old feature trucks get forgotten. We can all learn from his efforts. You can see this truck tearing up the streets of California this year and probably a few other local West Coast states as Chad loves to hit the road with his projects, so keep an eye out. And when you see him, ask him if he has a cat stowed away in his luggage or truck anywhere. You might just be surprised to hear one crazy tale of the road and what it takes to get trucks done and to scheduled shoots on time. We love you, Chad! We're sure you've got some more tricks up your sleeve for another build soon.