Owner: Alfonso "Fonz" Memije Jr.
Ride: 1998 Toyota Tacoma
Hometown: Anaheim, CA
We love to hear stories about young guys ripping into their daily drivers and sorting out the mess as it unfolds. Now, this might not be the most considerate way to treat your only mode of reliable transportation, but for Alfonso "Fonz" Memije Jr., things worked out better than he'd ever imagined.
From the age of 12, Alfonso knew exactly what he wanted to ride around the SoCal streets in. After seeing his first customized mini-a Nissan Hardbody on hydros- he's been continually crafting his '98 Tacoma over a four-year stretch just so he could whip around in a custom cruiser of his very own. Not having much money to spend on hiring professional hands, Alfonso cleared out his parents' garage, bought a Sawzall, and in a matter of a few days, he found himself at the point of no return.
With the guidance of Art Gomez of GO-EZ Customs, an initial plan to 'bag the truck was devised and carried through, but Alfonso was dissatisfied with the results after taking his Taco to a few shows and seeing trucks laying out much lower than his. This case of "altitude envy" forced him to once again make room in the family garage in order to tear down the truck and prep it for an emergency bodydrop procedure. The process spanned over the next seven months, but Alfonso got what he was after-a highway-hugging stance, full use of interior climate controls, and 20s tucking at each corner.
Although we make it sound like the bodydrop process was simple and clean-cut, keep in mind that this was Alfonso's first attempt at conducting a hack job of this magnitude. A few bumps and detours did present themselves, but one instance in particular had us cringing with second-hand pain and terror.
Instead of rehashing and diluting the tale, we'll let Alfonso tell you all about it in his own words: "When I was welding the floor, I noticed there was a piece of carpet on fire. It had slipped through a crack near one of the cuts I had made with the Sawzall, and I started panicking because it was near the gas tank. I stuck my hand through the crack to pull out the piece of carpet that was burning, but since the hole had jagged edges, my hand got stuck. I started freaking out even more and kept thinking to myself, I'm stuck here, and I'm gonna burn with this stupid truck!"
Luckily, Alfonso managed to free his hand, but not without slicing open a vein in it, which sent blood squirting everywhere. Accidents like this happen all too often, and Alfonso learned a couple of things from his brush with danger. First, keep a fire extinguisher handy at all times. Secondly, hand injuries usually mean not being able to work on your truck for a few days. We get the feeling he was more bummed about the lost time than the loss of blood.
When the smoke cleared and the wounds healed, Alfonso found himself behind the wheel and switches of a legit, street-certified mini. And, best of all, he has the pride and confidence that comes only with building a killer custom from scratch.
For more info on Alfonso's 20-inch-tucking Tacoma, look at the Lowdown.