2001 Toyota Tacoma
If you're not really into minitrucks and you stumble upon a car show, you probably won't stop and check out any of the minis. This makes sense, as this is what most people will do depending on their taste in automobiles, except for guys like Mike Angell. He stopped by a local show and checked out a mint green Toyota Tacoma that previously graced the pages of Mini Truckin', Brandon Perry's "Chump Change" (Mar. '07 issue). After seeing this truck, he set out to find a Tacoma of his own and make it a custom showpiece.
After a couple weeks of checking the local trade paper, he found a 2001 model that had already seen its fair share of modifications, so he met the owner and a deal was struck. The owner was in a bind and needed money, so Mike was able to talk him down a few thousand dollars and took the truck home. The truck had some bodywork and was already 'bagged, so he felt he had a good deal.
The truck also had shaved front corner lights, which Mike didn't really like with the body style, so he made a few calls to see if anyone locally had a set of stock fenders. He heard that Brandon, the owner of the truck that first got him interested in minitrucks, had a set. Mike called him to set up a time to take a look at the parts. Come to find out, the fenders were for the wrong year, but after catching a quick glance at the current state of Mike's truck, Brandon quickly vocalized how the truck was too dangerous to be on the road. They discussed what needed to be done to make the Toyota road-worthy, and a game plan was set up for execution. Two days later, Brandon came to pick up the truck to take back to his workspace, The Drag Shop, where it would be gutted and repaired so Mike would have a dependable truck to drive. Being that Brandon had built his past feature truck with his own hands and was currently in the middle of conducting a major overhaul (keep an eye out for it in a future issue for the outcome), it was obvious to Mike that his new friend knew his way around a Toyota.
During the repair, Mike couldn't help but notice how crazy the work was developing on Brandon's truck, and he starting asking what it would take to get his truck to a level that would really catch people's eyes on the street. Mike decided to let Brandon fix the body, including replacing the handles that were put in at a 45-degree angle, and make the appropriate repairs for paint. Midway through the bodywork, they discovered the bed was in such bad shape that it couldn't be repaired, so Mike went and picked up a new bed to be shaved and stretched to clear the rear wheels. He stopped by the shop the day the final stage of bodywork was to be wrapped up and Brandon told him if he was to ever want a bodydrop, now was the time to do it before the rear skin was welded on. Mike said he was fine with the truck just laying frame. Brandon's wife walked into the shop and overheard this and threw her two cents worth into the conversation. "Are you serious? You don't want a bodydrop? You're a [expletive deleted]. Even I have a bodydropped truck" ("Pavement Princess", May '99). Deciding he didn't want to be outdone by his own wife, he told Brandon to go ahead and cut the floor to do the 3-1/2-inch bodydrop. Brandon was able to do this and still keep full use of the heat and air conditioning so the Tacoma would remain a comfy and custom daily driver. The bedfloor was raised and the notch opening was rolled for a clean finish before the Line-X coating was sprayed.
A short time later, the Toyota was once again ready for paint, but this time around it actually made it into the booth. After seeing the truck back together, minus the interior, Mike made the decision to go ahead and have most of the interior painted to match while the seats and a few other panels were wrapped in two-tone black vinyl. A few finishing touches were made, including painting a few engine pieces along with the air tank, and Mike's truck was loaded on a trailer and taken to the Heritage show in Whitesburg, Kentucky, where it was placed in front of our cameras to broadcast the final results worldwide.
After all was said and done, the suspension, bodywork, paint, and bodydrop were completed during afternoons and weekends over a three-and-a-half-month period all while Brandon was working a fulltime job, going to college, and helping his wife with their two boys. This build just goes to show that when someone finally gets their hands on a minitruck and finds the right shop, things can progress rather quickly.
Check out the Lowdown for all the details on this super-clean Tacoma.