Owner: Brandon Perry
Ride: 1996 Toyota Tacoma
Hometown: Saint Albans, WV
Club: Relaxed Atmosphere
La Segunda Venida-The Second Coming-is a fitting description for Brandon Perry's '96 Tacoma. It has been built up, torn down, and rebuilt for this, its grand reincarnation.
When a kid first gets into custom vehicles, he or she is usually hooked by the sheer excitement of seeing something cool and different. This excitement usually grows into nonstop wrenching on one's own ride in the parents' driveway, installing aftermarket parts that will make it stand out. With enough determination, a slim percentage of these kids wind up completely tearing their vehicles apart and transforming them into showstoppers, while others who lack the skill and mindset find a local shop that can do the work for them. For Brandon, the thought of letting someone customize any vehicle of his never crossed his mind. At 16 years old, he tore apart his Cutlass and installed hydraulics with nothing more than basic tools and the shelter of his parents' garage. He knew instantly he had the knack for doing his own custom work. Driving around in his crazy creation didn't last long since he kept getting pulled over for hopping it all around town, so in '99 his dad co-signed with him to buy a stock '96 Tacoma with the stipulation that it HAD to remain stock. The purchase was made, and Brandon headed back to the house and bolted on a set of 14-inch wire wheels and stuffed two 12-inch subs behind the seats before his parents returned home from dinner. Let's just say his dad was more than a little pissed, but knowing it was something his son was into, he helped Brandon juice it six months later.
Having the drive in him to be a custom builder at such a young age, Brandon enrolled in a paint and body class and used this Toyota as a guinea pig. It was the first vehicle he completely shaved and painted. This only kept his custom urges at bay for a short time, so the next phase was to ditch the hydros and install a set of airbags-but this still wasn't enough, so the floor was cut to make way for a bodydrop. All of this was done during his limited free time at home from sea while serving in the U.S. Navy. By the time his five-year tour of duty was over in early '05, a good chunk of the body modifications had been finished. After that, it sat in primer awaiting his move back home to West Virginia, where it sat for another year due to a lack of adequate workspace. By '06, he was finally in a house where he could work on the truck again, so it was busted apart and the doors were set on suicide mode, the bed got a full sheetmetal treatment, and the interior was painted and covered in tweed. In September '06, it was shot for its first spread in Mini Truckin' (Mar. '07). It was driven and dragged on a daily basis for about two more years before it was torn back apart to have all the abuse repaired and the body smoothed over one more time in preparation for a new paintjob inside and out a mere seven days before it left on a 1,300-mile round trip to the '08 RA All-Star Event. That was the last show anyone has seen this truck in that form.
With a second metamorphosis in full effect, Brandon decided it was time to quit playing and go all out with the truck and build it into something that would be one step ahead of what is usually seen at shows. He has wanted a skull-themed paint scheme for almost as long as he had owned this truck, but even though he is capable of painting, he still lacked the skill as an airbrush artist. This minor setback changed after meeting Mike Speck from SPECKtacular Kustom Graphics and seeing what he could do with his weapon of choice. The two of them devised a plan to turn the Taco into a tribute to '90s tribal style peppered with tattoo-style skulls. When the design was finally set in stone, Brandon's truck was loaded onto a trailer and dropped off in Lexington, Kentucky, so Mike could get down to business.
No filler artwork or stencils were used during the paint process. Brandon left Mike with a list of about 100 different specific skull ideas he wanted on the truck that would represent his family, his life, and things that were important to him. The rest were left to Mike to flex his full creative control. Mike made sure that the truck had a smooth flow, and even rolled skulls that were on the doors into the jambs so when the doors are open the truck would look complete opened or closed. The wheels were also taped up so the inside of the spokes and center caps could receive some paint themselves. By the time May 2010 came around, it was time for Brandon to head back to Mike's shop. Brandon was blown away at the outcome and quickly loaded it back up and took it home to continue the build. Once home, he noticed that once the bed was set back on, the fully smoothed and boxed frame that was painted silver looked very out of place. Everything was pulled back apart to in order to alleviate the problem by painting the frame black. The suspension was also yanked and was sprayed with Hampstead Green to tie everything together.
If Brandon would have planned the build better from the beginning, he would have constructed the interior before the paint process even started. Knowing that mistakes do happen, he tried to put that behind him and began designing an inner atmosphere that could hang with $100K street rods. The first things to find their way into the cab were chopped and faux-leather-wrapped Isuzu Rodeo seats. A one-off fiberglass dash was built, and just because HVAC controls or any other switches or gauges are not visible doesn't mean they aren't there. All the factory gauge plugs are still intact and are plugged up any time Brandon wants to get the truck on the road, while the temperature controls and head unit are stashed away under the dash. Fiberglass door caps were built to flow into the new dash, while the lower door panels were stripped of all handles and window cranks to make room for the custom-stitched panels. AVS power window and door switches were sunk into the new custom center console (next to the air suspension controls and gauge), which flows up between the seats tying into a full fiberglass seat wrap that completely fills the back cab wall. Details like this are what it takes to ensure people are blown away with the outcome.
For a full disclosure of modifications, check out the Lowdown.
Wheels: 18x7 chrome Omni Concepts with inner spokes painted
Tires: 215/35-18 Kumho Ecsta
Suspension (front): Cup-style brackets, Slam Specialties RE-6 'bags
Suspension (rear): Wrong-way four-link, Slam Specialties RE-7 'bags
Control Arms: Stock with flipped ball joints and re-angled upper ball joints
Shocks: '88 Nissan Hardbody front and rear
Compressor(s): Two Viair 380s
Air/hydro accessories: Custom switch panel in console with AVS mini switches, five-gallon tank, 3/8-inch Easy Street chrome valves
Frame Mods: Notched
Misc.: Entire frame is smoothed and molded and painted 2010 Mercedes Benz black, suspension components are all color-matched Hampstead Green to the graphics, stock gas tank raised
Performed By: Owner
Shaved: Handles, mirrors, gas door, antenna, sheetmetal bed, molded inner fenders, completely molded doorjambs, molded headlight fillers
Bodydrop: 3.25-inch traditional
Body Mods: Upgraded to '98 headlights and grille, 4WD bumper and 2WD valance, billet grille, Grant Kustoms Cali combo, '01-up red clears, handmade third brakelight
Suicide Doors: Of course
Misc.: Truck still has heat and AC
Performed By: Owner
Spiderman and SpongeBob skulls were added to represent Brandon's two sons, Jacob and Conne
Brand & Colors: PPG Hampstead Green graphics, PPG Radiance Candy Emerald Green airbrush work
Misc.: Tribute to '90s minis with the tribal graphics and tattoo-style airbrushing, black 1/8-inch pinstriping applied by hand, over 600 hours of airbrush work, all 505 skulls were applied freehand and every skull is different
Performed By: Base, color, and clear by owner and Jimmy Cross, airbrushing and pinstriping by Mike Speck at SPECKtacular Kustom Graphics
Seats: Chopped Isuzu Rodeo buckets with custom stitching wrapped in tan faux leather
Dash: Hand-built fiberglass
Gauges: Non-existent but can be hooked up for long trips
Misc: Custom fiberglass seat wrap, all fiberglass interior pieces built from scratch, street-rod-style door panels, full-custom center console, tan Bentley carpet, reshaped and wrapped headliner
Performed By: Owner, stitch work by Anna Patton
Head Unit: Alpine
Mids & Highs: Audiobahn
Amplifier for Mids & Highs: Audiobahn
Subwoofers: Three Audiobahn 12s
Amplifier for subwoofers: Audiobahn
Custom Fabrication: Stealth
Performed By: Owner
Engine: '96 four-banger
Detail Work: Entire engine bay, including valve cover and intake tube, are airbrushed
Misc.: Engine is painted 2010 Mercedes Benz black, two Optima RedTops located behind front bumper, molded inner fenders
Performed By: Owner and Mike Speck
"To my beautiful wife for supporting me through all of this madness over the years-I truly love you more than you will know! My two boys, Jacob and Conner, for helping and thinking everything I do is so cool when I know it's really not. My parents for allowing me to cut up cars from the beginning even though they still think I am insane; Mike Speck for the amazing paintjob and for being a good friend; Jimmy Cross for all the help with the paint, buffing, and getting this thing finished up; Dorsey Cross, Brandon Burrell, and John Norris for being good friends and hurrying me to finish. Lee Caudill, Brandon Lacy at Grinstead for the paint supplies, Steve Kosior at Safelite Auto Glass, Billy at Quality Auto Glass, Greg Chandler's Frame and Body for letting us shoot in the shop during business hours, the Mini Truckin' staff for their dedication to minis everywhere, all the people that received my picture messages daily, my club, Relaxed Atmosphere, and anyone else who ever helped me along the way."