Everyday is Taco Tuesday: A Very Special Tacoma
Updated: Nov 3, 2019
One man's workhorse is another man's thoroughbred stallion, the Toyota Tacoma is the workhorse of choice for many seeking a light-duty pickup truck that will run forever. The packaging is simple; two doors, a short truck bed, enough ground clearance to get around most terrains, and a bullet-proof engine under the hood. So what happens when you turn that ethos upside down and build a truck you actually enjoy driving?
Enter Juan's 1995 Toyota Tacoma V6, by nature it is still a light-duty truck, but to him and others who experience it; it is a daily driven fun car that is a platform for various upgrades that engage him on the road. The story begins with Juan seeking out a 1991 Toyota Pickup that existed before the Tacoma nomenclature but being unable to find something in running condition for the budget he wanted to spend. Searching the internet and it's bevy of classifieds put him in the path of a Mini Cooper Pepper White colored Tacoma, that was at the time being set up for a massive sound system... as Juan put it "I'm not too amused with sound systems, I like exhaust sound."
As the build began there was plenty of ideas swarming around, what wheels, tires, brakes, engine swap... how could Juan get the most out of his Taco without losing drive-ability. The first thing was to lower the car, not needing the clearance as a work truck and having a propensity for nimble cars, Artillery Motorsports out of Lakeland, FL was tasked with creating a "C-Notch." A C-Notch is a way for people who own a body-on-frame truck to lower their vehicles and still allow clearance for their rear axle, this was performed as a custom job to allow the Tacoma to perform reliably while attaining the look and feel Juan desired.
Along with notching the frame a set of 2 inch lowering blocks were installed out back as well as DJM lowering shocks. Up front a pair of Camaro spec QA1 adjustable coil overs were used to balance out the stance on Juan's Tacoma.
When we think about how a vehicle looks we normally gravitate to the wheels, and for this a set of Aodhan DS02 were selected using a pair of 18 x 9.5 up front and 18 x 10.5 in the rear wrapped in Achilles ATR Sport tires. Behind the wheels the front brakes weren't left alone, looking good while in motion means nothing if you can't stop in time so a big brake kit was sourced from various parts on different vehicles. The big brake kit starts with Mitsubishi Evolution 9 rotors that are clamped down by Cadillac ATS calipers using StopTech Pro pads, the final touch is a set of StopTech Subaru Impreza STI brake lines to ensure the brake fluid is getting where it needs to go as quickly as possible.
Rounding out the visible touches outside are HID head lights and LEDs for the turn signals along with new rear tail lamps to ensure other drivers can see Juan on the road during the rainy months.
Under the hood everything has just been refreshed and maintained as the 5VZ V6 isn't an engine that will have a home here forever, ideas of a 1JZ to inject the chassis with more performance are being planned along with a manual transmission.
Expression makes us human and by doing so through machines like this Toyota Tacoma it injects just a bit more life in to the automotive world we enjoy so much. Not every car is a track car, made to dip below the 10 second mark in a quarter mile, nor is every car going to shred tires and spit flames; but there are those cars that express the characteristics of the person behind the wheel. Juan's Taco is a working work-in-progress, it looks great, drives well, and performs every function it has ever been tasked with...now we await what's ahead.