This story begins in East Africa, where my FJ Cruiser has done more than should be asked of any truck.
But, I've learned a lot from my experience and I want something different next time.
I like the power of the V6, and there are situations where the automatic has been nice, but I often regret not having a manual transmission. I often have to spend more time and effort packing the FJ Cruiser than one should in an expedition situation - the rear load area is simply too small. And, with its big steel bumpers and other features, it doesn't really carry much for its length and weight.
These factors drove me to spend the past year deciding exactly what I wanted... and now I've begun building it. I began with a brand new 2012 Tacoma TRD 4.0 4x4 6spd. It still has less than twenty miles on it. But it's already undergoing some serious surgery.
My goal is to create an expedition vehicle that is Tacoma-based, but shorter (under 16.5 feet) and hence can be loaded safely in a 20-foot container with one or two NATO crates of supplies behind it. I also decided that the look of an expedition vehicle is important to me, and this may be the part most interesting to some readers (and not at all interesting to others): I wanted to create something very much like a late 1970's or early 1980's truck. In fact, I thought about restoring one into an expedition vehicle, but they just aren't the right platform for real expedition work. And the parts are rare, hard to find, and often worn or broken. But what if you could create something that sort of symbolized what the Hilux would have been if it had stayed in America... an expedition vehicle with a touch of the past, instead of an older truck updated into the future? What would a Toyota truck look like that had been a "retromod" rather than a "restomod" project?
That's the purpose of this experiment.