Containerized: Retromod Global Tacoma

Containerized

Adventurer
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.
 

Containerized

Adventurer
This project was delayed primarily because of my work in East Africa and because Toyota actually couldn't find me a white Tacoma 4x4 V6 6spd TRD. So I ordered one to be built in January. I bought the Tacoma in February of 2012, and a friend picked it up and took it to his shop for disassembly. I was in Juba, South Sudan at the time, so I didn't actually get to see the truck until I visited the States and saw it under construction.

The goodies, at this point, were all ordered. The winch, the Stage 4 ICON suspension, the ROTOPAX stuff, the short-shifter, etc. But a lot of this stuff would be designed just for this truck: a custom front and rear bumper design with the winch completely hidden (inspired in part by OldSven's bumper). A retro front end recalling the late 70's and early 80's. A tailgate from the final run of U.S. Hiluxes grafted into this project. A custom-length bed that would have higher payload but shorter length than stock. A project to graft the box section rear frame design of the Hilux onto the Tacoma. The use of 2x2 steel tube to strengthen the front end and the suspension hard points. And some other tricks and bits here and there. This is a no-compromises project from both an expedition prep and styling standpoint... the closest thing to being able to restore that old Toyota truck you want and drive it around Africa.



Is that Taco winking at me? Yes, that's an FJ80 headlamp set being fitted onto a Taco for that old-school look. The real trail and off-road lighting will come from twin, dual-row XMITTER bars in the grille.



The front bumper design, mocked up in cardboard. Note the completely hidden winch and nearly-flush-fairlead design.



The M8000 is hidden completely inside.



Too often, parts are mixed and matched without any thought to how they were meant to be mounted or used. Here, the FJ80 headlamp support, bracket, and J-bracket have been fitted into the Tacoma, so the Landcruiser headlamp installs just like it would on an FJ80.



The new hood and fender bodywork gets mocked up.



The frame will be cut and boxed to match the new bed. The twin-box-section design of the newest Hilux will be combined with the X-brace of the Tacoma.



As someone who loves old Toyotas, I thought we should add a classic touch. This is a 1977-8 Hilux tailgate section found in great condition being grafted into the Tacoma tailgate.



When finished, it'll look like it left the factory that way.



Shortened bed section awaits its waterjetted steel caps, headache rack, and front bulkhead mounts for spare and jerrycans.



The ICON Stage 4 kit and XMITTER lighting units have arrived.
 
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Containerized

Adventurer
Scott C - No, the FJ is still in northern Uganda but will likely be sold before the year is up. Planning to sell it in South Sudan, where an FJ Cruiser with 50,000 miles will bring as much as 50% more than MSRP. Until then, I'm driving it... we're planning one last trans-Uganda trip with it in July, from the northeastern tip of Uganda (Kidepo and K'moj) to the southwestern region (past Lyantonde and into the gorilla country).
 

Ryanmb21

Expedition Leader
Very impressive undertaking! I have subscribed and look forward to learning more. What size tire did you choose?
 

Clutch

<---Pass
Ohhh...I like this! Diggin' the tailgate!

Interesting that you're using LC headlights rather than keeping the round, round seems more retro to me that the rectangles.

b1.jpg

81pu-2.jpg
 
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robert

Expedition Leader
Holy crap that's a lot of work being done to a brand new truck. Just out of curiosity what do you do for a living? I looked at doing some work in South Sudan but then the contract fell through so I'm curious about the place.
 

Containerized

Adventurer
Ryan - I'm running 285/75R16's on my FJ Cruiser and decided to go narrower this time, 245/75R16, after a lot of research. This was partly because I've noticed it's nearly impossible to find something as wide as a 285 overseas in that aspect ratio. I've had a good experience with the KM2's on the FJ Cruiser, so I got another set. In a pinch, even Toyota of Gulu (in northern Uganda) stocks tires in 245/75R16. Local tire shops in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi stock the size, too. If I were wheeling around the U.S. or whatever (somewhere with a good supply chain for tires), I'd probably do the 285/75R16's again, which I consider a good trade-off between technical wheeling ability and performance on secondary (unpaved, but smooth enough to do 30mph) roads. All in all, the main difference will be cosmetic; I doubt there will really be a situation where I say, "Damn, wish I had those 285's..."

Kermit - This was one of the toughest decisions. I thought about going round (FJ60 headlight bucket). You can't use the original '81-84 headlight, since it looks too small compared to the size of the front end on these modern trucks. I thought the FJ80 was a readily-available (even in Africa) part that looks a bit older and I think will work well with the front end I've designed for this truck. Remember, this isn't supposed to be a "clone" of any one year, just something to make you smile if I see you in Nairobi or Juba and you're a fan of the older trucks. I know some people liked Toyota's retro Taco at the SEMA show a few years back, but I really don't think they went far enough. I hope to explore some of those same ideas in this truck, but to actually use it and ship it (rather than just showing it off waxed at a show).

Robert - I'm an economist. I work for a pretty wide range of clients, but primarily investment banks... my work involves anything from oil to agriculture to exports and port facility privatization. And it lets me have a lot of fun driving across cool places, which is the big perk for me. I've been on assignment in northern Uganda for the past year, living near the South Sudan border and doing research that will eventually lead to a financial product in the insurance industry.
 
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haven

Expedition Leader
At SEMA in 2009, Toyota showed a concept vehicle that combined a current Tacoma body with 80 series Land Cruiser drivetrain, including solid axles.

http://news.pickuptrucks.com/2009/09...he-future.html

Since we can't buy a vehicle like this from Toyota USA today, we'd have to build one. First, start with an Access Cab PreRunner (about $21,000). Then convert to solid front drive axle. Add a transfer case, and new driveshafts, drop the steering linkage, and we're done!

I see that All-Pro Offroad makes a SAS kit for the Tacoma. Cost is about $10,000 with Dana 60, ARB locker and adjustable coilover shocks.
http://www.allprooffroad.com/95024runnersas
 

Clutch

<---Pass
Kermit - This was one of the toughest decisions. I thought about going round (FJ60 headlight bucket). You can't use the original '81-84 headlight, since it looks too small compared to the size of the front end on these modern trucks. I thought the FJ80 was a readily-available (even in Africa) part that looks a bit older and I think will work well with the front end I've designed for this truck. Remember, this isn't supposed to be a "clone" of any one year, just something to make you smile if I see you in Nairobi or Juba and you're a fan of the older trucks. I know some people liked Toyota's retro Taco at the SEMA show a few years back, but I really don't think they went far enough. I hope to explore some of those same ideas in this truck, but to actually use it and ship it (rather than just showing it off waxed at a show).

.
Yeah, sounds like you are going to actually use it than rub polish on it...(which is good!)

Just my personal opinion...the headlights are one of the ugliest things about the 80...:ylsmoke:

I like how Toyota did the retro grill/headlight treatment...blacked out everything inside the headlight housing except the reflector...so it keeps with the round look, without going to a 7" traditional lamp, as you said, would of looked silly.

What about a LC70 lamp assembly, with the same blacked out treatment?
 
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Clutch

<---Pass
At SEMA in 2009, Toyota showed a concept vehicle that combined a current Tacoma body with 80 series Land Cruiser drivetrain, including solid axles.

http://news.pickuptrucks.com/2009/09...he-future.html

Since we can't buy a vehicle like this from Toyota USA today, we'd have to build one. First, start with an Access Cab PreRunner (about $21,000). Then convert to solid front drive axle. Add a transfer case, and new driveshafts, drop the steering linkage, and we're done!

I see that All-Pro Offroad makes a SAS kit for the Tacoma. Cost is about $10,000 with Dana 60, ARB locker and adjustable coilover shocks.
http://www.allprooffroad.com/95024runnersas

Yeah, I dunno Chip...I am probably one of the few guys who is very content with IFS..and hopes Toyota never goes back to a front solid axle...pretty smug about the petrol engine as well...
 
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