Front Lift Options for First-Gen Taco
I have a ’96 Toyota Tacoma SR5. I’m thinking about giving it a small lift, something like 2 to 2½ inches. I know what to do in the rear—either new leaf springs or the add-a-leaf system. My question is how do I lift the front? I do not have a solid axle in the front—it’s IFS.
How about a basic leveling kit? Revtek, Daystar, and Trail Master offer kits that will get you 2½ to three 3 of front lift, and Skyjacker and Fabtech make coilover conversions that provide similar amounts of elevation. Check out some of the ads in this issue, and do a little comparison shopping on the Internet. There are plenty of good options out there for your truck.
Electrified FW Project Rigs?
Is it time for you to build an electric trail rig? I remember many years ago you wrote up an electric Series 1 Land Rover. All this hybrid stuff is high-end dollars, and the future is coming. Could you electrify something with a real transfer case and solid axles? (There was that series-hybrid Wrangler a few years back.) Also, there’s a company out of Canada that sells an S-10 electric conversion, and you could toss a diesel generator in the bed and hit the trail (after the solid axle swap). Imagine the impact if you guys would build one and hit the show and off-road events. You could show the non-off-road public that we are serious about the future of our sport.
Brooklyn Park, MN
True enough, and the thought of building an all-electric 4x4 is an intriguing idea since electric vehicles generate their maximum torque at zero rpm. (How’s that for low-end power?) There are, however, some things to take into consideration.
The first is total cost. A DIY conversion kit like the one for S-10s you mentioned will run about $10,000 (and batteries are usually not included). If you have someone else do the conversion work, add two to five thousand more. In addition, most EV conversion kits run a direct current (DC) setup due to convenience, lower cost, and the fact that you don’t need anything beyond a simple DC controller and motor to make it work. If you want a DC-to-AC conversion (which will give you extended range, better performance, and the ability to plumb in regenerative braking), this will cost several thousand on top of what you’ve doled out thus far.
Then there’s the matter of batteries. The EV conversion kits we’re familiar with run upwards of 20 batteries (and sometimes more, depending on vehicle type and driving demands) hooked up in sequence. It’s not a terribly complicated system to set up, but it begs the question: Where do you put all the batteries? You’re also going to add about 1,000 pounds of weight when all is said and done, so you have to figure out how to distribute that weight without it messing up your vehicle’s chassis and suspension dynamics.
Finally, there’s range. That S-10 equipped with an automatic transmission will only be good for some 35 miles max at conventional road speeds before the system needs a recharge; a manual transmission-equipped model will get maybe 50. Swap in a heavier solid axle in place of the Chevy IFS, and those numbers go down further.
Bottom line: A generic diesel engine swap (cost: around $7 grand, give or take) makes a lot more sense to us than an electric conversion both in terms of cost and eco-friendliness, since modern-day diesels are quite clean and deliver excellent mileage—not to mention superior torque. But we’re certainly open to the possibility down the road as consumer EV technology becomes more widely available and less expensive.
No Late-Model Dakota Mods?
I’ve been trying to get a couple of questions answered for several years now and no one seems to have a good enough answer for me. So here are my questions and I hope you guys can finally put an end to my curiosity! Does anyone have a suspension lift kit for my ’04 Dodge Dakota Quad Cab 4x4 SLT? Are there any superchargers, or any upgrade kits for my 4.7L V-8? I’ve read that the Ford Mustang has several upgrades for its 4.6L V-8, and it has dual overhead cams like my 4.7L. Why couldn’t I use the same upgrades for my 4.7? Is there that much difference between the two?
Now, I did find in my investigations on the upgrades to my Dakota that a company called Airbagit (www.airbagit.com) has a 4.5-inch, four-link suspension lift kit for my Dakota, and the cost isn’t that bad—it runs about $1,600, but I am unsure of the site and cannot find anyone who has used them. Is this an investment that I should make? Or do you guys know of a better one?
Via the Internet
Well, there’s not much difference between a 5.4L Ford truck engine and a 5.3L Chevy truck engine, either—except for the compression ratios, firing orders, air/fuel ratios, bore diameters, stroke lengths, intake runner lengths, cam profiles, and every piece of reciprocating mass that’s inside the block. Otherwise, they’re darn near identical. (So please, don’t go there.)
In general, pickings for your Gen-3 Dakota are pretty slim, most likely because the following model year (2005) marked the introduction of the higher-output version of the 4.7L, which attracted a lot more attention from the performance aftermarket. A Florida company called KRC Performance used to offer a supercharger for the 4.7L, but the company has since been sold; it’s possible you might find one of their older units being sold by some jobber on eBay. Kenne Bell (www.kennebell.net) used to make a supercharger for this engine, too, and may still have some in stock. Volant also makes a cold-air intake for it.
We’re not too familiar with the four-link suspension source you mention, though generally speaking, airbag suspensions for your (midsize truck) application are generally tuned for guys who lower, not lift, their trucks. Such a lift would probably work if you’ve absolutely got to have one, but we’d guess that your ride and handling are going to be pretty harsh at full inflation pressures. If you’re looking for other, more conventional suspension options, sorry to say, but you’re basically hosed. Perhaps some Dodge-savvy readers have some suggestions here.
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