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Toy Soldier

Posted in Features on November 13, 2002
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Out here on the West Coast, the off-road scene resides in the desert. Two-wheel-drive trucks and buggies roam about the barren land, soaring through the air after hitting jumps at high speeds. Supporting this high-flying prerunner scene is a new breed of young enthusiasts who are learning to fabricate and engineer while having a good time. These do-it-yourselfers love driving their creations just as much as building them, and 22-year-old Jason LaFortune is a prime example of them.

The West Covina, California, native got into the sport at the age of 17, helping out with Vision Entertainment's 7s race truck. From there, Jason learned how to fabricate and engineer. When it came time to go to college, Jason enrolled at Cal Poly Pomona as an engineering major hoping to gain more knowledge for his hobby. Unfortunately, Jason lost interest in the engineering major over time and switched to business.

With his vast knowledge and skills, Jason crafted his first truck, an '89 Toyota truck. Being the first one, it was a stepping stone for him. As things broke, Jason took note of them for future reference and worked on making them better. Overall, the project was strong and sturdy and performed well out in the dirt. It was the truck's strong rollcage that proved to be his best piece of work; it saved his life after being hit by a reckless drunk driver in March of 2000, totaling his truck.

After spending three months in physical therapy recovering from the injuries of his accident, Jason began the process of building a new and improved Toyota. Searching junkyard after junkyard, he finally came across a project worthy '93 Toyota frame and extra cab. Itching to build, Jason eagerly purchased the frame and cab and transported it home.

To fund the new project Toy, Jason founded DC Motorsports with friend Kurt Youngs, making custom bumpers, light bars, and lift kits. With his share of the profits, the project could take form.

Working from the frame, Jason, along with friends Kurt Youngs, Chris Sherred, and Allen Russlle, fabricated a full rollcage from MIG-welded 1.5-inch mild steel. The final product is a clean-looking, professional-grade rollcage.

Next in the project was the suspension. Wanting to use the factory mounts, Jason went with Duffco's long-travel A-arm kit. The sturdy 4130 chromoly arms provide 15 inches of travel and a 6.5-inch wider stance. For shock absorption, 12-inch triple-bypass Sway-A-Way Race Runner shocks with remote reservoirs teamed with custom torsion bars, also built by Sway-A-Way, are mounted at the front corners, .

Keeping with the almost-stock theme, a pair of Deaver 62-inch long progressive off-road racing leaf springs is mounted to custom shackles and hangers built by Jason. To ensure maximum travel, the frame is also notched and reinforced above the axle. With a pair of 20-inch triple-bypass Sway-A-Way Race Runner shocks, the cushy rearend has an impressive 20 inches of travel.

For power, the ported and polished 22RE Toyota engine is slightly modified, sporting LC fuel injectors and camshaft. Fresh air enters the engine through a K&N performance air filter and the exits through a custom header and a three-chamber Flowmaster exhaust.

While the five-speed transmission and driveshaft remain stock, a custom-built Ford 9-inch rearend built by Currie Enterprises is bolted up in the rear. The Ford 9-inch is equipped with a 4.88:1 gear ratio, a Detroit locker, and disc brakes. The new rearend is 4 inches wider than stock to help match the front.

Once the mechanical aspects were finished, a one-piece Toyota Tundra hood and bed sides from Hannemann's Fiberglass in Azusa, California, were mounted up to the truck. The next stop was Earl Scheib, where the custom bright-orange paint was applied.

On the inside of the cab, two PRP seats with SPARCO five-point safety harnesses are bolted to the floorboard. For tunes, a Sony Xplod CD player and a 1,500-watt amp drown out the noise the 33x10.50R15 BFGoodrich All-Terrain KO tires mounted on 15x7-inch Ultra wheels make out in the dirt.

In 10 months, Jason's Toyota was complete and ready for action. To test his work, Jason entered in the MDR's Kartek 400 prerunner class and finished Third. With his Toyota now complete, Jason's now ready to start his next project -- whatever it may be. If it's any thing like his Toyota, you can count on it being featured in OFF-ROAD.

0103or 01zoom+1993 Toyota Truck+Front Passenger Side Airborne
0103or 02zoom+1993 Toyota Truck+Rear View Bed Cage And Tire
0103or 03zoom+1993 Toyota Truck+Front View Airborne
0103or 05zoom+1993 Toyota Truck+Front Suspension Close Up Shocks
0103or 06s+1993 Toyota Truck+Wheel Close Up
0103or 07zoom+1993 Toyota Truck+Rear Suspension Set up
0103or 08zoom+1993 Toyota Truck+Rear Shot Skid Plate And Transfer Case
0103or 09zoom+1993 Toyota Truck+Front Passenger Shot Truck Sliding Through Dirt
0103or 10zoom+1993 Toyota Truck+Front Light Bar
0103or 11zoom+1993 Toyota Truck+Front Passenger Side View Showing Paint Job
0103or 12zoom+1993 Toyota Truck+Rear Shot Showing Bed Cage And Tires
0103or 13zoom+1993 Toyota Truck+Interior Steering Wheel And Cockpit
0103or 14zoom+1993 Toyota Truck+Engine Shot

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