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1997 Toyota T100 4x4 - Leap Of Faith

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Posted October 1, 2004

Pre-Tundra Toyota

Sooner or later, you'll be faced with making a decision without having enough time to ponder the pros and cons. The results of such decisions will vary, but for the most part, they don't normally turn in your favor. If you enjoy the rush from leaps of faith, then you probably play the roulette tables in Las Vegas. On occasion, good things come from blind decision-making. If the timing is good and you're educated on the subject, the percentage of good results increases.

Chad McGarity of Encinitas, California, found this to be true when he made an educated guess on a cheap T100 he purchased via the Internet. Chad was scouting for talent on his favorite Web sites when a pop-up window suddenly overtook him. A picture of a '97 Toyota T100 4x4 with a discounted price tag got Chad to pick up the phone and call the owner. But there was one little problem: The truck was in Pennsylvania.

Chad wasn't about to go purchase a ticket to Pennsylvania for a T100, so he entertained the idea of gambling on it. Chad was sure the owner was honest about the working condition of the truck, which brought him closer to purchasing the truck unseen.

Pam McGarity (Chad's wife) was ready to brain him for investing a few thousand dollars without being able to investigate the truck. Did we mention Chad is a sadomasochist (which basically means he likes to inflect pain on himself)? He pulled out the Visa and purchased the truck sitting in a driveway about 3,000 miles away. Three weeks later, the Toy' showed up on a car hauler. Pam made Chad drive the truck "as is" for a year, just to make up for the fact that he'd gambled without her blessing. She wasn't too bent, though, because the truck was in pretty good shape. The year of driving the T100 gave Chad a chance to make some decisions on what he was going to do next.

The problem with off-roading, like most expensive habits, is that you just can't get enough. Chad set out to put his prerunning desire to rest when he started building the Toy'. After careful consideration, the little truck was taken to JD Fabrication in San Marcos, California, where most of the build took place. Jesse and Dave of JD Fabrication tore into the truck, removing all the stock suspension components and fabricating the 4x4 with controlled long-travel flexibility. Up front, the A-arms and knuckles were completely scratch-built and opened up with a larger track width and longer stroke. A one-off rollcage stretches across the length of the prerunner, strengthening the frame. Triangulated webbing strengthens the roll-bar tubing at intersections and bends where forces from off-roading would make the frame flex. Long scratch-built trailing arms and an upper wishbone link attach the frame and differential. Triple bypass dampers and 2-1/2-inch coilovers on each corner tame the radical suspension movement. This suspension setup provides 18 inches of 4x4 wheel travel.

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