"You want this truck," Paul Lucas told his son as they inspected the immaculately clean Tacoma in front of them. Andrew "Drew" Lucas had just graduated high school and his heart was set on a fullsize Dodge Ram. Paul knew the Tacoma's more compact dimensions would fit in places a big truck wouldn't and the Toyota drivetrain was a proven, reliable performer.
Even though he'd give up some payload and towing capacity by going with a smaller truck, Drew agreed with his Dad: The Tacoma was going to fit his needs quite well. Drew was heavily into motocross at the time. He didn't need to haul cubic yards of gravel. He needed to haul his bike and gear to the track. When he wasn't hauling his dirt bike, he was going to be hauling mail on the back roads of California and Nevada. The Tacoma was a perfect fit. Father and son co-signed for a loan, and Drew buckled down to make the payments.
As purchased, the secondhand Tacoma had a TRD supercharger already installed atop the 3.4-liter V-6. Suspension was modest: a 3-inch spacer lift. This was a perfect starting point because the supercharged engine pumped out plenty of ponies. The truck just needed longer legs.
Upgrading the front suspension was easy. Drew went with a Total Chaos long-travel system, which added track width and wheel travel to the Tacoma's growing arsenal. The TC system came in a kit and bolted to the stock pivot locations.
The rear suspension was a juxtaposition of clear-and-simple with dark-and-murky. The spring-under leaf configuration was a tried-and-proven upgrade. Shock mounting was more complicated. Drew didn't want a traditional bed cage invading his cargo space, yet he wanted to use all the potential wheel travel the springs offered. Inspired by what he'd seen on desert racing trucks, Drew decided cantilever-mounted shocks were the way to go. Creating the concept was the easy part. Putting the mental picture into metal was the tough aspect. "I wanted to mount the shocks with a rising rate," Lucas reveals. "Rear shocks are connected to a rising-rate linkage on a motocross bike, so I was sure this would help my truck's performance as well. The cantilever shock system took trial and error. I revised and rebuilt it at least twice before I came up with something I was happy with."
The long-travel, spring-under rear leaf system combined with the self-designed-and-fabricated cantilever shock system gave Drew exactly what he was after. With 16 inches of rear wheel travel, it's a good match for the 13-inch travel up front. The bed floor is wide open and ready to haul a dirt bike, camping gear, or the mundane stuff of everyday life. The cantilever system is stealthy, too. At first glance the back end of the truck looks deceptively stock.
Along the way, the truck got a new name. Few things are as fun as grabbing a handful of throttle on a motocross bike, feeling the acceleration and hearing the Braaaaap! sound of the high-performance engine. Stomping the gas pedal in his Tacoma produces a similar effect, so Drew decided to call it the Braap Mobile. Whether throwing roost through a turn or levitating off of a jump, Drew, Paul, and the Braap Mobile have many a mile behind them. And many miles ahead.
Vehicle: 2001 Toyota Tacoma 4x4 SR-5 with TRD option package
Owner/Hometown: The Lucas Family/Los Osos, California
Engine: Toyota 3.4-liter V-6 with TRD supercharger
Transmission: Toyota A340-E with valve body mods by Level 10
Transfer case/low range ratio: stock Toyota/2.56:1
Front suspension: Total Chaos long-travel kit, 13 inches of travel, functional 4x4, King coilover and bypass shocks
Rear suspension: Spring-under using Deaver F67 leaf packs, Total Chaos spring plates, spring hangers, and shackles. Drew designed and built the cantilever system. Rocker arms were CAD drawn and laser cut by Dirt Designs in Atascadero, California. Sway-A-Way three-tube, 10-inch stroke bypass shocks combine with the cantilever system and Deaver springs to produce 16 inches of wheel travel.
Ring and Pinion: 4.88:1
Rear Differential: Stock Tacoma rearend with factory TRD e-locker. Rear disc coversion via Ruff Stuff Specialties kit that uses Tacoma front calipers and rotors.
Tires: 285/75R16 BFGoodrich Mud Terrain T/A KM
Wheels: 16x8 American Racing Outlaw II
Parting Thoughts: "Filling out the tech sheet brought back a lot of memories," Drew writes. "I thought about all the times I spent with my father off-roading and exploring back roads at a young age, visiting the SCORE shows and MTEG races. And the times I now spend with him driving through the middle of the desert arguing about which way to go. The best part of this truck is the memories. Every trip brings one or more unforgettable moments."