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Nathan’s 2008 Toyota Tacoma: The Ultimate Overlander

Posted in Features on February 27, 2017
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When it comes to building a rig that is well-suited for camping, it’s hard to beat a truck. While a fullsize pickup may offer more room, it can be limiting when it comes to hitting the trail. Having owned multiple four-wheel drives over the years, Nathan Childs purchased his ’08 Toyota Tacoma with a clear vision in mind. Understanding the limits of a fullsize and having a passion for classic Toyota trucks, Nathan set his sights on a Double Cab, shortbed version of the second-gen Tacoma.

With a wife and two children that enjoy off-road exploration too, Nathan set forth to build a rig that could be a camper, wheeler, and all-around practical vehicle. Despite the vast amount of aftermarket support for the Tacoma platform, there were ample custom touches done to the Tacoma to get his truck exactly where he wanted. After all, how many trucks have you seen with dual hammock mounts?

While serving as a camping base is a huge part of this rigs purpose, plenty of effort was put into ensuring that the truck wouldn’t have any trouble reaching remote destinations. Upgrades such as full underbelly skidplate protection, ARB Air Lockers, and an Engo 10,000-pound winch ensure that this Tacoma can make it there and back. Still serving as a daily driver, the amount of thought and detail put in this truck is absolutely incredible. Is it the ultimate overland pickup? We say it’s pretty close.

While there’s plenty of upgrades to keep your eyes busy, one of the most impactful aspects of the rig are the powdercoated white 17-inch FJ Cruiser wheels. To help give the OE wheels better backspacing, Nathan used 1 1/4-inch spacers from Spidertrax. This gives the 34x10.50 BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 tires plenty of room to travel. Other subtle styling cues on the truck can be found with the ’81 Toyota truck badging on the front fenders, base-model fender flares, and mudflaps from an ’80s-era pickup.

At A Glance

Vehicle: ’08 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab
Owner: Nathan Childs
Stomping grounds: Wilmington, North Carolina
Build Time: 3 years
Engine: Toyota 4.0L V-6
Transmission: A750F, five-spd automatic
Transfer case: VF2A, two-spd
Low range ratio: 2.57:1
Crawl ratio: 44.15:1
Front axle/differential: IFS Toyota 8-in/ARB Air Locker, 4.88 gears
Rear axle/differential: Toyota 8-in/ARB Air Locker, 4.88 gears
Front: 2.5-in King coilovers, Light Racing upper control arms, Total Chaos knuckle bracing and skidplates
Rear: All-Pro Off-Road 3-in-lift Expedition springs, Armor Tech Offroad shackle flip, Bilstein shocks
Steering: Stock rack-and-pinion w/polyurethane bushings
Tires: 34x10.50R17 BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2
Wheels: 17x7.5 steel FJ Cruiser
Armor: Brute Force Fab bumpers, Armor Tech Offroad sliders
Cool stuff: CVT tent, Engo winch, KM Voodoo bedrails, Fabline bed rack, Airflow snorkel, onboard air, ARB rear awning, Eastern Cape Overland fold-out wood decks, Thule bike rack, Clazzio seat covers

Aside from the Airflow snorkel used to keep the truck breathing fresh air, there wasn’t much done to alter the stock 4.0L V-6 engine. A secondary fuse block isolates the wiring for the truck’s aftermarket lighting and accessories, while the ARB air compressor remains out of the elements in the engine bay as well.
A set of 2 1/2-inch King coilovers with 700-pound-spring-rate coils were paired with 1/4-inch strut spacers from Old Man Emu. The stock upper control arms were replaced with a set from Light Racing, while the lower control arms and steering knuckles were braced and protected by products from Total Chaos. To tighten up the steering, Energy Suspension polyurethane bushings were used to replace the stock rubber units. The stock 8-inch front differential was built by East Coast Gear Supply, which fit it with 4.88 gears and an ARB Air Locker.
Out back, a matching set of 4.88 gears and ARB Air Locker were stuffed in the Toyota 8-inch axle. Handling the load are a set of All-Pro Off-Road Expedition springs that work with an Armor Tech Offroad shackle flip kit. A set of 12-inch-travel Bilstein 5100 series shocks provide the damping force. Protecting the low-pinion third member is a diff skid from RCI Off Road.
With a wife and two kids, Nathan wanted to make sure the inside of the Tacoma was durable and comfy. One of the first mods done was to pull the carpet and replace it with a more kid and adventure-friendly OEM vinyl floor kit. With that out of the way, new Clazzio covers made for an easy-to-clean seat upgrade.
A Brute Force Fab front bumper holds an Engo 10,000-pound winch and 21-inch LED lightbar. Continuing the protection is a full set of Armor Tech Offroad skidplates that cover all of the Tacoma’s powertrain vitals and gas tank.
Increasing the departure angle on the pickup is a high-clearance rear bumper from Brute Force Fab. It was optioned with a tire carrier, jerrycan, and table mount, and has a hidden receiver hitch behind the license plate.
The custom bed rack was built by Fabline Fabrication and mounted on metal bedrails sourced from KB Voodoo Fabrications. This setup supports a Cascadia Vehicle Tents rooftop tent, ARB rear awning, and mounts for his bike and Hi-Lift Jack. Both ends of his bumpers were also modified to accept poles for his Eagles Nest Outfitters hammocks. Given Nathan is able to drive on the local North Carolina beaches, this a perfect beachside accessory.
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