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A 2000 Toyota Tacoma in Wolf’s Clothing

Posted in Features on April 12, 2016
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Probably the most iconic paint scheme in off-road motorsports history (so far) is the white, yellow, orange, and red livery of Ivan “Ironman” Stewart’s Toyota trucks from the late 1980s to the 1990s. And for a good reason. Ironman Stewart should be a hero to anyone who breathes in dirt by choice and loves 4-wheeling. With a successful career in Baja (including 17 Baja 500 wins and three Baja 1000 wins), four SCORE championships, and three Mickey Thompson Entertainment Group Stadium Series championships under his belt, the Ironman was (and is) almost unstoppable. For these reasons and more, Stewart is one of our heroes.

Stewart also made an impression on Bruce Szember of Spokane, Washington. Szember was bitten bad by the off-road bug several years ago and has wrapped it into many aspects of his life. He is a general manager of a large machine shop by trade, but he has dabbled in Ultra 4 racing with team Machine Head Racing and has toyed (pun intended) with a few other off-road rigs over the years. So when the time came to spruce up a mild-mannered 2000 Toyota Tacoma daily driven by his wife Da Lene, paying homage to Ivan Stewart was part of the plan. Add in several well-thought-out custom touches and you end up with a Tacoma that many would love to own.

We met up with Szember and his lovely (and understanding) wife Da Lene for fun and frivolity in the sand and rocks during 2015 Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah. The Tacoma is for fast fun in the dirt, but with Szember’s background in Ultra 4 racing and a pair of ARB Air Lockers, there are few limits to what the Tacoma would crawl that day on the slick rock trails.

The Tacoma is powered by its original stock 3.4L V-6. The engine breathes via a throttle body spacer and air intake kit from K&N. Spent gases exit through a custom 3-inch exhaust that turns down just before the rear axle.

The front suspension is made up with parts from a Camburg long-travel kit with custom mounted Bilstein air bumps and Bilstein front shocks. The suspension has 13 inches of travel and worked very well in the higher-speed portions of our photo shoot. The long-travel suspension uses axleshafts from a Toyota Tundra, increasing track width. This required use of Fiberwerx front fenders and makes the truck very stable. The front bumper was built by Mike Kim at Offroad Power Products (OPP) and finished off by Bruce Szember himself. It holds a Warn 9.5 Ti winch.

Out back, a 2000 Toyota Tundra rear axle and Fiberwerx bedsides make up for the additional width in the front of the truck. Both front and rear axles were stuffed with 4.88:1 gears and ARB Air Lockers for extra traction. Custom Deaver rear springs elevate the rear of the truck, while damping duties fall to Bilstein.

The Toyota five-speed transmission benefits from the addition of a Hurst shifter but otherwise remains stock along with the factory Toyota transfer case.

The custom Deaver springs are suspended from billet aluminum “Super Shackles” machined by Machinehead Racing that pivot high in the Tacoma’s frame for a supple ride and to help with the 17 inches of rear travel.

The bed cage and spare tire mount were also built by Mike Kim at OPP in Spokane, Washington. Mac’s Custom Tie Downs hold the spare and a cooler in place. A Hi-Lift jack is also mounted to the tube work for any jacking duties.

The rear bumper ties into the bed cage and frame. Yes, this thing crawls well enough to need that height and a rear bumper.

Specifications
2000 Toyota Tacoma
Drivetrain
Engine: 3.4L V-6
Transmission: Toyota 5-speed
Transfer Case: Toyota
Axles: 2000 Toyota Tundra, 4.88:1 gears, ARB Air Locker (front and rear)
Suspension
Springs & Such: Camburg long-travel kit with Eibach springs, custom Bilstein shocks, Bilstein air bumps (front); Spring under rear with Deaver 65-inch rear springs and billet aluminum “Super Shackles” with through-frame shackle pivots, Bilstein shocks (rear)
Tires & Wheels: 35x12.50R17 Goodyear MTRs on Raceline Monster 17x9
Steering: Camburg, Toyota
Lighting: factory Toyota and Whelen
Other Stuff: Custom Offroad Power Products bumpers and bed cage, Fiberwerx front fenders, 4x4 Innovations rollcage with frame tie-ins, K&N FIPK, 3-inch exhaust, Hurst Shifter, ARB compressor, Awesome Ivan “Ironman” Stewart–inspired wrap by Admen Banner and Sign of Spokane, Wash.

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