Project Tundra: Phase I
The events of my life over the past two years have been a whirlwind of activity. Before joining the staff of Off-Road magazine I was the proud owner of an '00 Toyota Tacoma laden with tubing from head to toe. It was my baby, my weekend getaway machine, and it was a sad day when it was finally driven out of my driveway and into another's. The day I finally stomached the decision to part with my pride and joy, I knew my next vehicle needed to be something that would be both useful for my off-road addiction and practical as a daily-driven vehicle on the streets of Southern California and beyond.
The most logical decision for me was to accept my infatuation with Toyota trucks and move up to the '05 Toyota Tundra 4.7L VVT-i V8 4WD pickup. This time around, I planned to leave the major tube work behind and go for a more practical approach to satiate my hunger for dirt. The process for my new project vehicle would invlove a rather tame buildup yet showcase a flurry of aftermarket goodies to keep me prerunning racecourses on the weekends and driving to work on the weekdays at a comfort level my previous truck could not achieve.
First things first: The power difference between my old truck and my new one is enormous. Out of the box, the '05 Tundra was pushing over 280 hp - plenty, but I wanted more. I visited my friends over at JBA Headers and quickly learned they were on the lookout for an '05 Tundra to test-fit their new Cat4ward ceramic titanium-coated headers. A few of the features of these headers include 3/8-inch-thick laser-cut flanges, stainless steel mandrel-bent tubing, JBA's patented Firecone high-flow collector, and a ceramic titanium coating that provides high-heat thermal protection and long-lasting good looks. The headers fit perfectly to the truck, so we also swapped out the stock exhaust system for a JBA Evol exhaust system.
Next up was improving the remaining portion of air flowing through the truck with a True Flow intake system. The factory airbox was left intact, keeping the air cooler while protecting the True Flow foam filter from debris and moisture. The factory air tube was removed and replaced with JBA's mandrel-bent steel intake tube, which just happened to almost perfectly match the color of my truck. With all of these new parts, the truck now produces an additional 24.8 hp and 26 lb-ft torque, which would make any automotive nut smile.
Next, I wanted a few key body modifications to add eye-catching looks as well as protection and security. ATS Design has been producing show-winning vehicles for a number of years, and it was this reputation that made the company's Tundra front grille a must-have for my buildup. The unit came painted to match the exterior of my truck and has a nicely powdercoated black grille centerpiece.