Quality craftsmanship, simple ingenuity, and willingness to compromise without cutting corners are what we look for in a feature. Our love for the trail tends to make us feel rushed to complete our long-term projects, thus resulting in no shakedown runs and more do-overs than we'd like to admit. Shawn Swartz knew when he started tearing apart his wife's '95 1/2 Toyota Tacoma that this was no weekend project. Stripping a perfectly solid and running truck down to the frame may sound crazy to some, but for Swartz it was the only way to build the truck exactly the way he wanted.
With the support of his wife Michele, he dedicated over a year's worth of long nights and wrench-filled weekends to transform his wife's daily driver of nine years into the ultimate Taco trail machine. With the Uwharrie Mountains only a few hours from the Swartz coastal North Carolina home, they wanted to build a truck that would be dependable for those quick weekend trips to the rocks, but still maintain a clean fresh look for those fun summer days on the beach.
The homebuilt front bumper houses a 9,000-pound Superwinch along with an entourage of recessed lighting. A Safari series snorkel keeps the Tacoma breathing in the good air, while a set of All Pro sliders provides ample protection for the body and doors. Swartz chose to remove the independent front suspension in favor of a Sky Manufacturing solid front axle to increase articulation and durability on the trail. The new third member uses a factory Toyota TRD selectable locker that was converted to cable actuation for dependable engagement. Maintaining control over the front end is a Hy-Steer system that prevents the steering bars from getting bashed on the rocks.
Year/Make/Model: '95 1/2 Toyota Tacoma
Engine: 3.4L V-6
Tranny: Factory automatic
Transfer Case: Marlin Crawler dual cases 4.7:1
Front Axle: Sky Manufacturing housing, TRD cable-actuated locker, custom Bobby Longfield axleshafts, Rancho RS 9000 shocks, 4.88 gears
Rear Axle: Factory, Detroit Locker, Rancho RS 9000 shocks, 4.88 gears
Suspension: Custom solid-axle swap, 5 1/2-inch All Pro springs
Tires & Wheels: 35x12.50 Goodyear MTRs on 15x8 steel
Misc: Bobbed bed 16 inches, custom front and rear bumpers, 9,000-pound Superwinch, Safari Snorkel, Bushwacker fender flares