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2002 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab 4x4 - Building the Four Wheeler 40th Anniversary Toyota Tacoma, Part 1

Drawing Top View
Marty Fiolka | Writer
Posted August 1, 2002
Photographers: Toyota

We Add TRD Power to our Sweepstakes Truck

Step By Step

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  • TRD’s stunning supercharger system is a very popular upgrade, and for very good reasons. Legal in all 50 states, the state-of-the-art Roots-type blower unit adds an estimated 75 horsepower to the Toyota’s 3.4L V-6 engine, plus an additional torque gain of 77 lb-ft. The kit from TRD is complete with all of the installation hardware, a detailed set of instructions and a newly revised dynamic belt tensioner. All of these items are of O.E. quality, and all can be used without screwing up the truck’s factory warranty.

  • This supercharger installation is possible for a competent do-it-yourselfer—but our suggestion is to have a Toyota dealership technician do it. That’s what we did. Instructions are very complete, and the procedure begins with the removal of the stock throttle body and intake manifold. Here’s a helpful Four Wheeler hint: Be sure to draw a diagram of all the vacuum hoses and cable routing to help you later.

  • An important step in the disassembly process for the supercharger installation involves properly marking the power steering and air-conditioning drive belts. Using tape or permanent marker, make certain that the belts are marked so that they will be reinstalled so that they always run in the same direction. Reversing the direction of the belts will cause them to fray over time.

  • One of the neatest parts of the TRD supercharger kit is this nicely done template to help you trim the engine’s timing belt cover to provide clearance for the supercharger. It provides a simple but foolproof way to mark where the cover needs to be cut. A hacksaw blade is all that’s needed for a clean cut.

  • Care must also be taken in the attachment of the throttle body to the blower unit. A new gasket is provided to withstand the manifold pressure, and it must be positioned properly on the throttle body. Once that's complete, you can reinstall the air-filter tube and all of the engine's cables, vacuum hoses and fuel lines.

  • One way to increase the truck’s power is to decrease exhaust backpressure. For that job, we chose this TRD Sport after-cat exhaust. Installation was fairly easy. Beautifully made of stainless steel, the TRD system includes a trick exhaust tip and adds a healthy tone to the engine.

  • The Tacoma’s stock exhaust comes off easily, especially when the system is new and not rusty. When you do this job, be certain to carefully remove the stock oxygen sensor and hardware. One of the best features of the new TRD system is that it uses all of the stock hanger locations.

  • The TRD exhaust is a beautiful piece—actually it’s two pieces. The two stock hangers are used to hang the front part of the muffler, then bolt it to the rear tailpipe assembly. The rear rubber hanger is simply flipped upside-down in its stock location to reorient new hooks. The system adds approximately 5-6 horsepower at the rear wheels.

  • With the job nearly complete, the supercharger looks as though it was born atop the Tacoma’s engine. It runs like it, too. After a brief period that allowed the engine management computer to recalibrate itself to the supercharger and exhaust system, our 40th Anniversary Sweepstakes Tacoma now has an extra 75 horsepower.

  • Here’s the TRD Toyota V-6 header system, designed to squeeze into the truck’s very tight engine compartment. System includes complete instructions, gaskets, hardware, the exhaust manifold and a trick crossover pipe. Special TRD-cast exhaust flanges (as opposed to flame-cut units) are a nice touch.

  • The process of the header installation begins with the removal of the stock system. We should mention that all but the most skilled mechanics should leave this job to Toyota professionals. Installation requires welding of one catalytic converter flange, removal of fuel lines, engine controls and skidplates—not to mention lifting the engine slightly to install the crossover pipe. Some dealers actually remove the transmission to install the pipes.

  • With the help of TRD Senior Technician Bob Garner, our installation is now nearly complete. Garner, who teaches Toyota technicians all around the country how these installations should be done, made the whole thing look easy. Here, he installs the finishing touch: a special high-flow TRD air-filter assembly that replaces the stock unit.

As you may know, Four Wheeler is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. That’s right, for four decades we’ve brought the colorful world of four-wheeling to life, covering everything from the simple days of World War II-surplus Jeeps to the sophisticated machines and still-growing lifestyle of today’s off-road scene. Just think: If you’d kept all 480 issues—well, your wife would be after you to get rid of them.

Being the generous and creative types we are, we figured Four Wheeler’s anniversary was a great opportunity to make our readers part of something really special. No, not a complete set of back issues. Instead, together with our friends at Toyota, BFGoodrich and a selection of some of the industry’s best parts manufacturers, Four Wheeler is building a special project Toyota Tacoma to give away to one of you. Right, one lucky winner will drive off in this brand-new Tacoma as part of our 40th Anniversary sweepstakes.

Over the next four issues, we will transform a Toyota Tacoma Double Cab into a vastly capable custom 4x4 that will be given away in November here in Los Angeles. Our plans for the Toyota call for power upgrades, a trick new suspension, interior modifications and a cool graphics and paint scheme.

But that’s not all. After picking up the project Tacoma, the winner—it might be you—will join a Four Wheeler staffer for the adventure of a lifetime at the 2002 SCORE Baja 1000 in Ensenada, Mexico. As an official member of the BFGoodrich/Toyota Class 1 team, you will be able to chase the event in your new truck and have the chance to be strapped into the potent Groff Motorsports Toyota-powered BFGoodrich two-seater as a co-driver for one section of the 2002 Baja 1000.

The Groff Motorsports team competes in Class 1 for unlimited open-wheel machines, considered the Indy cars of desert racing. In fact, the lineup of Groff Motorsports drivers includes former Indy 500 drivers Mike and Robbie Groff, who will be joined at the Baja 1000 with teammate Marty Fiolka—that would be me—and current CART and Indy 500 star Jimmy Vasser.

Just think of it: Winning the one-of-a-kind Four Wheeler 40th Anniversary Toyota Tacoma and racing the legendary SCORE Baja 1000 as an official co-driver in one of the fastest cars in the desert. It’s the ultimate sweepstakes award—and you can win it!


While we are the first to admit that big domestic V-8s hold a special place in our collective heart, there’s also something to be said for the nimbleness that comes with a compact vehicle. That’s one of the reasons that Toyota products have appealed to Four Wheeler staffers for a long time.

For the foundation of our Four Wheeler 40th Anniversary project, we chose a 2002 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab 4x4 with its standard 3.4L V-6. The truck also features a four-speed automatic and a two-speed transfer case with a 2.56:1 low-range ratio. Because only the best will do for our readers, we included the TRD Offroad package that includes wider fender flares, a cool center console and, most importantly, an electric rear locker. The truck also is outfitted with the “Limited” package that adds a host of nice luxuries, including a chrome grille, door handles and rear bumper, power door and window locks, cruise control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, upgraded instrumentation, a built-in AM/FM CD player and sliding rear window glass. Complete with air-conditioning and power-assisted steering, the Tacoma, which is built in California, carries a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of just over $28,000.

So what we’re starting with is the truck which won Four Wheeler’s Ultimate 4x4 Comparison last year by trouncing vehicles from Jeep, Hummer and Land Rover. Now it’s time to take a great truck and make it even better, turning it into the Four Wheeler 40th Anniversary Toyota.

The number-one item on our extensive upgrade checklist was our truck’s powerplant. If this truck is going to carry Four Wheeler’s anniversary logo on its hood, and it is, we’d better have a little extra power under the hood.

While it’s possible to follow many paths on the search for power, our first call was to the experts at Toyota Racing Development (TRD). As part of Toyota’s U.S.-based family of companies, these guys are the absolute authority on Toyota performance. After just one flip through its catalog, we knew that a TRD supercharger, a set of stainless-steel headers and performance exhaust system were just what our project truck needed.

TRD performance components enjoy several unique features that make them very different from other aftermarket parts. Fit and finish of each product is excellent, and the detailed instructions for each product’s installation and use are some of the best we’ve seen. TRD components are available only through the Toyota dealer network, and they are intended to be installed by authorized Toyota technicians. Yes, this is less of a hands-on approach than we normally take, but the plus side of this is that Toyota and TRD will warrantee TRD components with the same five-year, 60,000-mile drivetrain warrantee as the rest of the truck, as long as the parts are installed by a Toyota dealer.

Is all this expensive? The short answer is, yes. But the advantages in engine power and long-term product guarantees are worth it. Also, while the installation of TRD parts is within the capabilities of some talented garage enthusiasts, the complexities of the header and blower installation really are better served by a trained technician.

While the installation of the TRD blower and complete exhaust system takes time, the results are worth the effort. The stock 3.4L V-6 produces 190 hp at 4,800 rpm, with 220 lb-ft of torque at 3,600 rpm. Combined with the new stainless-steel exhaust system, the TRD blower assembly adds 75 horsepower, bumping the engine’s total output to 265 hp at 5,200 rpm, with an additional 77 lb-ft of torque available at 5,200 rpm. In terms of torque, our supercharged V-6 now produces as much torque at 1,800 rpm as the normally aspirated engine does at its peak. And the beauty of it all is that this wonderful power is all smog-legal.

When we pulled away from the TRD facility after the supercharger installation, the power seemed a little flat. Bummer. But our TRD technician warned us of this ahead of time, explaining that the engine’s electronic brain has to recalibrate itself to better control the air/fuel mixture’s newly increased volume, pressure and flow. The trick is to run only premium fuel, and to vary the throttle position in the first 100 miles of driving. A weekend of driving in Los Angeles indeed proved this point, as the truck now has crisp, clean acceleration and a very linear power curve that is a joy to use—nevermind that cool blower whine that now comes from under the hood.


We’ll add a radical new suspension to our project Tacoma, along with special wheels and a set of new BFGoodrich tires. Stay tuned.

Need to catch up on the buildup? To read Part 2, click here.
To read Part 3, click here.

To read Part 4, click here.