2002 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab 4x4 - Building the Four Wheeler 40th Anniversary Toyota Tacoma, Part 1Posted in Project Vehicles on August 1, 2002
As you may know, Four Wheeler is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. Thats right, for four decades weve 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 todays off-road scene. Just think: If youd kept all 480 issueswell, your wife would be after you to get rid of them.
Being the generous and creative types we are, we figured Four Wheelers 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 industrys 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 thats not all. After picking up the project Tacoma, the winnerit might be youwill 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 Fiolkathat would be meand 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. Its the ultimate sweepstakes awardand you can win it!
While we are the first to admit that big domestic V-8s hold a special place in our collective heart, theres also something to be said for the nimbleness that comes with a compact vehicle. Thats 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 manufacturers suggested retail price of just over $28,000.
So what were starting with is the truck which won Four Wheelers Ultimate 4x4 Comparison last year by trouncing vehicles from Jeep, Hummer and Land Rover. Now its 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 trucks powerplant. If this truck is going to carry Four Wheelers anniversary logo on its hood, and it is, wed better have a little extra power under the hood.
While its 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 Toyotas 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 products installation and use are some of the best weve 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 engines 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 engines electronic brain has to recalibrate itself to better control the air/fuel mixtures 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 usenevermind that cool blower whine that now comes from under the hood.
Well add a radical new suspension to our project Tacoma, along with special wheels and a set of new BFGoodrich tires. Stay tuned.