It's a good idea to be friendly with the neighborhood tire guy when you have 550 lb-ft of
It was about the time we were sideways around the corner, with the traction and stability control futilely attempting to rein us in while beeping its displeasure at our antics, that we vaguely remembered legendary racer Ivan "Ironman" Stewart's last words to us only minutes before when handing us the keys-something to the effect of, "Have fun, and watch the throttle." Well, watching the throttle is easier in theory than in practice when you have 550 lb-ft of supercharged torque under your right, supplied by a TRD blower. It was unspoken, but Ivan knew, just as we did during the hand-off of the keys that hoonage would immediately ensue in this unsupervised drive.
We figured Ivan must have approved, because he showed us a way to disable the traction control, so we immediately tested it by power braking perfectly good General tires to smokey bits of submission in an exuberant display of overzealous pedal application. The goofy smiles on our faces took hours to remove.
A few months before this test, the Ivan "Ironman" Stewart Signature Series Tundra was announced, and we immediately set up a date to check out this 1/2-ton brute in person. These limited-edition four-wheel-drive Tundras benefit from a host of upgrades through three stages of Ironman packages, a grouping of parts that have been hand-selected by Ivan for their quality and performance. Ivan tells us his goal was to put together a truck that he would be proud to drive, one that is strong, capable, and confident without being flashy or attention-grabbing through the use of obnoxious stickers and badges.
At the heart of the Stage 3 kit is TRD's massive 5.7L supercharger.
Designed in conjunction with Hurst, the shifter is modeled after the Ironman's own grip.
Beautifully crafted 20-inch Alcoa wheels were designed with the TRD big brake kit in mind.
And so the work began to put together staged packages, of which the final breakdown is as follows:
Stage 1 of the Signature Edition includes Ivan "Ironman" Stewart polished 20-inch Alcoa forged wheels, Magnaflow stainless steel after-cat exhaust with logo, General AT2 All-Terrains, a Bilstein 2-inch leveling suspension system, an awesome Ivan "Ironman" Hurst shifter molded after Ivan's own grip, Signature Series badging, and a numbered dash plaque.
Stage 2 includes everything from Stage 1 and adds Stage 2 badging, N-Fab bumper-mounted lightbar, four Hella 700FF lights, an extruded billet-aluminum bedrail system, and a polished-aluminum alloy fuel door.
The ultimate Stage 3 package that we sampled includes all of the above plus the mighty TRD supercharger, TRD big brake package, Hella performance headlights with black-out housings, a body-colored grille shell, a metal-finished OEM grille, and a full Katzkin Leather interior with embroidered logos.
We have to admit the overall feel of the Signature Series is subtle, but effective.
We were most impressed with the Stage 3 Signature Series Tundra's docile composure on the highway, feeling much like a stock Tundra at speed, with no hint of the brooding rabid animal ready to unleash a ferocious, foaming attack with just a stab of the skinny pedal. You could drive the truck all day and never dip in to the humongous power reserve, but it lies in wait ready for the passing maneuver. Only a hint of Magnaflow rumble reminds you of what lies lurking under the hood.
These bedrails are specific to the Signature Series trucks.
Part of the Stage 2 package includes and N-Fab lightbar and Hella lights.
The Ironman has 83 career off-road wins, including 17 Baja 500 victories.
Ride quality is firmer, but excellent, with only a little bit more tire harshness over stock, which is the trade-off well accepted for the General's much-improved traction. Braking is awesome, as expected, with TRD calipers that grasp the rotors every bit as tight as the Ironman's own handshake. All of the different components work harmoniously together and prove the Signature Series Tundra is a solid, well-rounded, well-engineered vehicle.
Attention to detail is evident in all of the components-even the badging is done by the OEM supplier to Toyota-and is everywhere you look and everywhere you touch. The truck looks good and goes fast, and from the dealer it is likely to go even quicker with only 500 on tap for the first year of production.
The serialized packages will be sold through participating dealers in Southern California and Arizona, with plans to expand to others in the future. And while they may not be an official Toyota package, owners will still be covered under warranty and will get a lifetime membership to the Ivan Stewart enthusiast club, along with a membership to the owners' registry for these vehicles.
Best of all, you know you are driving more than just a sticker and badge package-this is one the Ironman has had his hand in from the beginning and wholeheartedly endorses. And so do we.
High-quality parts, grip like Ivan grips, gobs of unrelenting tire-shredding power
Only 500 available
The Tundra we want to own