Pepe “Peps” Palomo showed up to Top Truck Challenge with a well built 1999 Toyota Tacoma and although it appeared to be the underdog in a field of giant sized trucks with even bigger tires. Powered by a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine, the Tacoma was definitely the underdog hero of TTC 2013. Pepe and his co-driver were probably the most polite people at TTC and seemed to hit it off really well with Four Wheeler’s Tech Editor, Ali Mansour, no doubt since they shared a common interest in gnarly trucks and awesome tattoos. Pepe wowed us right off the bat since many didn’t expect his little Tacoma to be able to pull the 40,000 pound cement truck up the hill during the Tow Test but what the Tacoma lacked in size, it made up for in strength as it pulled the heavy rig up the hill quite a ways to a respectable finish.
Pepe was doing great in the Frame Twister but got crossed up when he reached the slippery parallel logs and after suffering a winch cable failure, he ended up trying to push the mighty Tacoma through the course under it’s own power but ultimately ended up going out of bounds on the course which resulted in a disqualification from the Frame Twister. That being said, it was tough to see them not be able to finish the frame twister because the spotter was hustling the whole time trying to set up the winch cable to finish the course. It’s not easy running and hurdling through a mud pit full of slipper logs. The next day, Pepe made up for his first day’s bad luck and ended up blowing through the Obstacle Course like it was a walk in the park. At the HIll Climb the mighty Taco ended up loosing forward momentum on it’s way up and slid backwards rolling a few times down the hill. The Coal Chute was a whole different story as Pepe and his spotter developed a perfect strategy to get through the rock and cement tube obstacles. Although they didn’t finish the Coal Chute, they did earn a second place finish almost winching the Tacoma up the near vertical slippery waterfall at the end. The versatility of Pepe’s Mighty Green Tacoma didn’t go unnoticed as he walked away with the coveted Editor and Judges Choice Award as the truck they’d most like to go home with, and we couldn’t agree with them more.
Truck: 1999 Toyota Tacoma
Engine: 2.4-liter inline-4 cylinder with high mounted snorkel air cleaner.
Drivetrain: W59 5-speed manual, Dual toyota T-cases with Marlin Crawler adapter and 4.7 gears, Dana 60 front differential with locker, Dana 70 rear differential with locker, 5.38 gears
Suspension: 3-link front suspension with full hydraulic ram steering, 2.5-inch KING coilovers in front, Atlas rear springs with Bilstein 5100 shocks
Wheels & Tires: 16.5-inch Allied Beadlock wheels wrapped in custom grooved 15x44R16.5 Super Swamper TSL’s