Author Topic: BigMike's Big Journey: A 2016 Tacoma Build Thread  (Read 123431 times)

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BigMike's Big Journey: A 2016 Tacoma Build Thread
« on: Apr 18, 2016, 05:18:09 PM »
BigMike's 2016 V6 6MT AC TRD Sport Tacoma
The truck that took 8 dealerships 261 days to get!
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Trip Report Thread: BigMike's 2016 Tacoma Trip & Trail Log

Welcome to the Build Thread to my 2016 3rd gen Tacoma. Here is the latest on what this thread has to offer!

YouTube - Downhill with NO driver in a 2016 Toyota Tacoma


High Sierra trail sign progress:

Page 1

Reply 13
: Bought my first Tacoma!

Reply 16
: Mega Post about my
difficulty in getting this truck

Page 2

Reply 31
: Video:
Received my keys!

Reply 45
: First Mod:
Installed Turtle Stickers!

Reply 46
: Drove through
Marlin, Texas

Reply 47
: Engaged 4LO
for the first time

Reply 52
: First Impressions

Reply 52
: Curiosities Part I

Page 3

Reply 69
: Drove to the Factory
in San Antonio, Texas.

Reply 69
: Curiosities Part II

Page 4

Reply 93
: Curiosities Part III

Reply 95
: Parked next to
another Tacoma for the first time

Reply 103
: Thousand miles of
splattered bugs

Reply 112
: First shopping
cart hit the truck

Reply 114
: First time
to the Colorado River

Page 5

Reply 120
: First time
to Zion National Park

Reply 131
: Curiosities Part IV

Reply 134
: Made it home after
precisely a 2,500 mile journey

Reply 143
: At Marlin Crawler HQ!

Reply 143
: Already rusting!!!

Page 6

Reply 150
: Tacoma met my
fully-built Hilux Rock Crawler

Reply 160
: Weighed Tacoma

Reply 170
: Installed Rock Sliders

Page 7

Reply 204
: Changed to SR Grill

Reply 206
: Attended first event!
Bakersfield Land Cruiser Rally

Reply 208
: Installed Toyota
Floor mats & sill protectors

Reply 209
: Attended 2nd event!
TLCA's Cruise Moab, Moab, UT

Page 8

Reply 211
: Did my first "trail"
(was basically a fire-road)

Reply 216
: Vendor Show #2

Reply 229
: Did my first real trail:
Bald Mountain

Reply 238
: Short Bald Mtn
Compilation Video

Page 9

Reply 254
: Why this thread went
dormant second half 2016

Reply 261
: "Stage I" begins!
New 33" tires

Reply 268
: Nitro Gear 4.88:1

Reply 269
and 3" leaf springs

Page 10

Reply 275
: Got rid of
the fake Hood Scoop

Reply 276
: Towed the
Crawler Truck!!

Reply 227
: Removed stock
Transfer Case

Reply 296
: Installed MC
Front T/C Adapter

Reply 289
: Prepared T/C
for our TacoBox!!

Page 11

Reply 300
: TacoBox Dual Case
Crawler Explained

Reply 301
: History is made:
Dual Case Installed!!

Reply 306
: Temporary
Shifter Installed

Reply 313
: ARB Air Lockers
finally installed

Reply 315
: Turtle
Hood Sticker

Reply 316
: More stickers

Reply 317
: Second Moab Trip!

Page 12

Reply 336
: Trail Run #3
Fins & Things, Moab, UT

Reply 342
: My first low
oil pressure lamp!

Reply 343
: Vendor Show #3

Reply 344
: Trail Run #4
Flat Iron Mesa, Moab, UT

Reply 353
: Bed comes off!

Page 13

Reply 363
: Figuring out
where to cut

Reply 365
: Plastic tub cut
and glued back together

Reply 370
: Bed sides cut
and welded up

Reply 376
: Bed sides repainted

Page 14

Reply 400
: First Bob'd 3rd gen!
Six inches removed

Reply 405
: New Crawl Ratio

Reply 411
: Trail Run #5:
Moonlight Madness / Bald Mtn

Reply 414
: Video:
Walking my own Crawler

Page 15

Reply 433
: First oil-logged

Reply 440
Real Men Use Three Pedals

Reply 442
: First night wheel'n

Reply 443
: Video: Marlin Crawler
Alternative to "Flooring It"

Page 16

Reply 450
: Hauled half a ton
of stone

Reply 451
: Stage II has begun!
New Beadlocks!

Reply 453
: "40s"

Reply 477
: Mounted
Air Compressor

Reply 479
: Installed ARB
Air Locker Switches

Page 17

Reply 483
: Long Travel
Suspension v1

Reply 489
: 40" Tires installed
but needs a lot of work...

Page 18

Reply 523
: Switched to 37"

Reply 526
: Temporary fender
& bumper trimming

Reply 531
: First 3rd gen to
attempt the Rubicon Trail?

Page 19

Reply 551
: Tacoma conquors
the Rubicon!!

Reply 551
: Video Crawling
down the Rubicon Slabs

Reply 555
: 11th annual
FJ Summit

Reply 557
: Testing products
at Bald Mountain

Reply 561
: New, larger
Crawl Ratio sticker

Reply 563
: BigMike's 1st Annual
TacoBox Run Introduced &

Reply 565
: 300M RCV Axles
finally installed!

Reply 569
: Front Facing Rock
Crawling Camera installed

Page 20

Reply 570
: Tacoma's second
Rubicon trip begins!


« Last Edit: Sep 04, 2018, 05:20:03 PM by BigMike »


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Re: BigMike's Big Journey
« Reply #1 on: Apr 18, 2016, 05:31:58 PM »
Welcome to Seattle?
If you see it, its for sale.


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BigMike's Big Journey
« Reply #2 on: Apr 18, 2016, 06:09:14 PM »

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk


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Re: BigMike's Big Journey
« Reply #3 on: Apr 18, 2016, 07:11:12 PM »
What brings you to our neck of the woods? Or is it just a stop over?


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Re: BigMike's Big Journey
« Reply #4 on: Apr 18, 2016, 07:38:38 PM »
Going to visit ARB?
1993 Standard cab chassis. 1989 Extended Cab. 22R-E BO .020, ENGNBLDR 261c cam, Doug Thorley Tri-Y header, Straight Pipe through a Flowmaster 40, ARB Rear Locker, York OBA with fabricated bracket.
Projects waiting in my shop: '83 Front Axle, TG Sliders, second tcase, NEW: XD 4.70 gears!

BigMike [OP]

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Re: BigMike's Big Journey
« Reply #5 on: Apr 18, 2016, 08:26:44 PM »
Hello Seattle, goodbye Seattle!



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Re: BigMike's Big Journey
« Reply #6 on: Apr 18, 2016, 08:43:15 PM »
Does this mean Marlin Crawler isn't opening a shop in Seattle  :dunno: :rivers:
80 shortbed-22re,w56,Marlin 23 spline dual cases,HighAngle drivelines,RUF/63"chevy's,35''mtr's,85 front axle,30 spline Longfields, Allpro highsteer.87 rear axle,5.29 gears,rear spool,BudBuilt cm, marlin HD clutch,ramsey 8000 winch. 
     Also 84 toy DD 22R 4.88s,33'' toyo mt'z, marlin clutch,4inch lift/63's, HA drivelines.


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Re: BigMike's Big Journey
« Reply #7 on: Apr 18, 2016, 09:15:12 PM »
Well, you did pick a nice day to visit.  :shades:
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Originally posted by fortysixandtwo – sheesh, you should see the transvestites i sell ammo to sometimes

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Re: BigMike's Big Journey
« Reply #8 on: Apr 18, 2016, 10:15:27 PM »
Only 1,613 more miles to a new chapter!!!


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Re: BigMike's Big Journey
« Reply #9 on: Apr 18, 2016, 10:51:52 PM »
You seem to be going around your ass to get where ever it is you are going.
If you see it, its for sale.


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Re: BigMike's Big Journey
« Reply #10 on: Apr 18, 2016, 11:20:51 PM »
Yeah! What gives? you came all the way up here just to turn around and go the other way? :headscratch:
That has got to be the most round about way to get to Texas.
« Last Edit: Apr 18, 2016, 11:29:49 PM by helipilot77 »
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-1984 SR5 Tercel 4wd wagon bone stock - given to my nephew
-1:10 scale RC 4wd crawler w/yota axles, R2 2 speed enclosed dig tranny and 1st gen 4Runner body by BigBird
-My build thread
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Re: BigMike's Big Journey
« Reply #11 on: Apr 19, 2016, 04:46:32 AM »
I thought he was going to los Angeles :cheese:
even the most primitive society has an intimate respect for the insane

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BigMike's Big Journey
« Reply #12 on: Apr 19, 2016, 04:59:09 AM »
Finally made it to Dallas... Local time is 7:00am.

The wait.....

The frustration....

The patience....




I don't have much time at the moment, but this is the best breakfast I've had since January 2015:

« Last Edit: Apr 19, 2016, 05:32:44 AM by BigMike »

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Re: BigMike's Big Journey
« Reply #13 on: Apr 19, 2016, 07:41:59 AM »
With great relief and excitement I am pleased to fffffiiiiinnnnaaaalllllllllllllllyyyyyyyy announce the new addition to the Crawler family: BigMike's New 2016 TRD SPORT ACCESS CAB 4X4 V6 M/T LB TACOMA!!!
I'll reply back once all the dotted lines are signed!!


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Re: BigMike's Big Journey
« Reply #14 on: Apr 19, 2016, 08:56:50 AM »
Nice!  :thumbs:   
Miss ya Dean (4THEWKN) & Kyle (KYOTA)!!

4THEWKN~9/17/2006  If it wasn't for you, I'd be driving something other than a Toyota!

My build up ~ project Kilchis!
Zak's truck build ~;topicseen


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Re: BigMike's Big Journey
« Reply #15 on: Apr 19, 2016, 09:58:46 AM »
With great relief and excitement I am pleased to fffffiiiiinnnnaaaalllllllllllllllyyyyyyyy announce the new addition to the Crawler family: BigMike's New 2016 TRD SPORT ACCESS CAB 4X4 V6 M/T LB TACOMA!!!
I'll reply back once all the dotted lines are signed!!

Had to go to Texas to get one?  :headscratch:

BigMike [OP]

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Re: BigMike's Big Journey
« Reply #16 on: Apr 19, 2016, 10:48:36 AM »
Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh man ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh man!

This thread cannot go any further without my experience during the 261 DAYS IT TOOK TO GET THIS TRUCK. I hope you're ready for a novel because I've been slowly writing this over the past 8 months so here goes!

For many years I've wanted to build a Tacoma. I'm not the biggest fan of the 2nd gen. It's fender lines remind me too much of the Chevy Avalanche. Not the biggest fan of the 4.0-liter engine. I do like the older 3.4, but I'm a 4cyl guy. Building a 1st gen would be cool, Lord knows how much I love the 3RZ-FE (see my Official 3RZ Knowledge and Database Thread), but as I already wheel my 1981 Hilux with a 3RZ there wouldn't be a tremendous difference, for example, if I got a 1995 4cyl Tacoma. I guess the Tacoma just hasn't excited me enough yet.

And then January 2015 happened. I saw pictures of that new pretty Blue 3rd gen from the North American International Auto Show and knew this would be the one! Fell in love with it right away.

Spent that spring and summer working things out making preparations for the new Tacoma. In late summer the time had finally come to get this monumental ball rolling. And when I say monumental you need to understand what type of automobile person I am. My father bought his truck September 17, 1983, yes the very same famous Marlin Crawler "Crawler Truck". I believe it to be a fact that no other Toyota truck in history has been wheeled as much as this truck and he is still wheeling it today (check out it's Vintage Picture Gallery). I learned how to drive stick-shift in this truck. I bought my first car when I was 18 yrs old, a 1987 MR2, which is still my daily driver (build thread). I bought my 1981 Hilux 4th of July weekend 2004, slapped in a 3RZ-FE Tacoma heart and a 511:1 Triple Ultimate Marlin Crawler Transfer Case Setup and have been wheeling it ever since.

This is a combined history of 62 years between just three Toyotas.

Marlin's 1980 Longbed Hilux (Triple Ultimate Overkill MC T/Case System)

My 1981 Shortbed Hilux (Triple Ultimate MC T/Case System)

I still have my Hilux. It will run the harder trails while I get the Tacoma built.

In short, this Tacoma is HUGE news for anyone who knows the Crawler Family.

Welcome to the beginning of BigMike's Big Journey: A 2016 Tacoma Build Thread

August-September, 2015

August 3, 2015: With the new Tacoma release date approaching, I contacted my high-school classmate who works at a local dealership and who in 2013 had sold my wife and I our new Yaris SE. He took very good care of us if you know what I mean, so this was my first choice. I found out he had moved to the dealer's Volkswagen department so he referred me to Ernie, their top Tacoma salesperson who owns a 2nd gen Tacoma himself...

...and at this point I really wish I could say, "and the rest was history", but this turned out to be the start of an incredibly frustrating experience with Toyota.

In the months that would follow, after 47 emails, countless phone calls, text messages, Facebook messages, and three dealership visits including one with Marlin when I broke the news to him (didn't even tell him where I was taking him), Ernie is still unable to get my new Tacoma.

September 14, 2015: The very first 2016 Tacoma arrives to our dealership. Marlin and I were crawling all over, around, and under taking pictures.

I was expecting a delay: It's the #1 selling mid-size truck and a new model was just released. Ernie figured to give Toyota a few months to get production in gear. Maybe by October we'd have it, most certainly by the end of November.

But what I hadn't planned for was the insane model allocation Toyota has containing this clunky, inefficient, heavy, maintenance prone, heat generating, high pressure fluid system that can leave you stranded on the trail, expensive to repair, fuel mileage zapping and fun behind the wheel robbing AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION. GOOD LORD WHAT IS WITH ALL THE AUTOMATIC TACOMAS HOLY CRAP.

Welcome to this side of 1995. Wow what a wake-up call for me. I had no clue that 90% of new truck owners disliked driving. Where has the passion for gear jam'n gone? That moment when you smoothly downshift at the approach of a corner and slowly roll into the throttle with your heel perfecting matching your engine and clutch disc speeds. That moment when you want to accelerate by grabbing a gear and mashing the pedal for instant power instead of waiting for some computer to decide which gear and at what throttle position it thinks is right for you. Feeling an engine's power curve through your leg without the dullness of a torque converter, knowing when to shift by feel rather than guessing how much to lift for the ETC to make its eventual decision...

The window sticker of the dealer's first 2016 Tacoma

What I ordered & Why

The Tacoma I requested is a White V6 Access Cab TRD Off-Road with a Manual Transmission.

Why an Access Cab?
The 1st gen Hilux was only offered in the States as a single cab and I've always wanted an XtraCab, so much so that I own a back-half of a 2nd gen Hilux XtraCab cab that is ready and waiting for my 1st gen XtraCab conversion... that will now never take place. :gap:

Body damage
I don't like Double Cabs for the same reason I'm not building a 4Runner: It has a longer cab line that I'll have to worry about through tight rock and tree squeezes.

The bed & wheelbase
I carry recovery equipment to rescue broken rigs and clear trails with our local forest service so I need a full size truck bed. If I get a Double Cab with a full size bed then the truck will simply be too long for technical Rock Crawling. Before companies like Marlin Crawler and All Pro Off Road (RIP) invented the Crossover Steering System, not just some but all of the technical "jeep" trails from Utah to California were off limits in organized events for us long wheelbased "jap-tin-can" Hilux owners. Even some trail leaders didn't like 4Runners and shortbed pickups, despite having by today's standards a short wheelbase of 103-inches, which today can out maneuver most Jeeps thanks to the Marlin Crawler T/Case (I've stretched my '81 to a whopping 106-inches). Back in the 80s and early 90s us "silly pickup owners" would constantly be making multi-point turns to get through trails that Jeeps would go right through without backing up. Worse yet, many Toyotas on the trail didn't have power steering.

The 2016 AC LB has a 127-inch wheelbase and the DC LB a whopping 141. That is 20% and 33% longer than my Hilux, respectively. I've got no choice. I can do with the 20% longer; It'll have a Marlin Crawler transfer case setup. But 33% longer is just too much.

Other thoughts on a Double Cab
- I'll have to either build twice as many tube doors, twice as many sets of quick disconnect door hinges, or unbolt 8 hinges total just to run trails doorless. (It'd probably look dumb with only the front two doors removed.)
- It'll be heavier which is no good for both Rock Crawling or highway fuel mileage (My Hilux has never been on a trailer since I've owned it and I drive to every trail including the 1,800 mile trip for Moab, UT).
- Twice as many doors for someone to break into the truck.

I'll definitely run the new Tacoma doorless from time to time. Entering the Little Sluice, TLCA's 26th annual Rubithon event, Rubicon Trail, June 21, 2014

With all the hating on "long this" and "heavy that" I suppose I could have gotten another single cab... except for the fact that Toyota is no longer offering a single cab Tacoma!

Why White?
You're probably thinking why not Marlin Crawler Red? Well, that color is the iconic Crawler Truck color. If anyone should get a red Tacoma it should be Marlin. White allows a wide range of compatible artwork for marketing. It is also my favorite automobile color.

Why the V6?
When I get back home I'm expecting this to be one of the first questions from my close friends. Raised by the man himself, I am a less is more, keep it reliable, easier to work on, lower maintenance, lightweight, fuel efficient, less heat generated, more room for onboard air & welder, suspension parts last longer, better for Rock Crawling, four cylinder Marlin-type guy. I've actually never owned anything other than a 4cyl.

So why now? The Tacoma will certainly be heavier than my Hilux. I wouldn't be surprised if it's already heavier in stock form. Due to its size it might end up on 39s. Don't get too excited yet as I plan to keep it IFS for at least the first year. A 6cly makes more sense for the Tacoma's size & weight.

And then there is the new 6cyl. I love the new 6cyl. I know, you're probably in shock, but what I find so cool and what everyone seems to dislike is that the new 3.5-liter 2GR-FKS is higher revving with a higher RPM power band than the outgoing 4.0-liter. I'm assuming it's more compact & lightweight, certainly more efficient: The new 3.5L makes 35% more HP and 14% more TQ per liter than the 4.0. These are the fun characteristics that I love about 4cyls. I'm excited for this new V6.

Why TRD Off-Road?
Two words: Electric Locker. I run them in my Hilux (FJ80 high pinion front, Tacoma rear) and love them to death. This is the only package an e-locker is offered (rear). We rebuild Toyota Electric Lockers, sell E-Locker Motor Armor, and I have a lot of experience custom wiring them for older rigs.

Why the Manual Transmission?
Naturally there is no other choice for me.

And then the following happens...

The Big Issue

We discover that this truck is NOT POSSIBLE. Apparently Toyota only offers the 6cyl TRD Pro E-Locker-equipped Access Cab with an Automatic transmission!! Why oh why Toyota?! Why must you be so cruel?!

To make matters worse, this information wouldn't be discovered by our dealer until sometime in early October, the month I was hopeful I'd get the truck! According to our dealer they were still receiving info on what model and option combinations were going to be offered and come to find out Toyota will not offer a 6cyl manual TRD Off-Road Access Cab.

So what are my options now?
- 6cyl Access Cab SR w/manual trans: Not offered
- 6cyl Access Cab SR5 w/manual trans: Not offered
- 6cyl Access Cab Limited w/manual trans: Not offered

As it turns out the "TRD Sport" is the ONLY model that is available in this configuration. I am not a fan of the fake hood scoop, nor the chrome grill. I do like the color keyed fenders. I'll come up with lockers on my own. Okay I'll take it.

October, 2015: The Order Is Changed
With no other option we change the order to a White V6 Access Cab TRD Sport with Manual Transmission.

So we move on, and time goes on. I'd really like someday to get this truck. The problem is that Toyota simply doesn't want to make this configuration. Not even if we put in a custom build order because according to Ernie Toyota will only accept custom build orders once they get caught up with production/inventory of the new model. I can understand this. Apparently I am part of the minority of truck consumers in this country. I understand how supply and demand works.

October comes and goes.
- I miss the unveiling for the Pamona Off Road Expo (this would have been HUGE!)
- I miss the unveiling for the TLCA Southern Cruiser Crawl

This silver 2WD shows up to our dealer October 13, 2015. Another Double Cab. Another Automatic.

November comes and goes.
- I miss the unveiling for TLCA Turf-n-Surf
- I miss the unveiling for CAL4WD Panamint Valley Days (** we thought we'd have it no later than this event **)

December comes and goes.
- I miss the unveiling for the CVC Toy Drive
- I miss the unveiling at four different 4WD Club Christmas parties
- I miss the unveiling for two different New Year Snow Runs

Ernie tells me their first TRD Off Road has shown up. I drive over after work to check it out. Another Double Cab. Another Automatic.

January, 2016

It's a new year and now one full year since Toyota announced the new truck. I tell Ernie, listen, I appreciate all your time and all the hunting for this truck, but it's been on the market for four months and we're falling behind waiting around for it.

Anxiety just building and building as I'm missing wheeling events and I'm seeing build threads, FAQ threads, picture threads, trip report threads, cheap trick threads, "White Tacoma check-in" threads, "Let's see your Access Cab", "What did you do to your Tacoma today", "Who's playing the waiting game"... I have been lurking on multiple Tacoma forums like a madman. Countless times I wanted to chime in and reply but I don't.

And then I get aggressive:

January 4, 2016 I submit an order with Hanford Toyota
January 4, 2016 I submit an order with Selma Toyota
January 5, 2016 I submit an order with Merced Toyota
January 5, 2016 I submit an order with Irvine Toyota
January 8, 2016 I submit an order with Roseville Toyota
January 11, 2016 I submit an order with Manhattan Beach Toyota

Do you want to know what each and every dealership sales person gets back to me with? "Sorry we cannot get that model but we do have a White Double Cab Automatic which is even better & we can sell it to you today!"

I kid you not. Not a single dealer wanted my order. In the words of Sheriff Buford T. Justice, "What in the hell is the world coming to?" At least Ernie understood why I was after this specific model.

It's just crazy to me. It is listed on Toyota's website. It is listed in Toyota sales brochures. I see & hear Tacoma commercials one after the other (all featuring Double Cabs of course). I'm seeing more and more 3rd gens running around town. Arrrggg.

On one hand how fortunate I am that I can afford a new truck. My whole life I've wheeled Toyota's from the 80s so I do not take this for granted. But on the other hand it is available yet I cannot get it. Worst of all, this is one step for me but is one giant step for Marlin Crawler, who, despite being the inventor of the Tacoma Dual Case System in the summer of 2001 with many Dual Case'd Marlin Crawler Tacomas on the trail, is perceived as living in the past with the Hilux.

This perception of Marlin Crawler is going to change real quick once I get this truck.

The World's first Dual Case Tacoma is unveiled at the first Marlin Crawler Round Up, August 18, 2001
« Last Edit: Jul 06, 2018, 11:19:58 AM by BigMike »

BigMike [OP]

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Re: BigMike's Big Journey
« Reply #17 on: Apr 19, 2016, 10:49:02 AM »
Mid-January, 2016

It was finally Mrs. Crawler, my mother, who suggested I contact our friend and customer Chris King of Toyota Of Dallas to see what he can do. Brilliant idea. I give Chris a call and he knew exactly who I was and why I was after this specific build. "No problem let me transfer you to Mr. Hardy Tadlock, who is our inventory manager of 23-years, and who works closely with the manufacturing plant right here in Texas." Chris assured me if anyone can get this truck it will be Hardy.

After bringing Hardy up to speed he knew straight-up we would not find this truck anywhere in the USA. He did a search as other dealers had done before, but Hardy's response was a breath of fresh air: "If you place a custom order for this truck by next Wednesday, we can have it here in 4 to 5 months."

Five months since August and eight dealerships later, this was the first time anyone had offered this. No dancing around offering a different Tacoma. Done. Do it. Go. Get it ordered. Do your thing. Do whatever it is you have to do in order to get this truck in 4 to 5 months.

F-I-N-A-L-L-Y. This was the first glimpse of progress since October. I thought, wow, another half-year just to get one Tacoma. A possible combined timeline of 10 months since placing the first order.

January and most of February comes and goes.
- I miss the unveiling for the CVC Bald Mtn Snow Run
- I miss the unveiling for the King Of The Hammers (as with all these events we were there but the Tacoma was not. KOH was a huge missed opportunity!)

The Crawler Truck at our KOH Booth, Hammer Town USA. It would have been AMAZING to have had my new Tacoma parked next to the Crawler Truck for this event.

The new Tacoma would be trail worthy by now had I gotten it in November.

February 25, 2016

So I'm working away in my office trying not to get distracted with Tacoma threads on different forums when Hardy calls me. "Mike, got some good news! We have a date and it's earlier than expected." I'm about to fall off my chair. "The delivery date to my VPC in Houston is April the 10th." I fall off my chair.

Unbelievably great news and such an enormous relief beginning to set. Hardy goes on to explain how this is only an estimation and it takes X number of days to get to Dallas and then X number of days to process yadda yadda yadda come get it April 20.

March 16, 2016

On March 16 Hardy informs me that the date has been moved up again to now March 31! From five months now down to just two! Forget the pinch, I need someone to punch me in the face to make sure this is happening! But a week later we find out that the factory has switched back to April 10. Clearly, Toyota is just mess'n with me now. ::)

March 18: I discover there IS a MANUAL Transmission 6cyl TRD OFF-ROAD E-Locker Tacoma... available in... CANADA. UNBELIEVABLE. TOYOTA. What the hell man? Of course I'm committed to this TRD Sport. Not interested in waiting another 6 months. Then what, destroy our relationship with Dallas, deal with customs, import taxes, compliance with CA emissions, don't even know if this is possible... Probably not an option. It is just incredibly annoying that I know the truck is built in the same factory who has explicitly told us it "cannot be built".

The Toyota Factory Tour

Meanwhile Chris lets me know that while I'm coming to Texas why don't I also tour the factory in San Antonio where my Tacoma is to be built? I said heck yes I must do this! Now the wait is almost starting to feel good. How cool is this?! But in an unfortunate turn of events, we find out that Factory Tours are scheduled for maintenance closures in April, resulting in tight scheduling, and the only available slots are early in the month before my arrival. Bummer. Had that worked out I would have flown Marlin with me.

So it didn't happen... Thank you Chris for the offer and your time with scheduling. It would have been awesome.

On November 25, 2012, I took Marlin to the Motomachi Plant in Toyota City, Japan. It would have been especially neat to see how the Texas plant compares with Toyota's own back in Japan. Here are a few pics from that trip. Marlin and me in the back of a JDM 70-series (a manual transmission solid front e-locker axle Turbocharged Toyota Diesel Double Cab pickup that makes an utter fool out of the Tacoma). The front of the Motomachi Plant & TO-YO-TA Katakana logos on many buildings. Toyota City, Japan

Four March and April events roll by...
- I miss the unveiling for the CAL4WD Kingsburg Snow Poker Run
- I miss the unveiling for the Rubicon Trail Foundation's Black Tie And Boots
- I miss the unveiling for the CVC Calico Ghost Town Run
- I miss the unveiling for the Lock'N'Low Annual Truck Safety Inspection

Marlin and Christine were both highly honored at the Black Tie and Boots with the "Rock Award", the most prestigious Rubicon-related award possible, joining a group of only eight members!

This September our annual Round Up event will eclipse the $100,000 mark in donations to the Rubicon Trail. If I can get my hands on this unobtainium Tacoma, then I will have it on display at the springs campground.

The last few weeks...

April 20 just cannot come any sooner and the weeks have just been a blur. In fact I'm typing this exact sentence on Thursday March 31st at 1:12 am in the morning and the cool thing is that I've been able to keep this on the low-down, hardly a soul knows, not even my own employees. No one in our industry nor any of our competitors know. It's gotta be one of the longest kept secrets I've ever had.

This past year we've had Tacomas in and out of our shop a dozen times and I've had both employees and customers say, "Hey it would be neat if you got a new Tacoma, Mike." Yes. Thank you. I am aware of this. Just kick me. Right in the ball sack. Please. If only they knew :lipsrsealed:

I hope those workers are taking extra special care over there in Texas because this truck is gonna see some awesome Rock Crawling for many years to come!

April 6: Dealer emails me paperwork to sign! Wooohoooo!

April 9: Dealer checks in with me, confirms everything is look'n good!

April 12: WE RECEIVE MY VIN! It's finally official!! This is really happening!

April 13: I sent the VIN to Ernie who pulls all the data from his system locally. The build and specs are 100% perfect! Truck's official birthday is April 8 and it left the Vehicle Processing Center yesterday the 12th. It is scheduled to arrive at the Dallas dealer no later than this Friday the 15th.

April 16: Dealer reports they have the truck and it's ready for pick-up!!! I said "Send pics or GTFO" and these came to my phone:

April 19, 2016

So the day has FINALLY COME!

Hardy told me to come get the truck on the 20th. Well I've waited 8 months so screw that I'm coming a day early just in case it's ready! Gamble payed off. My original flight plan was a one-way direct-flight from California with a 5pm landing in Dallas. The dealer is open until 9pm so that is plenty of time to pick up the truck, fingers crossed, a day early...

...then my lovely wife who's traveling with me had a great idea to take a red-eye night flight: If we're already gambling on an early April 19 pick-up date, then why not save some $ on a midnight flight while also showing up the moment the dealer opens? Great idea babe, I love where your head is at.

So from Fresno CA to Seattle WA to Portland OR and to Dallas TX,
flying by night arriving 3 hrs before the dealer opens 261 days after ordering this truck,

Time to hit the open road and give a full trip-report back to California! Subscribe and stay tuned!



  • Offline Rock Crawl'n
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Congrats Mike! Looking forward to this build thread  :thumbs: :clap:

I experienced the same thing when I bought my F150. The only reason I wanted to go to the smaller Tacoma is for the manual. Went to the dealership and they told me it was not available in the build configuration I wanted with a manual. Oh well, bought an F150 and love it (even though it's only available auto). A couple months later my buddy in the Bay Area got the exact Tacoma I wanted WITH A MANUAL. He said he had to special order it but his dealership did it no problem. I don't know if the sales guys just don't know it's an option to special order stuff, if they think it's not worth their time or if they're trained to just try to sell stuff on the lot but either way, Toyota lost at least one sale (mine) because of it. I doubt most people would be as patient and thorough when trying to buy theirs as you were. Oh well, the F150 tows the 85 Yota just fine so it all works out in the end.
Hellwig Products Director of Engineering
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Congrats! Weird stuff with the ordering. My '08 was a V6 Access cab, manual, with locker, and offroad package. Loved that truck!
You'll never take me alive


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Congratulations on the purchase mike! This is going to change the game for marlin crawler for sure. Good luck on the trip home. I hope you guys have a good time and safe travels.  :turtle:
80 short bed, longs, hi steer, 4.7 case twin stick, 4.11, 38 tsl, mild built 22r
83 long bed, sas, hi steer, 3rz, w56, 4.56 33s
95 4runner project
06 4 door tacoma street truck


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wow! What an ordeal! I'm glad you finally got it and look forward to watching the build :)


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But wait... How is that the best breakfast you have had since January of 2015?!?

GNasty 82

  • Offline Rock Master
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I''m sure you know this, but you are not alone in preference for manual transmission and your disparity with the US auto industry forcing automatics down our throats.  Congratulations on finding your unicorn!   
:bowdown: :clap: :respect:
82 Toyota SR5 Pickup
  Marlin Dual Ultimate
  Front 5.29 LC HP Elocker
  Rear 5.29 Grizzly Locker
  BFG 37" KM2s
  Custom rear frame and flatbed
  Propane Powered.

Build Thread:

"The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first."-Thomas Jefferson


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Thanks for holding out for a manual trans!  Congrats on the new truck.  You having one of these will truly change the scene for Tacoma builds going forward.
“I would rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on earth.”
– Steve McQueen

"Except for maybe Seattle."  -H8PVMNT

"I plan to hit 300k in this truck"  :)bestgen4runner


  • Offline Rock Crawl'n
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 :beer: :popcorn:  :turtle3:

I can't wait to see how this thing turns out!
1985 Hilux
1987 AW11


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Looks Great Mike, Have a great trip
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But wait... How is that the best breakfast you have had since January of 2015?!?

Because it was the breakfast the day he got the truck...
1989 4Runner: Dual Ultimate (Inchworm front & Marlin 4.70 rear), Marlin Twin Stick, 1200-lb clutch, 4.88 R&P, Aussie Front, Detroit rear, 30-spline Longs, Long hub gears, ARP hub and knuckle studs & 35x12.50 Cooper STT PRO tires.  Marlin rear bumper & sliders.  FROR front bumper.  SAS with Alcan springs & Rancho 9000XL shocks.  Budbuilt Bolt-on traction bar.  Custom Interior Cage by Those Guys Rod and Customs.

Moab Tested & Rubicon Approved

John Doe

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I look forward to seeing what projects you come up with!

I will admit I have done no research, but what is the differences between the 2nd gen and 3rd gen Tacoma's beside styling of the body and grill?
My 85 4Runner build

peacesells: "Its kinda fun tryin to avoid body damage, just like playing operation with different sound effects"


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Very cool and happy for you Mike. Your determination and patience finally paid off :thumbs: I know its a totally different platform but in 03' when I was selling Toyota's I bought an 01' TRD access cab v6 w/ yes a MANUAL trans. at that point IFS was my only option aswell. I ended up with a mix and match 9" all suspension and 37's with the majority of the time on the factory gears. But with that truck and now your new 16' it's amazing what you can do with that fancy little button on the left of the steering wheel. I think it said E-locker or something like that :rofl: But really great Truck and congrats


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