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Old 02-18-2021, 05:02 PM #1
aemravan aemravan is offline
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aemravan's build thread - project TacoRunner

After posting my progress pictures across various threads for months, I decided that my build is finally at a stage where I should concentrate (at least some of the highlights) into a single thread. Not sure when i'll have time to fully structure the post with all the pictures I want, but i'll do my best as time allows over the next few weeks (as my car is hopefully into the completion stages).

Here it goes..

The start:
June 2020 I decided to settle the '15 buick and '10 lincoln that I had (both Copart rebuilds) and my wife and I decided an SUV was a logical choice. After seeing what people were wanting for the 4th gen 4runners I quickly turned to copart once again and found a 2003 V8 4wd limited 132k mile salvage car out of Florida.

Late June it was sitting in my driveway and getting torn into to see the extent of the damage. The damage ended up being a bit more serious than anticipated. The impact bent the front right body mount approximately 2 inches back and crumpled the apron pretty good. Instead of doing a driveway fix like I usually would, i ended up enlisting the help of my brother who does this for a living. In order to keep the replacement costs low, he pulled the apron straight and repaired into a useable condition (the replacement was over 600 bucks and nobody had one available at the time).



We also welded in a new radiator support and body mount onto the rail. Luckily I was able to find a 2005 car in a junkyard a couple of miles away that had the hood with the scoop, in the color I needed, along with the bumper, fender and passenger door. This allowed me to have factory parts with no need to paint.

While the front end was all apart, I decided to tackle the timing belt/water pump replacement and made pretty quick work of it.



Before the car was even complete, I already had a prinsu rack on order, trd wheels and 33" tires on the way. The roof rack was the first mod to go on ahead of everything else, followed quickly by the wheels/tires.

Soon after, I acquired all the recovery gear I could possibly want, along with a Smittybuilt RTT.



In August the car was pretty much road worthy and getting put to good use, and the first "performance mods" were the air filter, and larger sport rotors/calipers up front. At the same time I installed the Bilstein 5100 shocks/OME spring lift kit.





My next round of modification included doing an HID projector kit in the headlights, modifying the grill and trimming the bumpers for extra clearance.

After just 1 camping trip, I installed the Victory 4x4 blitz bumper and winch and then took it on the first ever off road Uwharrie trip which was a blast.




By September, my still VERY new wheels/tires were for sale and I had 35's going on the car. This made it necessary to do more trimming on the body, body mount, etc. but I got them to work pretty good along with the JBA UCA which got my alignment into great spec.

In October, I thought I was pretty much done with the car and was super happy with how it was looking and driving. Then I bought and sold the victory 4x4 ladder.. Then we went to Uwharrie again and i determined I was overdue for some sliders, so those were on order. And then I decided that I didn't want to spend 1400 to carry a tire on a swing out and designed up my own. That took me through the end of the year with the projects that I had going on.




One day, while once again browsing East Carolina Gear Supply... I added my stuff to the cart and just hit submit... fully regeared front and rear diffs with Arb lockers were on the way... terrible financial decision, but boy was I excited. Oh, and did I mention that I did the same with the RCV front CV axles..?

The car was "finished" with the swing out carrier, exterior molle panels that I also designed, and sitting just right on January 17th. Along with the expensive parts on the way I figured I was done. And then... I couldn't sleep one night so I was browsing Instagram. And low and behold I came across a post that baffled me.. I thought I was looking at a Tacoma, but it was an SUV, and the rear looked like a 4th gen... the Tacoma front end swap was discovered, and I just couldn't un-see it... I talked myself out of it since I already made some bad financial decisions... but then I priced it out, and long story short it looked reasonable if I could JUST SELL MY CURRENT PARTS. An even longer story even shorter, there is a local member that is literally buying every single piece that is coming off, including the rear swing out, my roof rack and entire front end.




Current status:
-Coastal Offroad front and rear bumpers are on the truck for delivery now.
-ECGS Front and rear diffs and RCV axles are going on tomorrow/saturday. the arb pump is already wired and installed.
-Tacoma parts, with the exception of the McNeil fiberglass fenders are here as of today, and headlights area already rewired to work with my plugs.
-my own design roof rack is being quoted for production as we speak

The plan:
-this weekend I plan on installing the RCV axles, front and rear diffs and running the locker connections.
-Over the next week I plan to do the slow 500 mile break in.
-The following weekend I want to start welding the front bumper
-As soon as the fenders ship (hopefully first week of March) everything is coming off the car and I will start with fitting the hood, then fenders, then headlights/grill.
-Once this is done and I paint everything and hopefully put it all together I will turn my attention to the rear bumper with my own swing out design.
-After this, I plan on not touching anything (with the exception of the FJ Transfer case once mine stops working) on the car for a long, long time (unless of course it is tire-change time and I upgrade to 37's from the 35's I'm on now....I am damn terrible.)


Anyhow, for those that made it through this heap of a long-winded, picture less (at this point at least) post, thank you for reading and I promise once the pictures start coming it will be much better !

Last edited by aemravan; 02-18-2021 at 05:21 PM.
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Old 02-18-2021, 05:23 PM #2
aemravan aemravan is offline
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Here are some of the parts in the process of going on..

rcv axles.. if you know, you know. Not cheap, and I'll probably blow a driveshaft out (best case) of grenade the differential (probably not) but at $2000 and lifetime no questions asked warranty its something I prefer over swapping in $100 replacement CV's on the trail... with that said, I have a freshly rebooted OEM toyota alxes that will be going for sale. PM me if interested.



Tacoma aftermarket lights with LED running light strip. I already messed with the wiring and it will be straight forward. The turn signal and running light plugs are literally the same and work like they need to. The Hi/Lo beam in the Tacoma light will just need to get spliced into both the hi and low beam connector on the factory harness and works perfect.


ARB pump with dual solenoids hard-mounted in the engine bay behind the airbox.


Front clamshell assembly from ECGS with 4.56 gears and ARB locker ready to drop in.


Complete rear 3rd member from ECGS with 4.56 gears and ARB locker as well. These guys are awesome, I got these amazingly quick.


The prinsu rack was amazing, but I wanted a couple small changes to it, and also have the access to the software and ability to use it (solidworks) to have designed my own rack and exterior molle panels. Hoping to have this in early march as well. I'm not running a business in making parts to sell, I just love making my own stuff when possible. With that said, if anyone is actually interested in rack like this shoot me a PM for details.

Last edited by aemravan; 02-18-2021 at 05:31 PM.
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Old 02-18-2021, 06:36 PM #3
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Didn't realize you started with a salvage. Wow, way to go!
That 4R's lucky to have you to keep it on the road - and now off.


Question for ya, A:

With front and rear bumpers on the truck, will you be sellin' the Victory Blitz? If so, and you'd be willing to box and ship, I'd be interested!
I've tried messaging Victory recently for their lead time on 'em and haven't received a response. Will need to be ordering soon, as Crikeymike likewise has most of my Dobinsons order on a truck headin' this way.
...

Oops! Never mind... Just re-read the last sentence about sellin' the front end. Damn!
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Old 02-18-2021, 06:43 PM #4
aemravan aemravan is offline
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Originally Posted by Wild Thing View Post
Didn't realize you started with a salvage. Wow, way to go!
That 4R's lucky to have you to keep it on the road - and now off.


Question for ya, A:

With front and rear bumpers on the truck, will you be sellin' the Victory Blitz? If so, and you'd be willing to box and ship, I'd be interested!
I've tried messaging Victory recently for their lead time on 'em and
haven't received a response. Will need to be ordering soon, as Crikeymike likewise has most of my Dobinsons order on a truck headin' this way.

Oops! Never mind... Just re-read the last sentence about sellin' the front end. Damn! ;))
Thanks man. I love bringing cars back from the dead. For one, I love working on the stuff, and also, I'm super cheap so I love deals

Regarding the bumper, its actually already sold as a part of the entire kit. Was lucky enough to have a guy buy everything I was selling as a package, and then some lol

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Old 02-18-2021, 06:53 PM #5
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Here are a few pics of the design/fabrication projects as well. Its been a fun experience learning how to weld. Cutting holes in 1/4 and 1/2" steel...not so much...

After designing my own iteration of an ultraswing, i took on a first for me fabrication process... everything you see was done with a drill, grinder, belt sander and welder. It was difficult without all the proper tools, but I made my way through it. Still cleaning the garage from it though..



Here is all the material that was brought home in the 4runner as well. The rest of the pieces are to an offroad trailer I am almost done designing to build.

The raw material cut into somewhat of a shape looked a bit unpromising..



but the end result came out great



Everything came out just about as close to design as one could expect working in a garage.


Shortly after painting the thing... i cut it all up and upgraded the pivot to a heim joint style, similar to what coatal offraod uses in their bumper swing outs for a beefier design that is also adjustable.



Front yard paint job not a pro, but did pick up some tips and tricks from my brother over the last few cars I have brought back from the dead, the 4runner had fading trim all around and we had to repair a dent on the back door that the copart forklift driver was gracious enough to leave while loading the car.












I welded the 4x innovation sliders together and tacked them to the frame, but let my brother do the more serious welding to the frame due to limited access and not a lot of experience on my side.


This is my WPL C24 model wit the Land Cruiser (C54) body that I just stumbled across online.. figured it was fitting to my new hobby. Spent a total of probably close to 60 hours building the damn thing, but gotta admit, its pretty damn sweet and realistic.



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Last edited by aemravan; 02-18-2021 at 07:04 PM.
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Old 02-18-2021, 07:11 PM #6
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Here are a few pics of the initial rebuild:

to give you an idea of how bar back the fender apron was crushed back vs where it ended up after the repair.


timing belt replacement


passenger side front body mount damage






It was nice having access to some VERY expensive equipment






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Old 02-18-2021, 07:18 PM #7
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Here are some pics of a few of the transformations along the way.











































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Old 02-18-2021, 07:47 PM #8
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Man thatís a lot a great work, nice job! Didnít realize your build was a salvage either. Just when you get done everything you want, you start over lol. Canít wait to see the full Taco swap once finished. Thank you for sharing.
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Old 02-18-2021, 09:37 PM #9
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I really enjoy reading and following build threads, so I'm glad you pulled this together! Great work! I remember this was a copart snag, but I didn't realize there was that much damage, so was neat to see it get fixed. Sounds like this isn't your first copart rodeo haha.

For copart, did you need some sort of dealer auction license or can a normie buy one?
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Old 02-18-2021, 10:28 PM #10
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Thanks man ! Its been quite a journey !

As far as copart, you need a dealer license, I have a shop contact through a coworker who has access to the account. We buy it through him, he does a the paperwork, charges 200 bucks to sign the cars back over to us. Pretty sweet deal if you ask me.

And no, it is far from my first copart encounter haha. 5th time to be exact haha.

These have been my builds so far
-2013 frs (my wife's current car)
-2006 Lincoln zephyr
-2010 Lincoln mkz
-2015 buick lacrosse

My neighbors look at me funny when I have a respirator on and am walking around in the driveway clear coating a half wrapped up car aemravan's build thread - project TacoRunner

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Old 02-19-2021, 07:22 PM #11
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Day 1 of diff and axle swap and welded total chaos gussets. Making progress. The front diff is already in the car and gussets are welded ready to be painted tonight.

The rcv axles are beefy next to thr factory ones..







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Old 02-19-2021, 07:30 PM #12
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any plans to upgrade suspension?
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Old 02-19-2021, 08:20 PM #13
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any plans to upgrade suspension?
Definitely. Haven't decided between fox, king or radflow... but yes, for sure.

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Old 02-19-2021, 08:33 PM #14
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keeping your JBA UCA?
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Old 02-19-2021, 08:51 PM #15
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keeping your JBA UCA?
When I do the upgrade, probably not. But that won't be until about a year or so from now.

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