Our cover truck photo shoot began with the deep roar of the supercharged V-8 Toyota. The freshly painted Ferrari Yellow Tundra was like no other Toyota seen before. Besides the custom paint, Toyotas just are not supposed to sound so powerful - the throatiness was apparent with the supercharger's whine. La Habra, California, resident James Chen is the owner of this truck. Although James is new to the sport of off-roading, he has been into sports cars his whole life. He remains a big part of the sports car community through his company AXIS Sport Tuning. AXIS is a well-known high-performance aftermarket wheel company.
James recently found himself bitten by the off-road bug, while currently owning several sports cars, including a Ferrari, a Porsche 996, a Subaru WRX, and a new Toyota MR2. Bored with the street scene, James found himself looking for something more, and that's when the off-roading idea hit him. The dynamics of off-roading sent him looking for the perfect starter truck. After some research, James chose an '01 Toyota Tundra.
The project began with a desire to move his company into the off-road market and build a good-looking, solid off-road-worthy hoop. Wanting to do his own product research, James decided to build his very own test truck. The truck began as a black '01 Toyota Tundra. James wasn't satisfied with the black, so he had the truck painted Yellow Modena to match his Ferrari. Prior to painting the Tundra, Glassworks Unlimited installed a set of fiberglass fenders up front to make room for the travel with larger tires. Now on his way to owning his first prerunner, James went to work on all aspects of the Toyota.
With his sports car experience in mind, James took the truck to Klassic Interiors, where the staff installed the soft trim leather interior. TRD offers a similar interior as part of its luxury sport package. James had the crew install larger side boosters to increase driver stability during off-road excursions. The plush interior gives the Tundra a combination of comfort and functionalism.
James' Tundra got a suspension upgrade from Fabtech. James didn't want to lift it too tall so that the center of gravity was raised. "I enjoy getting sideways in turns, so I wanted to keep it pretty low," proclaimed James. He found just what he was looking for from Fabtech Motorsports. The Fabtech 0-to-2-1/2-inch lift kit provides the front suspension with a bolt-on shock and spring kit. The kit uses a FOX shock, giving the truck a smoother ride, and with a 2-1/2-inch adjustable ride height, it allows the owner to level out the Tundra. Fabtech hydraulic shocks replaced the stock rear shocks for some better off-road damping control.
The front and rear bumpers were custom-built by Twisted Tin in Huntington Beach, California. They were fabricated out of steel, and once they were completed, they were powdercoated black to add contrast to the yellow truck.
As odd as it was to hear the deep roar of a V-8 coming from a Toyota, the smooth whine of the supercharger gave it an even more eccentric sound. James has worked closely with the engineers at TRD to help develop his supercharged Tundra. The supercharger boosted the stock 4.7L 245hp V-8 to 320 hp. On the chassis dyno, the supercharger provided a strong 38 percent increase in both torque and horsepower at the wheels. Although this is strictly in the prototype stage, keep your eyes open for a TRD consumer supercharger in the very near future.
TRD also installed its aftermarket exhaust system onto the truck. The system includes both headers and mufflers. The TRD replacement headers by themselves give the Tundra an extra 15 horsepower. The stainless steel exhaust system bumps up the horsepower by 8 and increases the torque 10-to-12 lb-ft. Since not everyone can afford a supercharger, this exhaust system is an affordable way to massage some more power from your Tundra.
Building the truck inspired James to come up with his own wheel design. The combination of his sports car background and seeing the influx of prerunners in SoCal gave James the inspiration he needed for this set of wheels. James set out to build a set of functional wheels for the everyday off-road enthusiast. He came up with a polished aluminum 16x9-inch wheel that weighs only 24 pounds. Although that sounds like just another off-road wheel, James took his wheel design a step further by offering colored bead lock-style rings that bolt onto the wheels. While they are not functioning bead locks, they are street-legal and come in all the colors of the rainbow. The AXIS Regulator wheels were complemented by a set of Yokohama Geolander tires.
As the sport of off-roading grows, so does the variety of people who choose to follow it. James Chen brings with him more than 12 years of sports car knowledge to off-roading. His experience has enabled him to put together a clean package for his first try. This Tundra performed very well compared to many other vehicles. If his future off-road vehicles are anything like his other toys, the off-road community has some sweet vehicles to look forward to.
|Owner/hometown ||James Chen/La Habra, California |
|Make/model ||'01 Toyota Tundra 2WD prerunner |
|Engine || 4.7L 32-valve V-8 supercharged Toyota |
|Tires ||Yokohama Geolander M/T 285/75R-16 |
|Wheels ||AXIS Regulator 16x9-inch machine-polished with bead lock-style anodized rings |
|Exhaust ||TRD stainless with headers |
|Suspension ||Fabtech Tundra 0-to-2-1/2-inch lift kit |
|Additional features ||Fabtech spare tire mount; Twisted Metal |
skidplates and bumpers; PIAA lights; Diamond
Liner spray-in bedliner; Glassworks Unlimited
fenders;TRD grille; TRD rear fender flares