Style is great. It grabs your attention and pulls you in. You inch ever closer, wondering what's in store. Once you're there, it's time to ogle the substance. We expect mechanical and functional trickery. If it's missing, we make a quick U-turn and walk away, repeating the phrase "good from afar, but far from good."
Our first glance of Ryan Shimp's '01 Toyota Tundra SR5 Access Cab commanded a second glance. We strode over, coin flipping in the air, wondering if there was more to this truck than met the eye at 20 yards. Heads, we had a solid truck with assorted graphics and a get-you-noticed wheel and tire package. Tails, the truck's beauty started at the skin and went to the core. We dropped to a knee and checked out the Tundra's underpinnings. Tails it was.
"Project Long-Travel Tundra was born when I wanted to create a very usable off-road truck," stated Shimp. "This is something that the average off-road enthusiast can build." Ryan's canvas happens to be a Toyota, but we can see the same type of truck transformation applying equally to any number of late-model trucks, whether fullsize or mini, domestic or imported.
To make room for the 33x17-inch BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain KMs, Ryan looked to Glassworks Unlimited for a set of fenders. The 'glass sports bigger wheel openings, letting oversized rubber cycle up and down unopposed by constrictive stock sheetmetal. Going for the 'glass does away with the need for large lifts in the name of tire clearance. The truck's center of gravity is low for stable turns and twists.
Nothing screams "under construction" quite like a pair of snow-white fenders, so Ryan took the Tundra to Doug Nelson of Doug's Customs for paint. Nelson sprayed the white 'glass with the black OEM hue to match the rest of the truck, then applied the candy cobalt-blue ghost flames that capture the essence of this truck's style-and-substance balancing act.
Toyota's 4.7L iForce V-8 was left stock internally, but received key bolt-on upgrades that woke up the performance potential of the iForce. A set of Bassani headers feed into a Bassani stainless-steel after-cat system and "really bring the V-8 to life." Filtered air enters the 4.7L through a K&N intake, and an Optima Yellow Top battery helps provide the spark.