Toyota Tacomas are coming on strong. How's that? When you combine Toyota's deserved reputation for longevity with the emerging affordability of used Tacos as the years progress, you've got a new-owner group that's chomping at the bit to modify their new-to-them trucks to the hilt and then hit the dirt. The Tacoma engines, both the inline 2.4L and 2.7L four-holes and the 3.4L six-hole, are much more powerful than the previous 22RE and 3VZE (aka the three-point-slow) engines. The six-lug Tacoma front coilover suspension rides smoothly and offers greater reliability than the torsion-bar system it replaced. If you've ever had a torsion bar slip in its socket, you can relate to what we're talking about.
Camburg Off-Road Engineering's '01 Tacoma Xtracab 4x4 is a perfect blueprint for Tacoma owners who want to augment off-road prowess without sacrificing their trucks' hauling and daily driving facets. "We're building this truck in two stages," explained Camburg's Jerry Zaiden. "The Stage One suspension is completely bolt-on and makes the most of the Tacoma in its factory trim." Although renowned for its Ranger and F-150 I-beam suspension systems, Camburg's Toyota credentials run all the way back to the 'Burg's beginnings in 1997. A pair of 2-1/2-inch Camburg coilovers takes the place of the factory originals, with a Deaver leaf pack and a Bilstein 5150 reservoir shock slung into the rear OEM mounting locations. Simple, right? For rolling stock, 35-inch Nitto Mud Grapplers on American Racing Mojave Black Teflon ATX wheels fill the fenderwells. The pumped-up meats mandated more sheetmetal clearance and a gearing change. Glassworks Unlimited front fenders now clear the tires, and the ring-and-pinion ratio was dropped to a respectable, if slightly tall, 4.56 to 1.
We spent an afternoon putting Camburg's Stage One Tacoma through its paces on a stormy day in SoCal. Any notion that seasons don't change in Cali' should be dissuaded by a perusing glance through the photo gallery. Our verdict? With abundantly available used trucks, better engines, and top-drawer suspension kits, we don't think it's a stretch to say that the "Golden Age of the Tacoma" is upon us. Time to check out the classifieds.