While most other brands just gave up on the SEMA show, even its COVID-19 equivalent SEMA360, dropping an old friend in his hour of need, Toyota stuck with it.
“When SEMA decided to go virtual, we knew we wanted to be a part of it because when we commit to something at Toyota, we see it through no matter what, and this year is no exception,” said Ed Laukes, Group Vice President – Toyota Division Marketing. “For 2020, we’re celebrating pure performance, both on and off road. Supra and Tacoma are legendary brands with legendary performance, so it made sense to use them to set the stage this year.”
Now don’t expect the vibrant creativity shown by previous SEMA show vehicles like the Swagger Wagon stretched Sienna, the twin-engine Scion xD or that stock Camry body placed on a Funny Car chassis and drivetrain. This year’s entries are a bit more subdued. The first one is kinda cool and looks like it’d be fun to own. The next two are Formula Drift cars that have been competing all year, not new, but we appreciate the engineering that went into them. And that last one? A Supra that was, essentially, looks like it was painted with words. Don’t know what to make of that. But Toyota is at least showing up at SEMA360. Almost every other manufacturer didn’t even do that. So here’s to you Toyota! But give us another Swagger Wagon next year, will ya?
But in Toyota’s defense, this is the first wave of show cars. There will be a second wave but it won’t come until after SEMA360. So let’s all hang on until then, okay?
Yes, there is a magazine dedicated to the gnarliest Toyota 4X4s made, and it’s even still printed on paper! After having to go all-digital during the COVID-19 pandemic, the mag will be back in print on paper soon. In the meantime, you can check it out online at 4wdtoyotaowner.com. There you’ll see maximum articulation from suspensions you may be more used to seeing on aftermarket Jeeps. But as I recall last time I was in Georgetown, Calif., home of the Rubicon, a lot of the local kids were driving Tacoma pickups with cages where the doors used to be and big wheels and tires. Toyotas have been a strong presence off-road since the first FJ40 rolled off the ship from Japan. They remain a big part of the four-by community, as best exemplified by the builds shown in 4WD Toyota Owner Magazine.
So when Toyota was looking for a build for SEMA, the magazine was a natural.
“We were excited when the 4WD Toyota Owner Magazine editors shared their idea for this project, and we naturally thought it would be cool to include the build in our SEMA360 presentation,” said Ed Laukes, Group Vice President – Toyota Division Marketing.
The editors started with a Tacoma TRD PRO and worked with Ryan O’Connell and ShmellFab to create the build you see here. Their Tacoma sports a parts list as long as your swing arm: ToyTec BOSS Aluma 2.5 Series coilovers, shocks and add-a-leaf package; Toyota E-locker locking differential; CBI Offroad Fabrication lower control arms, front to rear aluminum and steel skid plates, and DOM steel tube rock sliders with top plates and CBI’s ‘kickout’ design; Camburg Engineering upper control arms, and MaxTrax MKII traction boards. On the power side, the team added a Magnuson Superchargers Roots-type TVS1900 blower, increasing output to 370 horsepower and 330 lbs-ft of torque.
Other components include: BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM3 255/85R16 tires mounted on 16×8-inch matte black 704 Trail Series from Method Race Wheels, CBI Offroad Fabrication T3 aluminum front bumper and T3 Swing Arm Series steel rear bumper with dual swingouts, a ComeUp SEAL Gen2 9.5rs winch, aluminum CBI Offroad Fabrication Prinsu Cab Rack fitted with a 40-inch SR Pro LED series light bar and four LED Scene Lights from Rigid Industries, a 20-inch Rigid Industries SR Pro light bar in the front bumper, a Truck Covers USA locking cargo bed cover and rack system, and a Yakima SkyLine bed rack.
Finally, to ensure overlanding explorers have what they need for days off the grid, the editors fitted the Overland Tacoma with a PowerTank PT10 air compressor, a four-gallon Rotopax fuel storage container, a two-gallon Rotopax water storage container, a Hi-Lift jack, and a Yakima SkyRise cargo bed tent.
Last year at the Overland Expo West gathering I camped out in one of those Yakima Skyrise tents and it was warm as a toasted bagel inside and kept the snow and rain off easily. Setting it up took no longer than a regular tent, same with folding it back over. So I can recommend that part of the build. Look forward to being able to recommend the other parts. Maybe they’ll let us drive it someday.
This is the actual car wheeled by pro driver Ken Gushi in Formula Drift this year. Gushi’s No. 21 GR Supra sports a big BorgWarner EFR 9280 turbo, considerably larger than the stock charging unit on the stock Supra, as well as a custom Sean Adriano Racing exhaust. Power goes through a Samsonas six-speed sequential gearbox. Outside is a Pandem Rocket Bunny body kit that swallows those extra-wide Rays wheels and Achilles tires. It’s all finished with Toyota Gazoo Racing colors of white background with red and black accents.
Gushi grew up in Montebello, Calif., and started drifting when he was 13. His dad got an original AE86 Toyota and took him to El Mirage dry lakebed, a good place to start since there’s nothing to hit. He’s now a Formula D veteran with 16 years under his Sparco belt. You can see him drive this car in the FD finals at Irwindale, Calif., Nov. 20-22.
This is already a pretty well-documented build. Team owner Steph Papadakis’ YouTube channel has millions of hits to the series of videos documenting this car’s acquisition, teardown and build, including several vids on the engine alone. Papadakis’ easygoing, straightforward style makes learning about race builds fun and enjoyable, if only he had been your auto shop teacher instead of mean old Mr. Berkowitz.
This car is driven by Formula Drift champion Frederic Aasbo, a driver from Norway who is the winningest driver in Formula D history, and was the series’ champ in 2015 (and might be again this year).
Papadakis took the stock Supra’s B58 straight six and built it up into a 1000+-hp tire-shredding machine. The long list of upgrades includes a BorgWarner EFR 9280 turbocharger with dual TiAL Sport MV-R 44mm wastegates; AEM fuel pumps, fuel regulator, filter; AEM CD-7 dash; Injector Dynamics fuel injectors; BC forged steel connecting rods; custom 11-to-1 compression pistons from JE Pistons; Supertech Performance valvetrain; Kelford Cams exhaust cam; Mountune 3D printed aluminum intake manifold; and a Full Race turbo manifold.
When all was said and done, Papadakis Racing nearly tripled output to a pavement crushing 1,033 horsepower and 908 lb.-ft. of torque!
You can still see it run when Formula Drift finishes its season in Irwindale Nov. 20-22. Watch it live on Formulad.com
Still trying to figure this one out. According to B&A’s Illustrators page, “Ornamental Conifer is the moniker of British artist, Nicolai Sclater. Over the past few years Conifer has travelled internationally producing work for exhibitions and private collectors, as well as working closely with large brands on commercial projects.
“Painting onto motorcycles, cars, clothing and an ever-increasing array of objects, Conifer’s work focuses on humour, wordplay, mischief and often-controversial yet motivational messages. Through the medium of hand painted typography and patterns, using traditional sign writing brushes and enamel paint, Conifer pays homage to the tradition of sign painting whilst allowing his earlier influences in graffiti and design to help him carve out his own progressive niche.”
That’s exactly what I thought. So Ornamental Conifer painted some words on this innocent Supra, and here it is.
“To think he did this and all the accompanying artwork by hand blows me away, especially in an era where digitally printed vinyl wraps are the rage,” said Laukes. “I’m looking forward to hearing what automotive enthusiasts and Supra fans think of this project.”
Tell us what you think in the comments below.
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