Jump Champs: Travis Amazon’s 2009 Toyota Tacoma Prerunner

When it comes to prerunner trucks, the Toyota Tacoma has almost always been a popular option. The engine isn’t anything special, but the chassis and suspension components are pretty strong from the factory. When we were out at the 2017 Jump Champs, we came across this really clean Tacoma prerunner that we just had to check out.

Travis Amazon, the owner of this truck, bought it back in 2015 after he saw his friend Eric Vandal built a Tacoma Prerunner. Travis fell in love with the way that prerunner looked and just had to have one. After Travis bought the Tacoma, he took it straight to Eric to be built exactly the way he wanted. The first modification that was done to the truck was a Camburg front suspension kit and then the rear suspension. After driving the truck for the first time, Eric realized a better front suspension kit was needed to match up with the rear suspension.

When Eric began his search for a better front suspension kit he stumbled across the LSK kit. What’s really cool about the LSK kit is its ability to bolt the shock to the factory coil bucket. This eliminates almost all of the fabrication work that most kits require.

The LSK kit uses a 10-inch coilover and can also use 10-inch bypass shocks, allowing for an impressive 15 inches of travel. The kit also uses uniballs and heims, so there are fewer components that are likely to fail when Travis is driving fast in the desert.

Notice all the heim joints and uniballs in the suspension.

Eric went with 2.5-inch King coilovers on the front of this Tacoma and didn’t use bypass shocks in conjunction with the coilovers. One of the cool things about the Tacoma is how strong the steering rack is. On many prerunners, an upgraded steering system is required to keep up with the extra load that prerunning puts on the system. For a Tacoma, however, a slightly beefier steering rod and a larger uniball are more than enough.

The rear suspension uses a DMZ 62-inch spring under conversion kit. This kit uses custom made 62-inch Deaver leaf springs that allow for up to 17 inches of travel. Those 62-inch springs are much longer than the factory springs, so Eric had to cut off all of the factory leaf spring mounting points and fabricate new ones in different locations. Eric made a custom bed cage and mounted a set of 2.5-inch King triple bypass shocks with about 16 inches of travel. Having slightly more travel in the rear would help with maintaining traction in really rough terrain.

All that rear suspension is mounted to a 2002 Toyota Tundra rear axle. Not only is the Tundra rear axle stronger (which is needed for those 35-inch tires), but it’s also wider. The wider rear axle helps the truck stay balanced with an 84-inch track width up front, and an 80-inch track width in the rear. Since the DMZ rear suspension kit required relocating the factory spring perches and shock mounts, it made sense to upgrade the rear axle at the same time which took the same modifications anyway. The rear axle upgrade also takes the Tacoma from a 3.73:1 gear ratio to a 4.10:1 gear ratio. The lower gear ratio helps turn those big tires too.

The bed cage helps keep everything tidy and allows for King shocks to be mounted.

“The timeline was like 2015 to 2016, we built the truck really fast. Travis bought it and we did it in our garage. We cut everything apart and it started with the front suspension kit which was a Camburg front kit. We saw the LSK kit, fell in love, and swapped over,” said Eric.

The 35-inch tires fill up the Fiberwerx fenders perfectly.

As far as the exterior modifications, this Tacoma is fairly simple. The front fenders and rear bedsides are from Fiberwerx and cover the wider track really well. There is a simple LED light bar hidden down in the lower part of the stock bumper, and a small LED light bar box made by Blitzkrieg Motorsports mounted on the bed cage in the rear. The lights inside that light bar box are used as both running lights and brake lights using the stock wiring for the factory taillights.

The lights inside the light bar box work as both running lights and brake lights.

The brakes on this Tacoma are stock, which isn’t exactly ideal, but big brake kits are pretty expensive, so it’s understandable. Those brakes have to stop 35-inch Toyo A/T tires mounted on Stealth wheels. On the rear bed cage are two fire extinguishers, because you can never be too safe. Also mounted on the bed cage are a spare tire and a jack.

“My favorite part has to be the rear bed cage. I’m really proud of how that came out with the boxed shock mounts and all the tig welding. It came out really solid. We were kind of hit with the challenge of making it all bolt-on and getting optimal space in the bed to potentially put two dirt bikes or whatever you need for your adventure” said Eric.

The truck doesn’t currently have a roll cage, but that’s on the list of modifications to be done. The owner, Travis, likes to go exploring a lot and wants to make the truck a prerunner/overlander hybrid with a roof-top tent mounted above the bed. The only problem is that the truck is 2WD, but with all that suspension travel and a limited slip differential, it’s just a matter of hitting the gas anytime you’re close to getting stuck. Also on the list of possible future modification is a Lowrance GPS system.

Overall, this Tacoma is very clean and functional.

The interior is pretty much stock, but with the addition of a Lowrance GPS system in the future, it will be pretty awesome. Eric was happy to be out at the 2017 Jump Champs event and said “Jump champs is a really cool event. I like the atmosphere, everyone is out here having a good time, and there’s a lot of cool trucks.  I’d suggest it to anyone.” We look forward to seeing this truck around, especially with the future modifications that are planned for it.

About the author

Bryce Cleveland

Bryce has been in the automotive industry for most of his life. He’s done everything from fixing cars, flipping cars, writing about cars, and everything in-between. He has owned a total of 18 vehicles, most of which he owned before the age of 20. He currently drives his 2015 Ford Fiesta ST every single day and has plans to buy his third Jeep XJ Cherokee very soon.
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