By and large, when you think of a prerunner, you think of one of two truck builds – either a classic Ford Ranger or a Toyota Tacoma. Both have their quirks and fanbases. But Kyle Piper wanted to go for something different when he bought a 2017 Toyota Tundra.
Coming from a family of Chevy fans, Kyle was the odd one out when he stepped into a Tundra and realized he’d found the perfect build platform. His goal was to fabricate a prerunner that toed the line between comfortable everyday pickup and full-blown desert truck. Once finished, it would offer not only interior comfort, but also considerable off-road performance.
We first caught sight of Kyle’s Tundra on Instagram, where he goes by the handle sundance_67. The Tundra, in all its Quicksand, flared fender glory, looked like a full-blown stunner. After reaching out and organizing a day to meet up, we headed down to Corona, California to hang out with Kyle and his terrific Toyota.
Background Of The Build
On an early morning in September, the heat was already building up. But that didn’t matter. What mattered was a truck that commanded respect, as evidenced by the clean body lines and perfect paint job.
Kyle gave us the download on how he came to own the Tundra and his reasoning behind the full-size choice. “I wanted to go bigger before I went smaller,” he explained. “The Tacomas and Rangers and Colorados, sure, they’re nice. But I didn’t want to own a midsize and then later wish I’d had a bigger bed or a bigger backseat. Not to mention, a Tacoma typically costs more than a Tundra.”
After weighing the options and settling on a Tundra, Kyle purchased the truck in April 2017. He decided the truck would sport mid-travel suspension; enough to give him some off-road thrills, but not so much as to cost an arm and a leg. “I took my time buying modifications,” he said. “I’d wait for a deal here, a sale there, and before long, the truck was fully mid-traveled.”
Kyle ran the truck as such for a period of six months. Then he wanted long-travel suspension up front, and started making moves in that direction. “Just like the mid-travel setup, I waited and did the research,” he commented. “The end game was having a truck that was as comfortable on the street as it was sporty off the street.”
The Tundra as seen here was finished back in July 2020, and is still in process of reaching its final form. “I have parts sitting at home that are waiting to go on,” said Kyle. “With the whole lockdown and everything, it’s hard getting parts in, but I have patience and time on my hands. It’s just a matter of time before it’s where I want it to be.”
Tundra Build Highlights
In spite of Kyle’s continued efforts to bring the Tundra to its finished setup, it still looks and performs amazingly. We took a quick tour over the truck to talk about its modifications and the steps Kyle took to get it to its current state.
Up front, Kyle installed an LSK long-travel kit with Locked off-road shock absorbers. “I use Locked’s 2.5-inch-diameter shocks,” he explained. “Right now, it’s got their eight-inch secondaries because I’m waiting on some bypasses getting built. It rides great for right now, and it’ll only get better once the bypasses are installed.”
Out back, the Tundra sported Deaver leaf springs. “I can’t say enough good things about Deaver’s springs,” said Kyle. “They have a racing pedigree and a history that goes way back. Mine are the U478s geared toward towing and weight.” For shocks, Kyle went with custom-valved King shocks using remote reservoirs for added oil capacity.
The wheels and tires were 17-inch Ultra X103 beadlocks and 38-inch Milestar Patagonia M/Ts, respectively. Elaborating on the tires, Kyle said, “For being an up-and-coming tire company in the off-road market, I’m really happy with them. They run great when aired down in sand, and on-road, they’re fairly quiet.” The wheels, meanwhile, were made from raw aluminum and given a ceramic coating to preserve their appearance. Braking came courtesy of R1 Concepts disc brakes, offering great stopping power.
Inside the engine bay, Kyle kept the stock 5.7-liter V8, but he kicked it up a notch. “I’m using a Magnuson supercharger and a D.A.P. tune, along with Doug Thorley long-tube headers,” he said. “It makes about 460 horsepower to the wheels, I’d say. I’m looking to boost that number soon once I get some new fueling components.”
Kyle opted to have his exhaust feed up and over the frame. “DirtSkum’s exhaust gives the Tundra a side exit exhaust, which I’m all about,” he said. “Plus, with the way it’s routed, it doesn’t come into contact with the leaf springs.”
Moving to the Tundra’s exterior, Kyle pointed out several customized touches. His bumpers were SS Built and housed Cali Raised Off Road LED pod lights. These pod lights were also located on the hood and bedsides, giving Kyle plenty of illumination after dark. His headlights were from AlphaRex, while his taillights were from RECON.
Speaking of bedsides, these, along with the front fenders and hood, were all fiberglass. “ADV made the front and rear body panels, and RK Sport made the hood,” Kyle commented. Also on the front end was a T-REX grille.
The star attraction of the exterior was its color scheme, which looked incredible from every angle. Starting with the OEM Quicksand tan paint, Kyle went to the next level by wrapping his fiberglass parts in a closely matched color. “WrapArmor did a great job color matching the wrap to the paint,” he said.
Kyle took care of the bed by installing an SDHQ chase rack, allowing storage of spare tires and essential supplies. “I liked that the rack was completely bolt-in,” he commented. “It keeps the stuff I have back here secure, and if I ever need the full use of the bed, it’s just four bolts away from being back to stock.” At the time of the photo shoot, Kyle was using the rack to store two spare Milestar tires, a Pro Eagle jack, and a Power Tank to refill his tires.
Moving to the interior, Kyle’s setup was just as sleek as the exterior. From the PRP steering wheel and seats to the Getta Grip shifter, the customized look and feel was on point. An added surprise was the suede headliner, which also featured interesting backlight elements that changed color. “I think of them as stars in the ceiling,” Kyle commented. “It’s a little cheesy, but it’s just that extra bit of different and gives it some personality.”
Doin’ It Right
Looking back on what he built, Kyle has nothing but pride in his rig. “I’m always going to be working on it, but I’m very proud of what I’ve put into it,” he said. “It’s not a cookie-cutter build that copies what others have done. Plus, it keeps a lot of the creature comforts like A/C and reclining seats. It’s as close to a Toyota-made Baja or off-road-type Tundra as you can get.”
Keeping the Tundra looking as OEM as possible was a primary goal in Kyle’s build process. His careful considerations in maintaining the factory look and feel on the truck, while also ramping up its off-road performance, were conscious decisions. “When people look at something and say, ‘Oh, it didn’t come like that? That’s not factory?’ To me, that says I did it right,” he said.
Kyle will keep improving the Tundra as time and money allow, and his work shows that what you put into a project is what you’ll get out of it. In his case, it’s a truck that’s visually stunning and functionally awesome. Go check out his Instagram for more great pics and videos of this truck. And let us know if you have an epic truck, Jeep, or UTV that the world needs to see!