People love Toyota trucks because they're nearly unkillable. Trucks from the early '90s earned a reputation for being extremely reliable and exceptionally economical. The Toyota Pickup was the workhorse of choice for lots of tradesmen, and now, this ex-landscaping rig is getting a new lease on life. Except it isn't being put to work hauling an equipment trailer stacked with weed wackers—it's going land-speed racing.
Scott Birdsall from Chuckles Garage as well as crew members Everett Maggio, Duke Schimmer, Jason Ford, and Bobby Thorsted have built the 1991 Toyota Xtra Cab to break records on the Bonneville Salt Flats. He has plenty of experience with fast trucks, including a 1949 Ford F1 that held the diesel record at Pikes Peak before tragically rolling down the mountain this June. Birdsall and I talked about the build over the phone, and he explained to me why he went in this direction with the project.
"I chose it because of the aerodynamic signature and also I had a '94, which was the same exact body style, in college," Birdsall explained. "I'm really fond of that era of Toyota trucks. I think the '89-'94 trucks are the best truck they ever made."
Unlike the '49 Ford, nicknamed Old Smokey, there's no Cummins diesel under the hood of this machine. Instead, it's a 3.0-liter 2JZ-GTE inline-six making roughly 1,300 horsepower. It uses all the best parts to get there, from the valvetrain to the boost and tuning. Birdsall tossed in a Brian Crower billet crank, Pro Series rods, Stage 3+ camshafts and springs, as well as adjustable cam gears. It runs forged Carrillo pistons, a Garrett G45-1500 turbo, billet main bearings and more from Rad Industries, and the list goes on. LS Fabrication handled the tuning, Banks Power provided all the systems monitoring with iDash DataMonster digital gauges and data loggers, and Amsoil products lubricate the engine as well as the six-speed sequential transmission from 6XD.
Unlike a lot of other all-out builds, the Land Speed Scaping truck retains most of its factory frame.
"We used 90% of the stock chassis," Birdsall explained. "The stock chassis on these things are very well made and they're totally boxed from front to rear. The very, very involved cage basically makes the stock chassis so strong there was no real need to do anything else with it."
The suspension is where they performed a lot of specialized work. It has custom A-arms up front as well as a manual rack-and-pinion steering conversion from the mini truck crew at Stabfab. Willwood spindles are used all the way around, and they fabricated a four-link rear suspension with a panhard bar. Birdsall described all this as "basically road-race spec."
What isn't road-race spec is the ballasts used to push the truck to roughly 5,000 pounds. In land-speed racing, a light race car is the last thing you want. Added weight helps the machine stay stable at speeds above 200 miles per hour, which is what Birdsall is shooting for in his first official runs at Bonneville.
"I built this truck to break the mini midsize pickup all-out record," Birdsall said. "I think the fastest mini truck ever at Bonneville is 222 mph. My goal is 240 mph."
The plan is to run the truck at half-mile airstrip events after it finally hits the salt flats at Bonneville. It ought to be a riot no matter where it's racing. Here's hoping it all goes smoothly and we see some new benchmarks set by the white Toyota with those stellar TRD graphics.
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