This is Brian Cox’s lifted 2004 Tacoma Double Cab 4×4 on 38 inch tires with a solid axle swap. As automotive enthusiasts, we tend to wanna overbuild everything we buy right out the gate. It’s an easy trap. One that we WILL try & justify to ourselves & everyone around us lol. And it typically goes a little something like this:
“Well see I really want to do that, but then I’d really need to do this at the same time… or it’s gonna end up breaking this that & the other thing… right? Yeah let’s just pull this whole thing apart, get in over our head, & probably keep it in pieces for the next 3 years.”
It’s a slippery slope that puts a domino effect into motion where you’re always chasing the next weak link.
And you end up in some hopeless endless loop where your car stays disassembled & the money keeps pouring in. Is that what you envisioned for yourself?? Nah… you envisioned yourself having great times & living awesome life experiences. So do more of that already.
Build it as you go, and build it as you grow.
It’s easy to wander down Google rabbit holes & Youtube videos while you fantasize about the ultimate version of your ride. But we also have to know when to snap back & keep a certain level of perspective. Don’t let yourself get so caught up… that what you own, OWNS YOU. Stay keen to the sweet spot. Make sure that your hobby is a source of enjoyment… not torment.
Rigs like this Tacoma appeal to a lot of car enthusiasts because they’re tough, rugged, & capable.
But I’ll let you in on a secret: You don’t need 38-inch tires & lockers to go off-road. You just need… the right mindset… some good buddies… and something with 4wd. That’s where it starts. Because getting out there is the fun part. That’s what it’s all about. The rest will come in good time. Meaning – you’ll inevitably break some things & wear some OEM parts out. And when you do, consider it God’s blessing to go ahead and make some upgrades lol.
Brian Cox works at Vortech Superchargers.
And back in 2010, he bought this 2004 Tacoma 4×4 TRD with 70k miles on the clock. Brian immediately threw a mild 2.5” lift & some 33” tires on it… and hit the dirt. For years he rode it like that, having a blast everywhere he went.
Then in 2014 it was time for some upgrades…
So Brian bit the bullet, upped the ante, and did the straight axle swap at about 165k miles. He really wanted to be able to conquer trails like the Rubicon, Dusy-Ershim in CA, Moab trails in Utah… and local spots like John Bull & Holcomb Creek trails in Big Bear, CA. The straight axle would help him do just that.
During the straight axle swap…
Brian upgraded from 33” to 35” tires and 4.88 gears. A bit later though, he realized he wanted more, and upped to 37″ tires with Nitro 5.29 gears. When I first got into Jeeps, the Rugged Ridge guys taught me to try & build your rig around the size tires you ultimately/ideally want to run… if you can help it. It doesn’t seem like there’s much difference between 35s & 37s, but it often does require strengthening axle components & re-gearing, sometimes adding lift, etc.
Now the Tacoma sits on a set of Falken Wildpeak MT true 38’s to help dial it in & make it an even better rock crawler.
And with that same goal of rock conquering, Brian went to his friends at Yotamasters, where they did a 2.28 gear reduction Dual Case (twin sticks), and custom transfer case crossmember for more overall capabilities & control on obstacles.
To this day, Brian’s Tacoma is still road-capable & daily driven…
It now shows over 275,000 adventure-filled miles on the clock! And for me that gives it a lot of cool-factor. Because I think no matter how you slice it, a little something gets lost when you have to trailer your rig to the trailhead.
Future mods include a custom roll cage, a Diamond Chromoly rear axle housing with 10.5” Tundra third member with an ARB Air Locker, Full Float 35 spline RCV Chromoly Axle shafts, and rear disc/drum “Drotor” brakes with internal parking brake.
Text by Wooley Photos by Brian Cox
2004 Tacoma Double Cab 4×4 with Solid Axle Swap
Owner: Brian Cox, Newbury Park, CA
All Pro solid axle swap conversion
Diamond Axles chromoly axle housing with 8” hi-pinion third member
Longfield chromoly axle shafts
All Pro hi-steer kit
ARP knuckle and hub studs
Nitro 5.29 gears
Factory Toyota 8” with eLocker
Yukon chromoly axle shafts
Trail Gear diff protector
Nitro 5.29 gears
12” travel Sway-A-Way front coilovers using dual-rate Swift Springs 150/300 with lockouts
Trail Gear Limiting Straps
4.5” lift with Atlas Suspension leaf springs
Sky’s Offroad shackle hangers & shackles
OME U-bolt flip kit and Durabump stops
Dual Transfer Case:
Raceline RT 231 Monster Beadlocks
Falken Wildpeak MT’s 38×12.50×17
All Pro front & rear bumpers, rock sliders
Warn M8000 synthetic line winch