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.” 

straight axle swap tacoma

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. 

toyota Tacoma 4x4

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. 

double cab tacoma

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. 

lifted tacoma

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. 

tacoma bumper winch

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. 

tacoma 38s

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. 

lifted double can tacoma

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

toyota lockers

2004 Tacoma Double Cab 4×4 with Solid Axle Swap

Owner: Brian Cox, Newbury Park, CA

Front Axle: 

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 

Grizzly locker 

Nitro 5.29 gears

Rear Axle: 

Factory Toyota 8” with eLocker 

Yukon chromoly axle shafts 

Trail Gear diff protector 

Nitro 5.29 gears

Front Suspension: 

12” travel Sway-A-Way front coilovers using dual-rate Swift Springs 150/300 with lockouts 

Trail Gear Limiting Straps

Rear Suspension:

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: 

2.28 hybrid Marlin Crawler/Trail Gear with custom Yotamasters crossmember


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

lifted 1st gen tacoma

Import Alliance car show