1984 Toyota Tacoma Xtracab - Skinned Alive

Endure the Pain

Lance Martz
Oct 1, 2009
A few years ago, we received a tech article from the guys at Alter Images in Northern California. They shot all of the photos, so writing the article was as simple as making a few phone calls to them. They had a young fabricator there with an older body style Toyota that was receiving major surgery with skin panels to radically change the shape of the truck. We called that article "Skinned Alive," and the name stuck. Today, that fabricator, Tyler Edwards, has a shop of his own where he does all of his own work and makes custom body panels for others under the shop name Timeless Custom Manufacturing (TCM). Recently, he finished the truck, and we quickly snapped up the opportunity to slam it into our studio where we shot this month's cover and cover feature. Listen in on what Tyler had to say about his truck and his journey toward starting and now owning his own custom shop.
Owner's Box
Tyler Edwards

'84 Toyota Xtracab

Oroville, California

MT: (Looking at Tyler's tech sheet) Occupation -- mini-trucker, huh? Pretty cool. Can you tell everyone what you really do for a living?

Tyler: I own Timeless Custom Manufacturing in Oroville, California.

MT: What does your company do?

Tyler: We manufacture a lot of the tailgate skins, roll pans, airbag kits, and steel body panels used in custom shops.

MT: Who are your biggest customers?

Tyler: Probably US Auto is our biggest account, but we're hoping to pick up Godfathers soon.

MT: Can you tell us a little about your truck when you first got it?

Tyler: Well, when I bought the truck, I traded a set of 17-inch wheels to Bob Grant (Owner of Grant Fabrication) for the truck and got the cab and bed home on a trailer. The rest of it was in milk crates.

MT: Milk crates? You're kidding, right?

Tyler: No, I'm for real. That thing had the transmission, the driveline, and some miscellaneous stuff in crates. I basically bought a body and a frame. I stripped a truck that I had been driving to piece this one together.

MT: Who did all of the skinning work on the truck? It's not your typical Toyota anymore.

Tyler: I did most of it while I worked for Bob Grant. He had a lot of ideas and helped me with a lot, though.

MT: What was the reason you decided to skin the truck?

Tyler: We were making tailgate skins for trucks, so we decided to make a door skin so the door wouldn't have to be shaved. Then Bob decided that we should just skin the truck to get rid of the body lines.

MT: How long has it taken you to build your truck?

Tyler: It has taken four years because of a little of everything such as time and money. It always seemed that something stood in the way of finishing the truck.

MT: Can you give us some examples where you ran into specific problems when building your truck?

Tyler: Yeah, during the skinning we learned a lot. We kept having to redo panels because we'd do them just slightly wrong. It had to be dead-on.

MT: What areas were the hardest to build?

Tyler: The fenders and the back of the bed around the taillights were probably the hardest parts on skinning the whole truck.

MT: You have a 4Runner bumper on the rear of the truck. How hard was that to make it work?

Tyler: Well, we built the bed to match the bumper. The bed is actually 4 inches shorter than a stock '84 Toyota American bed.

MT: So you cut the bed toward the back of the truck, right?

Tyler: Yeah, that way we didn't have to do any other frame modifications; we got the amount of room needed to fit the 4Runner bumper.

MT: Who 'bagged and body dropped the truck?

Tyler: When I got the truck, it was already 'bagged and body dropped. I think Bob did it. That truck has been around for at least 10 years, with just as many owners.

MT: How long have you had it now?

Tyler: It has been about four years now.

MT: So what did you change about the truck?

Tyler: We redid the body drop since it had been done so long ago. It's now fully welded and rebuilt from the firewall back.

MT: Where did you get all of your Toyota parts for Skinned Alive?

Tyler: I bought all of my parts new from DeLatte Auto Parts in Sacramento, California.

MT: Is the engine of the truck stock?

Tyler: No, it has been built mildly. It's a brand-new 22R with a little cam, shaved 20-thousandths off the head, bored 0.060 over, and that's basically all that's done. Otherwise, the block's painted with some chrome.

MT: How much driving do you do?

Tyler: None. I plan to take it to some shows and let people see it.

MT: Who did the paintwork on your truck?

Tyler: The Hack Shack did all of the body prep and basecoat when the shop was located in Phoenix. Then the crew flew Moonie out from Third World Customs in Hobbs, New Mexico, to spray my graphics.

MT: Moonie (Brian Moon) is really cool. We hung out at Heat Wave last year. He did a great job on the graphics. I hope he moves closer to civilization one day. It's too bad he couldn't be here today. We were supposed to shoot his Chevy too.

Tyler: Yeah, that sucks about his truck. Must have been one big tree to total his ride like that.

MT: It damaged Third World Customs a bit too. I really liked his ride. It's clean as hell with a lot of great electronic gadgets. Hey, we're guys -- we like gadgets. Who did the interior work on your truck?

Tyler: I did the steel fab work, but Larry Echols did a ton of the work. He deserves most of the credit for the paint inside the truck. He painted the dash and interior fast and did great work.

MT: I'm glad that we finally got a chance to shoot your truck. I feel like we've waited an eternity for it to be completed.

Tyler: I've never actually had anything painted, so this truck served to be my inspiration. I tell you, it's a cool feeling to see your ride in ads every month. It makes me want to build more and help others out when I can. Hell, I've even worked for free to help local guys out.

MT: That's cool, bro. So what's next for you?

Tyler: I'm workin' on a crazy Chevy right now that ought to turn a few heads. That's the next one to get done.

MT: Did you ever think that you'd be sitting here today having your truck shot for the cover of Mini Truckin'?

Tyler: Never! I used to sit in high school and look through Mini Truckin' and just wish I could get a small show photo in there. This is more than a show photo. The model is hot; good job picking her out.

MT: It took some sweet-talking because she doesn't typically do automotive photography. She was really cool to work with. Thanks for letting us get Skinned Alive captured on film, Tyler.

Tyler: You're welcome. This has definitely been an awesome day. Too bad it's going to take so long to drive back home to Oroville, but it was worth it.
The Lowdown
'Bagged on leaf springs in the rear and up front as well using Firestone bags and Toxic shocks.
Seventeen-inch TSW custom chrome wheels with 205/40R17 tires.
Tan leather bucket seats were made from scratch and set into steel surrounds made by Tyler Edwards. Larry Echols worked nonstop to get the interior painted in time for the cover shoot, and the dash was fabbed by Tyler Edwards at TCM in Oroville. Upholstery work was performed locally in Oroville too.
Bodywork and basecoat were done by Eric Arnold and The Hack Shack in Phoenix, but the graphics were sprayed by Brian "Moonie" Moon from Third World Customs in Hobbs, New Mexico, using both PPG and House of Kolor paints.
Mods All panels skinned by Tyler Edwards and Bob Grant for a total body shave, a '95 4Runner grille and headlights, and an '89 Toyota front bumper serve to update the front appearance of the truck. The Toyota's 3-1/2-inch body drop was performed by TCM in Oroville.
Painted and chromed parts of a mildly built 22R Toyota four-cylinder. All machine work was done by Butte Auto in Oroville.



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