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Custom 1998 Toyota Tacoma - Red Wine

Just Like Wine, This Truck Gets Better With Age

John Jackson
May 1, 2007
Photographers: John Jackson
Everyone knows a guy like Richard Hopkins, from Burlington, N.C. He is the one who everyone goes to when they want their vehicles built to perfection. But, due to all of the work, Richard keeps putting his own projects on the back-burner. Richard has built several magazine features, and Best of Show winning vehicles that have the attention to detail that leaves judges scratching their heads, and sends the competition back to the drawing boards. Well, with the final completion of this incredible Taco, it's finally Richard's time to shine.
From the frame to under the cab, this thing is slicker than most peoples' exterior paint. Richard has brought the words "subtle" and "wild" together into one of the East Coast's cleanest minitrucks. Now, don't get it twisted. The four-year build time was not all cake and candy. It included quite a few fits of profanity that could make a sailor blush. I have known Richard for probably close to eight years, so I feel safe in telling you about one of these incidents.
By the time Richard had his Taco all pegged for a sliding ragtop, there was a show in Myrtle Beach that just couldn't be missed. It was a late night with the boys, and a few beers later, when Richard pulled out the Sawzall to cut some metal. Needless to say, alcohol and the Sawzall don't mix too well. After cutting a hole in the roof, Richard got the ragtop up onto the roof, and promptly watched it go through the roof, and continue all of the way to the floor. That's when Richard stepped back, and noticed that the hole was a lot larger than the sliding ragtop the manufacturer had sent. Well, after a few choice words, being the perfectionist that he is, Richard re-skinned the entire roof. Now, I am sure Richard is going to kill me for telling you this story, but as you can tell by the pics, everything worked out in the end.
So, don't give up hope on your local fabricator. Richard is positive proof that a builder can finish their own truck, just give them some time.

Rolling Attire
Wheels (Front): 18x8-inch Roxx Gabbros
Wheels (Rear): 20x8-inch Roxx Gabbros
Backspace (Front): 42 mm
Backspace (Rear): 40 mm
Tires (Front): 215/35R18 Wanli
Tires (Rear): 225/35R20 Wanli
Chassis Mods
Suspension type: AirFront
'Bagged, flipped ball joints
Rear suspension: Reverse stainless four-link
'Bags (Front): Firestone 2500
'Bags (Rear): Firestone 2600
Shocks: Chrome, street-rod shocks front and rear
Valves: Eight 3/8-inch 450 GC Xtreme valves
Air line: 3/8-inch stainless steel hard lines front to rear
Frame mods: All parts covered with four-stage paint
Frame material: Stock frame with step notch and custom tube work
Detail work: Stainless brake lines, nuts, bolts, and everything else painted
Misc.: Hard lined, '93 Toyota rearend, rear disc-brake conversion, and shortened gas neck
Performed by: Richard Hopkins (Sunset Creations)
Body Modifications
Shaved: Front corner lights, antenna hole, door handles, key lock on gas door, taillights, roll pan, tailgate handle, and bed floor
Body-drop: 3-1/2-inch body-drop retaining factory heat and air conditioning
Hood: 2-inch cowl
Back end: Smoothed and color keyed bedliner, floor, and underneath the truck
Tailights: Two 8-1/2-inch LEDs in the roll pan
Exterior: 35x35 sliding ragtop, and chrome 2000 taco mirrors
Misc.: Billet 4WD gear, clear bumper lights, painted underneath cab and bed, full color change from green to red, 4WD bumper and valance, 4WD fenders, and firewall tubs
Brand/colors: PPG Global Cadillac Tri-Stage Red for the body, frame is Black with Red Pearlcoat, Red tinted, and re-cleared
Style: Basecoat
Clearcoat: Single color
Misc.: Sanded and buffed everything is painted
Performed by: Richard Hopkins (Sunset Creations)
Location: Burlington, N.C.
Seats: Shell-colored leather
Material: Leather
Dash: Matte-finish paint to match the seats
Door panels: Leather and paint
Flooring: Biscuit-colored carpet
Misc.: Scuba Tank (Silver), Hardlined through color keyed enclosure that houses battery, and a Spider 2 steering wheel
Performed by: Richard Hopkins (Sunset Creations)
Head unit: JVC
Mids and highs: Sony
Custom fabrication: Custom Enclosure for battery, and scuba tank
Performed by: Richard Hopkins (Sunset Creations)
Displacement: 2.4-liter '98 Taco four cylinder
Transmission: Five-speed manual
Rearend type: '94 Toyota
Intake: Hot Shot Intake
Headers exhaust: Stock shortened and sectioned
Driveshaft: Painted stock
Battery: Optima red top mounted under box inside of the cab
Misc.: '84 Toyota clutch, and slave cylinder. Moved up 3 inches, billet overflow
Performed by: Richard Hopkins (Sunset Creations)
Special Thanks (from the owner):
My wife Jennifer, and my parents for putting up with all of the racket after-hours at their house. Also, thanks to my good friends Jose, Chris, and the support from my club Subculture, who all kept me motivated.


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