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1989 Toyota Hilux- The Unicorn

Mythical Creature in magical metal form

Phil Gordon
Nov 19, 2015
Photographers: Phil Gordon
Have you ever seen a Unicorn? The term is often used to refer to something that is almost never achievable, a mythical something you will never see. Proof that unicorns can be seen is offered by 42-year-old James Day of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. Take a look at his custom 1989 Toyota pickup. As a kid, he would see custom trucks around his British Colombia neighborhood and began to become obsessed with them. In the summer of ’88, he purchased his first Mini Truckin’ Magazine and was captivated immediately. He became involved in the truck scene and crossed the border into the States, and was able to see the custom truck scene in a new way.
Photo 2/7   |   05 1989 Toyota Hilux Interior
Photo 3/7   |   06 1989 Toyota Hilux Rear Bench
After falling in love with the body style, Day found a mint ’89 Toyota from a local auto trader and bought it after some smart negotiating. Before even making the new pickup street legal, Day and friend Sean Maloney brought it to a friend’s stereo shop and installed an air-bag suspension. Day took it to numerous shows. Then in ’99, the Toyota was taken off the road and the given the moniker The Unicorn. Day decided to revamp everything from the frame up, although his wallet might have been screaming about the overhaul.
Photo 4/7   |   03 1989 Toyota Hilux Bed Suspension Drop
During the next six years, Day and his friend Maloney built many of their friend’s trucks to raise funds to further work on The Unicorn. Throughout the process, Day became a licensed mechanic and opened his own garage, increasing his financial flow. He removed the air suspension and installed a hydraulic setup to create a quicker lift and drop. The Unicorn got sheet-metal work and a custom ragtop at the same time. Day enlisted Trevor Bezzina and his crew at Casual Customs to replace the bed, skins, tailgate, fenders, and hood and have everything stripped to bare metal and refinished.
Photo 5/7   |   07 1989 Toyota Hilux Stick Shift
Photo 6/7   |   04 1989 Toyota Hilux Engine
Once again, The Unicorn sat in Day’s garage collecting dust. After purchasing a house and adding a kid to the household, he no longer had enough spare money to finish the truck. The truck became the talk of legends. “What ever happened to that Toyota?” his friends asked. After a four-year hiatus, his friend Kris Smith revived Day’s passion. The two worked on the car one day a week for the next few years, completing all the small things. Good friend William Salazar helped Day tow the truck to Maryland for the interior work. Once the truck was back home, Day parked it in the garage again for two more years.
The Unicorn finally hit the road—spirited, muscular, and shiny. It first appeared, as if by magic, at the annual Northern Showdown Custom Car and Truck Show in Waterloo, Ontario. Everyone’s jaw dropped the minute Day took the Toyota off the trailer and made the show rounds. It had taken more than 16 years to complete it, a task most builders would have given up on. But Day was determined not to let The Unicorn roam until it reached the height of perfection.
Inside the Build
Year/Make/Model: 1989 Toyota Hilux
Owner and City/State: James Day, Mississauga ,Ontario, Canada
Club Affiliation: None
Front Suspension: Custom tubular Beyond Sic chrome-plated upper control arms, 8-inch Chrome Pro Hopper cylinders.
Rear: Total Cost Involved Chrome 4 link. Custom flamed Beyond Sic bridge plates. 2 pump Pro Hopper La Series Hydraulics with hardline. Custom Beyond Sic battery hold down, 12-inch Chrome Pro Hopper cylinders.
Engine: 2.4l 22r car bed engine. Chrome valve cover, air filter. LC Engineering Billet dress-up kit. Custom CCF billet battery hold down.
Body: 3-inch bodydrop. sliding ragtop, custom sheet-metal bed. Sir Michaels roll pan, Hagan Hidden fuel door, front inner wheelwell tubs, billet insert for the grill. Body work and paint performed by Casual Customs. PPG Charcoal Silver paint
Interior: Billet specialties Stiletto steering wheel, window cranks. Lokar inside door handles. LC Engineering billet shifter knob. Factory seats and interior wrapped in black and moss green ultra leather by Brad and Sam Wurzbacher of Driven
Fabrication & Upholstery in Maryland
Stereo: Clarion CZ702 deck, JL Audio 12w3 sub, Focal Polyglass 5-inch component set. PPI Power Class Chrome amps. PC2400 and a PC4100. Wirez sound Deadner and interconnects.
Wheels & Tires:
Wheels: 18x7, Rozzi Detentions.
Tires: 215/35/18, Kuhmo
Special Thanks: “everyone in Sinfull Creations, David Mackinnon and everyone who helped me over the years to finish it.”
Photo 7/7   |   02 1989 Toyota Hilux Left Side