One surefire way to get noticed is to do things differently. Take the road less traveled, and that’ll make all the difference. In the truck building world, it’s easy to go with a tried and true formula with a popular truck that has a huge amount of aftermarket support. And we don’t blame anyone for that, but we also have respect for builders who step outside the comfort zone and perform modifications that are not readily available off the shelf or out of a catalog.
This ’08 Tundra was built to perform out in the dirt, but designed to look good while it was on the pavement. That’s why the owner, Tim Grachen, built it. Plus, he loves the look of the newer Tundra. So much so, that he performed a ’14 grille and fender swap. “My truck is mechanically a tank,” Tim says. “The engine is rock solid, and the long travel set-up makes it just swallow the bumps and whoops. But that grille swap was not easy, as there is no real kit for it, and I had to make a bunch of brackets.”
| This ’08 Tundra was heading to SEMA 2017, so we knew we had to add some style. This set of black-backed, projector headlights with U-bar, LED-powered headlights and matching black taillights from Anzo were step one of our exterior makeover. For those of you saying that these headlights are the ’14-’17 style, you would be right. Our Tundra had a front-end conversion and also sports ’14 front and rear fiberglass fenders.
This ’08 Tundra was heading to SEMA 2017, so we knew we had to add some style. This set of blackbacked, projector headlights with U-bar, LED-powered headlights and matching black taillights from ANZO were step one of our exterior makeover. For those of you saying that these headlights are the ’14-’17 style, you would be right. Our Tundra had a front-end conversion and also sports ’14 front and rear fiberglass fenders.
We also want to show that with a few simple additions, a truck can take on an all-new look. So follow along with us as we give this ’08 Toyota Tundra a full exterior refresh.
| Part two of our plan was adding some AMP Research powered steps. Our Tundra is a weekend desert rat with long-travel suspension and a lift of about 4 inches with Camburg lower arms, as well as a beefy set of 17x9 Vision Manx wheels wrapped in 37x12.50R17 General Grabbers. The Amp Research steps will make entry and exit of the cabin much easier.
| But first, we visited the talented folks of Daley Visual in Rancho Cucamonga, California, for a fresh wrap will make this Tundra stand out on the SEMA show floor and give the exterior a fresh look. The truck was first stripped of its door handles, rear-view mirrors, window seals, grille, headlights, bumper, and the front and rear fenders. All just to make the wrap installation as professional as possible.
| Before any vinyl could be laid down, the entire truck had to be cleaned, which is a vital step in the wrap process. Of course, the truck was washed normally—but not waxed—before it came in. Josh Daley went over everything using his special technique to remove as much dirt as possible.
| Daley ripped into our Tundra, pulling out large sheets of custom-printed 3M vinyl wrap. The wrap’s intricate design had to be matched from door to door. He had to peel up and start over when the design didn’t match. Handling these small details are what sets Daley Visual apart from other wrap shops in SoCal.
| The bottom foot of the wrap listed all the sponsors’ names and had to be absolutely straight, as it carried over from the front door to the rear. The cab was handled first due to the fact that this area needed the most attention. The top of the wrap had the tricky design, and the bottom had the sponsor area.
| The name of the game in wraps is to convince the inherently flat vinyl to conform to complex curves. It is a flexible material, and a little heat goes a long way. The door handle divots were wrapped over, then torched, and cut to shape, just like all the other non-flat surfaces on this truck.
| The fiberglass fenders were removed and cleaned like the painted areas, but ’glass is tough to wrap. It flexes too much when on the table and has to re-installed first to be properly wrapped. Plus, fiberglass is rougher than paint and doesn’t offer a uniform surface for the wrap to stick to.
| The fender edges tend to peel due to the strain from flexing, as well as wind turbulence. To ensure that it didn’t happen, Daley applied a coating of 3M Primer 9, which creates a better surface for the vinyl to stick to.
| With the fenders cleaned and reinstalled, the headlight pockets were cut out, which meant more heating and cutting. Daley must have gone through 20 X-acto razor blades during this install. Once cut, they fold the vinyl over the edges to keep the wind from peeling it back.
| The roof presented a different problem. The seams had to be hidden in the doorjambs. However, these extra efforts are standard for Daley and his crew. It did require two people to position the wrap correctly.
| The aftermarket hood with its ram-air inlet was no match for Daley. He just laid down the wrap, added heat, and cut where he needed to. The blue smoothing paddle in his hands was an integral part of the arsenal.
| After the truck was wrapped, front and back, Daley decided to add a 1-inch stripe just above where the gray and black met. They matched the red as closely to the custom Candy Red powdercoated Vision Manx wheels as possible and gave the overall design a subtle pop of color.
| And with that, our day at Daley Visual was done and our Tundra was one-third of the way transformed. The wrap looks great in the sun and will stand up great under the lights at SEMA.
| We took the Tundra back to the Truckin Tech Center to install the headlights and steps. The headlights were first, so we had to first remove the grille. We removed the upper tabs with a body clip removal tool and then the upper screws.
| For this particular set-up on our Tundra, we had to loosen, but not remove, the off-road-style tube bumper from the framehorns. We pulled it a few inches away from the framehorns, to be able to remove the upgraded grille and set it off to the side.
| The ’14 front-end swap on our ’08 had added these trapezoidal-shaped lower body panels under the headlights, which had to be removed to get the headlight out. They were wrapped in a similar fashion as the fenders behind them.
| Unfortunately for our truck owner, Tim Grachen, his conversion had added aftermarket headlights, which were still newish. He would have to be remove them and sell them, possibly on Craigslist or EBay. Three screws were removed, and it was ready to be pulled off.
| Here is the new Anzo headlight going in. Note how we recycled the bubble wrap it was shipped in to protect it. Econo! We reconnected all the electricals, and it was ready to be installed.
| They screwed down the headlight and reinstalled the lower body panel, too. Our headlights were done, and it was now time to move to rear.
| The taillights were infinitely easier than the headlights. All they needed to do was remove the top and bottom screws, and it popped right out. Although, we had to remove the off-road-style rear bumper first.
| The directions wanted us to unclip the new ANZO tails ballasts, remove the red tape to expose the adhesive, and stick them to the inner rear fender wall. We chose to keep it all intact and mounted the ballasts to the taillights themselves. Our Tundra spends some time in the dirt, and we felt it was safer that way.
| The taillights were screwed back in and looked damn sharp, too! The back backing matched the truck’s color scheme like we planned it that way. We reinstalled the rear bumper, and we were ready to move on to the AMP Steps.
| Our ’08 Tundra had started its (stock) life with a set of side steps that had long since been removed, so our first order of business was to unbolt and flip the brake line bracket so the steps would not interfere with their installation or movement.
| Moving to the engine bay, we had to find a safe place to install the control unit. We chose the upper driver’s side corner behind the hood strut and secured the unit to the factory-wiring loom with the provided zip ties.
| We clipped in the main wire harness to the control unit and connected the red power lead to the battery and the black ground lead to the relocated ground location, off the battery on the driver’s side of the engine bay.
| We split the wire harness into two sides to provide power and control the steps on either side of the truck. The passenger loom was routed along the firewall and zip tied in place. We also had to route the driver’s side loom under the truck outside the framerail to meet up with the motor and linkage assembly that we will install later.
| Each step is controlled by one motor connected to the linkage. We plugged in the power cable and installed the linkage. Once connected, AMP provides these form-fitted plastic covers to protect the motor from road grime and water.
| Here, we finished the install of the four linkages that operate the steps. On each side you’ll see a motor linkage assembly and an idler linkage assembly. The great part about these linkages is they fit into the pre-existing factory holes from the stock side steps, which were removed long ago.
| The steps themselves mounted to the linkages and had an adjustable rail mount, which allowed us to install the steps loosely, adjust them a little, and bolt them down when we were happy with their positioning. This kit came with a set of LED lights that we chose not to install. The truck already had LEDs under the cab.
| All that was left was to get power to our steps. The ’08 Tundra has a rubber grommet on the driver’s footwell that we routed the wire through. We pulled up the sill plate, removed the kick panel, pulled the carpet, and the grommet was located. After that, all that was left was to plug the wires into the OBDII port, and we were done!
| And just like that, we transformed a clean prerunner into something much more show worthy. The lights, steps, and wrap are the epitome of form and function.