Yes, you read the header correctly, and no, we aren’t referencing one of the Seven Dwarves. Sleepy is the deceptively appropriate nickname for our 2004 Toyota Tundra Access Cab SR5. While you may be chuckling and wondering why on earth we didn’t hop on the Taco train, there exists a method to our madness (always). The 2000-2006 Tundras are continually overlooked for overlanding and we’re here to give them the spotlight they deserve.
Right now the overlanding industry is obsessed with 4th Gen 4Runners that have a 4.7L V8 and Lexus GX470s, and they’re popular for good reason. These vehicles are light, nimble, and offer a great power-to-weight ratio. But how do you harness these traits if you’re looking for a little more versatility, like a pickup? This is where a Tacoma won’t fit the bill. Aside from the well-known lack of power and payload, its price tag would cut into our after stock play money. The Tundra on the other hand knocked our wish list out of the park.
Within mere inches of the newest Tacomas’ length and width, a stock Tundra features the desirable 4.7L V8 and after adding air bags on the back, its weight capacity is close to that of a ¾ ton truck. The Tacoma leaves us wanting with a mere 3.5L V6 and ½ ton truck rating. Not to mention, the starting price of a used pre-modded Tundra is less than half that of a new Tacoma, leaving us more than pocket change for the fun stuff. Like installing a TRD Super Charger that rivals the same horsepower and torque of modern 5.7L Tundras. I think the kids call that FTW, but I just call it For The Win.
TACOMA VS TUNDRA
|2016 TACOMA||2004 TUNDRA|
|212” L x 75” W x 71” H||218” L x 77” W x 71” H|
|3.5L V6 | 278 HP||4.7L V8 | 235 HP*|
|4,305 lb||4,450 lb|
|3,500 Towing Capacity||5,300 lb Towing Capacity|
|1,295 lb Load Capacity||1,475 lb Load Capacity|
Of course we didn’t overlook the pitfall of buying a used vehicle. Patience and tenderness is certainly required. Sleepy had 195k miles on the engine so she underwent a full tune-up. We took her to our local Toyota dealer who flushed and replaced all fluids, hoses, the timing belt, and performed a complete trans/t-case service. A compression test showed all cylinders at 185psi (192psi is the max for brand new). The service put the drivetrain back to as close to new as possible. We also chose to do things like install new OEM headlights and replace the original cloth bucket seats with a set of leather electric heated seats because why not? We had the budget!
The really fun stuff that would give Sleepy her namesake came shortly after. In addition to the good time upgrades, Sleepy would also be our shop’s primary event vehicle and would need to become a easy-to-transition dual purpose platform, accommodating a roof top tent living or a Four Wheel Camper. It would take us pages to run through all the details, so here’s a quick snapshot.
As we all know, Sleepy will naturally continue to evolve. But for now she’s the workhorse of our shop and an impressively unassuming rig making those younger dudes on the trail take a second glance.
While Sleepy won't be on display at Overland Expo West this year, our other two projects--Monster and MF200--will be tour-ready, so come visit us at Booth #15 and RSVP below for our annual party. We can't wait to see you.