Video: Did We Build An Off-Road Monster – Or A Mess? Baby Yota Ep. 12

Images: TFLtruck

The upcoming video may answer the question – is our project Baby Yota an off-road monster?

Over many months, we’ve questioned if we could turn this old Tacoma into an overlander, much less an off-road monster. After trial and error, our tiny 2001 Toyota Tacoma started to shape up. During that time, it had an extensive engine rebuild and a ton of suspension upgrades. On top of that, we added a full complement of overlanding upgrades and beefy BFGoodrich KM3 Mud Terrain tires.

We finished everything off with beefy, off-road bumpers and a wrap that Ironman Stewart would approve of. Yep, we’re proud of the little guy, and all of this is for a good cause. Very soon, our finished Baby Yota project truck will go up for auction. All of the proceeds will go to our favorite charity, Mountain States Children’s Home.

Off-road monster shakedown

One thing you have to do after building an “off-road monster” is to give it a good shakedown, without destroying it. Tommy and Kase brought Baby Yota to Moab, Utah to one of our favorite ORV trails. “Fins ‘ Things” is perfect for mild off-road adventures that (usually) won’t destroy a vehicle.

We brought our trusty 2014 Toyota FJ Cruiser along to act as a chase vehicle. It also helps to have a vehicle to compare Baby Yota to. During this fin adventure, we learned a lot about our little creation. There is something to be said about the fact that the rear tow hitch is integrated inside the rear bumper. Normally, they hang underneath and we scratch them up about 90-percent of the time on this obstacle.

One thing absolutely rings true on this shakedown excursion, our suspension setup in Baby Yota is outstanding. Not everyone agrees that the bumpers (especially the rear) are the best, but the whole team loves them. It’s hard to find a better solution for approach and departure angles.

One final point: we kind of blew the budget on the engine rebuild, which is one of the reasons we opted to omit a locking rear differential. Fortunately, that little Toyota is light on its toes, and it has excellent grip.

“Off-road monster?” Nah, it’s mighty capable, but it’s better suited for overlanding – which was the whole point to begin with. Enjoy the video!

Easily amused by anything with four wheels, Nathan Adlen reviews vehicles from the cheapest to the most prestigious. Wrecking yards, dealer lots, garages, racetracks, professional automotive testing and automotive journalism - Nathan has experienced a wide range of the automotive spectrum. Brought up in the California car culture and educated in theater, childhood education, film, journalism and history, Nathan now lives with his family in Denver, CO. His words, good humor and video are enjoyed worldwide.