Video: Wreck to racer – a rebuilt Tacoma

ByDean MellorMay 18, 2020
Video: Wreck to racer – a rebuilt Tacoma

Yep, the Unsealed 4X4 team has been watching videos again, and now we’ve dug up this one showing a bloke with no car-building experience who managed to turn this trashed Toyota Tacoma into a desert-racing replica.


This US-based video tells the story of Sam Webster’s salvaged Tacoma, which he bought from a wrecking yard – sight-unseen – for $12K and then taught himself how to rebuild it.

“I thought I could really build something special if I bought a wrecked truck… and save a huge chunk of money,” explains Sam. “Even though it sounds nuts, to buy something that doesn’t run, doesn’t drive and you can’t even pull it because the front suspension was just destroyed, I knew that I could turn it into something crazy.”

And crazy it is, with a Raptor-style front-end, bulging guards and cool matt-grey wrap.

Tacoma Fixed 3

Sam admits he had little to no experience when it came to rebuilding a wrecked vehicle, but he says he did a lot of research into crashed Tacomas before settling on this one, trying to figure out what components are most commonly damaged when a vehicle like this has a front-on crash or has been rear-ended. In fact, Sam spent two months researching vehicles before this one popped up on an auction site… and then he had just one hour to make up his mind before putting in the winning bid.

“This truck, I could see that it was slammed down at the front and it was listed as non-running, non-driving, and I had heard that if you put the lift kit that sits on top of the struts and you don’t make the bump-stops bigger, if you go to full compression you actually break the struts in half, and so I was looking at it and I thought ‘I bet that’s what happened’.”

Sam had the salvage yard take some video of the front-end and sure enough the problem was as he suspected, so he decided he could sort out the issues.

Tacoma Wreck 1


The Tacoma cost Sam $12,000 and when he got it home he pushed it into his driveway and started to strip it down to assess the damage. He then straightened it with a Come Along Winch anchored to a tree and rebuilt it to its original state to get it road-legal again before the customisation began.

During the build Sam threw a few pics up on Instagram and before he knew it the original owner of the Tacoma was in touch with him. The cause of her crash? She fell asleep at the wheel at close to 80mph (that’s nudging 130km?h!), went through a couple of fences and about ¼ of a mile (400m) across a field.

Today the Tacoma runs a Dirt King long-travel race kit with a paired-with a 2.5-inch inch King shock with remote reservoir and adjusters while the rear-end is currently stock. Rims are 17 x 9 Fuel Vectors and the tyres are BFG A/T KO2s.

Giving the Tacoma a much wider and more aggressive stance than standard are a set of fibreglass guards with a six-inch bulge, while there’s a Raptor style front grille and lights behind the C4 Fabrications front tubular bar. Oh, and to finish it all off Sam wrapped the whole truck in matt grey… by himself.

Tacoma Wreck 4

Sam reckons he’s put between 550-600 hours into the Tacoma. “It was nights, weekends and holidays, every spare second that I had went into the truck,” Sam says.

So what did it end up costing him? As it sits now Sam says he’s thrown about $28K at it, so he’s below what he would have spent on a stock truck… and damn proud of the outcome.

If you like the look of this Tacoma there are plenty more you can check out on the Tacoma Beast YouTube page.