What it took to get our Tacoma with a MOD camper ready for the Baja XL Rally

Like the Joe Cocker song, we had a little help from our friends.

Just a few weeks ago we had a mainly stock 2016 Toyota Tacoma SR5 that was getting a MOD camper fit to it for the Baja XL Rally. While the Tacoma is a great truck, it would be taking a big risk to trust a stock truck to complete this rally. If you read our previous blog, you’ll understand what events like these demand from a vehicle.

The Baja XL Rally is a race that challenges your navigating ability, not speed. We needed to outfit our Tacoma with everything necessary to best traverse the desert landscape, day and night. At first we focused on the suspension and tires with a lot of help.

RadFlo and Total Chaos Fabrication hooked us up with the suspension, Upper Control Arms (UCA), and even some spindle gussets that look like they can take a real beating. One problem with the Tacoma is the limitations you have with the stock UCAs, and if you do any suspension upgrades the ride will be real rough without changing these out so you can best adjust the caster and camber.

Calling our friends at Arc Flash LLC they helped get these new parts installed and dialed in. Our local Les Schwabe dealer provided 17” Raceline Defender wheels wrapped with Open Range AT tires. The larger than stock wheels are needed to clear the Total Chaos Fabrication spindle gussets.

Next we turned our focus on body protection, and for this we looked to our friends at Metal Tech 4×4. Bringing them the truck, they beefed up our taco with a Blackbird front bumper and some rock sliders. They use finite element analysis (FEA) to make sure their products have strength where it is needed most, without making these products so heavy you need chassis reinforcement just to carry them.

Our MOD camper was going on next, and we decided to test our next gen mounting system. This new rail system takes even less time to install or dismount the camper from your truck than our first version. The crew had the camper mounted on the truck in a matter of minutes, and it utilizes the factory chassis bolts on the Tacoma, so no drilling, turnbuckles, or other unreliable connection is needed.

Finally it was time to focus on the power system, and it needed to support communications, navigation, aftermarket lights and other devices we are planning to run in the cab. Since the MOD has a second battery in it, we didn’t bother with a third battery under the hood. Vision X sent us a new light to try, which can be amber or clear and has multiple lenses for distance and flood. Removing the rear seats we hooked up a power inverter with multiple ports to charge our gear that we will be using during the rally. In the cockpit we mounted a Garmin Montana and a HAM radio with CB channels, so we can communicate to our caravan and the rally organizers.

Overall we think the Tacoma came together quite nicely, and in just enough time for our trip to LA for the start of the rally. Thanks to all our friends who supported this build!


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