Photos by Juan Trevino
A Highly Detailed Father and Daughter Toyota Build
Family is a very important part of Japanese culture. But once a child turns 18, they’re expected to leave home and make their own way in the world, taking with them the lessons and knowledge learned from their parents. Part of this love and knowledge passed down in Hitomi Okazaki’s family from her father Tadaharu is a love of custom mini-trucks. Hitomi loved the movie Lilo & Stitch when she was growing up, especially the Stitch character, and she collected a lot of memorabilia from the film. When she was still in high school, her father bought this ‘91 Toyota Hilux. Hitomi noticed that the color was very similar to Stitch and she was instantly fascinated by the mini. Although she couldn’t drive yet, she asked if she could have the truck. Her father quickly agreed and began to customize it for her while she went to driving school. The goal was for the family to build a clean and highly detailed custom mini-truck together, featuring Stitch’s colors and theme.
The first step was the Toyota’s suspension. Tadaharu body dropped the truck 3 inches. Art of Work, Inc. in Chiba tackled the creation of a brand-new back-half using 1/8-inch tubing. The factory rearend was retained, but a TRD limited slip was added for more performance. The link bars were set up, but rather than go the usual route, a polished stainless steel heart-shaped wishbone was crafted, to symbolize the love between a daughter and her father. Hydraulic cylinders were used to remotely mount the Firestone airbags in the bed that was covered in plush Stitch dolls. Up front, Belltech drop spindles and Firestone ‘bags were used with Wilwood four-piston brakes for optimal stopping power inside of the 18 x 7.5-inch Dante Vertigo wheels and Pirelli 215/35R18 tires. An aluminum fuel cell was created to finish things off before plenty of paint and chrome work were done to complete the highly detailed suspension work.
One aspect that the custom truck scene in Japan has borrowed from its tuner crowd is performance-built and highly detailed engines. This mini is no exception. A 3S-G 2.0L Altezza motor, backed by a manual six-speed transmission and plenty of goodies, was dropped into the pickup. First, the oil pan was made from scratch to gain ground clearance. The engine was painted candy blue and dressed up. A Greddy turbocharger and sub-computer were added to finish things off and put some high performance into the mini.
On the outside, Hitomi was set to match the truck’s colors to Stitch, but first some mods were in order. A newer front end was added, along with a 4Runner bumper. Out back, a Grant Kustoms roll pan was installed and the door handles were shaved. Tadaharu mixed up the custom Stitch blue and sprayed the truck in a subtle two-tone. Ghost then came in to add the graphics and pink pinstriping. Finally, keeping it old school, the Fascination Minis logo, complete with Stitch motif, was hand-painted on the back glass by Sign Effects. On the inside, Recaro bucket seats were wrapped in gray suede along with the dashboard and headliner. Custom Dakota Digital gauges were used behind a Billet Specialties steering wheel and a custom center console was made. Alpine audio gear finishes things off.
Hitomi was speechless when she first saw the completed truck. Thanks to her dad and his friends, she drives it everyday, hitting up as many car shows as possible.