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1998 Toyota Tacoma - Straight Outta SoCal

If you're a fan of old school, west coast gangsta rap, you'd recognize that the titles of this story are plays on classic N.W.A. tracks. Please don't sue us Dre, we're merely taking a minute to reminisce with this month's cover truck owner, Chris Caruso, about the influences that have played a part in building what many simply refer to as "the hip-hop truck".

"Music is the bond that brings this all together. From heavy metal bands like Slayer to DJ Magic Mike (the real Magic Mike) and Ice Cube", comments Chris of the true inspiration behind his Toyota build. "The paint tells a story of a time when self expression came in so many forms from skateboarding, freestyle BMX, graffiti, and above all for me, bass music." Although Chris is listing off the things that shaped his youth, he didn't forget to mention the driving source of that has fueled the last 23 years—his life experience through the progression of custom minitrucks. "I picked up my first issue of Mini Truckin' off a magazine rack at a local grocery store in 1989. So much has happened since then, brick cell phones turned into iPhones, chrome fender trim and radical ground effects and static drops are now ‘bags and bodydrops, and double diamond dancing beds went to … well, I'm still waiting for dancing beds to come back into fashion."

1998 Toyota Tacoma too Short

Photo 3/16   |   1998 Toyota Tacoma too Short
Now, this truck could've been finished a long time ago, but Chris joined the Navy in 1992, got married, started a family, and building a magazine worthy truck proved to be the least important thing on the priority list at times. "Bouncing around from San Diego, California, to Atsugi, Japan, Corpus Christi, Texas, and back to California, all in the name of Uncle Sam, making progress, or even thinking of it, became out of reach." Luckily, Chris held onto his truck as well as a decades-long dream to one-day see his build through. "Over the years of being a loyal reader of this magazine, I've seen trends come and go, watched who was building the best, and teamed up with them and took my style and morphed others' from the past and I got what you see here—my representation of the OG streets. I built this truck true to the roots of the old style."

And after any long journey, one can't help but glance in the rearview and take in the view of the ground that's been covered. And Chris is the type of guy who knows where he's headed, and is well aware of where he's come from. "I can't take credit for what you see here. It took a lot of dedicated people and shops around Southern California to make it happen. At times, I wish I was able to do all this myself, but if I did the bodywork and paint myself, well let's just say you wouldn't be reading this right now. Now that this dream is coming to end so to speak, I have one word to pass down to the next generation—respect. Respect yourself, your ride, the ride parked next to you, and the people and clubs you spend time with across the country. This lifestyle will be here for years to come if you master that.