This is one of those happy, feel-good stories that we all love to hear. Heather Elsken is a rarity in our world, a woman who knows her trucks and who has owned several very cool ones. Her current ride, a '95 Toyota Tacoma that has been revamped twice and has already been featured in both July and Dec. '01 issues of Sport Truck, crossed our path once again, looking better than ever. Of course, we had to get its new paintjob, interior, and wheels on film, and once you read the story behind her mad dash to the photo shoot, you'll understand how great the folks in this sport truly are. Here's an abbreviated version what she had to say:
"I almost didn't make my photo shoot. Mike arranged the shoot for 5 p.m. at the hotel, after my truck was judged at Showfest. My boyfriend Joey and I left the show at 3:30 p.m. to head for our hotel and clean up the truck. There was plenty of time to get back, clean up, and meet Mike for the shoot. I followed Joey in his '61 Impala down the bumpy, downtown road to the hotel, and when we got there, he said we had a problem. He pointed out the missing marker light from my truck's valance.
"So, off we went in the Impala, searching for my missing light. We found it on the side of the road at the railroad tracks, but someone had already run over it. The lens was broken and parts were missing. I knew I needed a new light, so we frantically searched all over town for a truck like mine to borrow a light from. We were circling the local mall when in drives a really nice, custom truck like mine. I walked up to the truck with my broken light in hand and proceeded to ask these complete strangers if I could borrow their light, while telling them I had a photo shoot in 15 minutes. The guy in the truck looked at me and said OK, but he pointed to the woman in the truck and said I'd have to ask her.
"I looked at her and her custom truck with its nice wheels, roll pan, and slick paint, and could tell that she babied it. I spilled my story and said, 'Please, please, let me borrow your light.' She said, 'Got a screwdriver?'
"We traded lights and cell phone numbers, and off we went to meet Mike. We got to the photo location at exactly 5 p.m. and Mike got cracking, taking the photos just as the sky opened up and poured rain, thunder, and lightning on us. I made it. He finished the photo shoot just as the weather got really bad. I returned the light to Nikki, the owner of that nice Tacoma from Louisiana. She showed me her truck and talked of how much she loved it. I thanked her, and she said she'd be on the lookout for this feature. So, let me say it again. Nikki, thank you, and you have an awesome truck!"
Don't it just make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside?
Owner/location: Heather Elsken / Grenada, Mississippi
Year/make/model: '95 Toyota Tacoma
Engine/drivetrain: 2.4L four-cylinder / five-speed manual / Hot Shot air intake, Tri-Y header / K&N filter / Bullet exhaust system installed by Billy Ryals at Ryals Muffler in Grenada, Mississippi / Hose Techniques silver silicone hoses / TRD oil and radiator caps / EL Prototypes polished valve cover / chrome-plating by Gary Lofton of South Haven, Mississippi
Wheels/tires: 18x7-inch TSW Rib rims with 42mm offset / 215/35R18 Toyo FZ4 tires
Suspension: (Front) flipped ball joints / Air Lift second-generation 'bags on custom weld-in mounts / Doetsch shocks / relocated Suspension Tech sway bar / (Rear) Air Ride Technologies chromed parallel four-link / custom tubular crossmember / 5-inch step-notch / raised fuel tank mounts / twin nitrogen cylinders / 3/8-inch copper hard lines / ITT valves / powdercoated stock rearend and black-painted chassis
Fabricator: Eric and Matt from Kustomwerks in Union City, Tennessee
Body Mods: Trenz phantom billet grille / factory 4x4 front fenders, bumper, and valance / '01 Tacoma mirrors / molded tailgate and roll pan combo / shaved front corner lights, antenna, hood squirters, door handles, and cab seams / custom sheetmetal bed cargo area / front and rear wheeltubs / underside of bed coated in Rhinoliner by Grenada Rhino Linings
Bodywork: Kustomwerks, Eric Arrington, Ronnie Boatman
Custom Paint: Painted DuPont 1974 VW Guinea Blue, House of Kolor Candy Apple Red and Silver Metal with Micro Flake by Ronnie Boatman
Interior: Factory 4Runner bucket seats, covered in Opal Gray and Galaxy Blue leather / Dashboards Plus carbon-fiber dash panels / Billet Specialties flamed steering wheel / custom carbon-fiber gauge pods / flamed window tint by Scott at Tennessee Tint in Bartlett, Tennessee
Upholsterer: Interior by the late Tommy Cordel of C&C
Audio/video: Custom audio pods and speaker enclosure / Alpine CDA-7977 head unit / Boston Acoustics pro 5-1/4-inch component speakers in the doors, 6-1/2-inch components in the rear, Pro 12-inch subwoofers / Autotech 1,000-watt amplifier / Optima YellowTop battery
Installer: Joey Realmuto of Grenada, Mississippi