Nick White’s 2002 SR5 Tacoma Build

Toyota Tacoma Overland Build With Aftermarket Fog Lights and Raptor Lights

Nick’s 1st Gen Tacoma Is Proof You Don’t Need To Break The Bank

Welcome to this week’s Walkaround Wednesday! I’m super stoked to introduce Nick White, the owner of today’s build. It’s been incredible to see Nick’s enthusiasm for overlanding and all that he’s poured into his 2002 Taco.

What I love about this build is that it shows that you don’t need every fancy product and “cookie-cutter” mod to be a part of this community we call overlanding. Through patience, some used parts, a little bit of DIY skills, and a couple of buddies with the right tools, you can have your own build with the same functionality and capability as the rigs you see scrolling through Instagram at a fraction of the cost. Keep reading to see how Nick turned this first gen Tacoma into his dream truck.

If you missed last week’s post, check out Jesse’s 3rd Gen Tacoma build.

Vehicle Walkaround

1st Gen Tacoma With Inspired Overland IO Lightweight Rooftop Tent


  • Instagram tag: (@757tacoma)
  • Location: Virginia Beach, VA

Base Vehicle:

  • Year: 2002
  • Make and Model: Toyota Tacoma
  • Trim: SR5
  • Cab: Double Cab
  • Bed: 5 ft
  • Color: Smoke Grey
  • Mileage: 249,474


  • Cooper Discoverer STT Pro Tire, 285/75R16
  • OEM Wheels
  • SpiderTrax OffRoad 1.25″ Wheel Spacers
  • Bilstein 5100 Series 3″ Lift Kit
  • DIY Rear Diff Breather Relocation (DIY Guide)
  • Fully Rebuilt OEM Front Suspension (ball joints, tie rods, lower control arms)


  • Rear Swingout bumper (made from a modified ’90s Jeep Cherokee Bumper)
  • Trail-Gear Weld-On Rock Sliders
  • DIY High-Clearance Front/Rear Fender Trimming

    Lightning & Electrical:

    • Ditch Lights, Fog Lights, Roof Lights (purchased on Amazon)


    • ARE Truck Camper
    • Inspired Overland Lightweight Rooftop Tent
    • Basket Roof Rack (taken from Honda Civic)
    • Roof Rack on camper shell (taken from 2002 4Runner)
    • Yakima Q Towers & 48″ Cross Bars


      • Pioneer Touch-Screen Radio w/ Reverse Camera


      • Snorkel (purchased on eBay)
      • DIY Limb Risers
      • DIY Roll-On Paint
      • 5% Window Tint (all around)
      • Amazon Window Rain Guards
      • MagnaFlow Off-Road Pro Series Exhaust
      • RotoPax 1-Gallon Gasoline Container

      Tell Us About Yourself. Why A Tacoma?

      Smoke Grey 2002 Toyota Tacoma SR5 Overland Build

      What’s up! My name is Nick White; I am currently an assistant PE teacher at an Elementary School in Virginia Beach, VA. I chose the Tacoma platform because of the reliability on and off the paved road.
      I have dreamed of building a first gen 4-door Tacoma for about 5 years now, ever since building my first truck. The number of modifications you can make on a Tacoma makes the possibilities endless of how you want your truck to look and drive.

      How Do You Use Your Tacoma?

      1st Gen Tacoma With DIY High-Clearance Front Bumper & Fender Cut

      I use my Tacoma as a daily driver to and from work, and on the weekends, I will take it to the mountains or the beach to drive off-road. I don’t do any crazy rock crawling with the truck due to the size and it being my daily driver, but in the future, I may do a full suspension upgrade.

      One challenge I have had to overcome with the Tacoma is when I bought the truck from a previous owner, I didn’t know what they had/hadn’t replaced previously. It caused multiple issues not knowing what needs to be replaced ASAP or can be held off until further notice.

      Tell Us About Your Build Process.

      Budget Friendly 1st Gen Tacoma Overland Build

      The very first modification I did to the truck was a paint job, around 2 years ago. I could not stand the sun fade on the hood and roof, so I decided 2 days after I purchased the truck, I was getting it repainted the factory color. Next, I had a DIY bed rack made with a Smittybilt Roof Top Tent. From there, I started adding the basics: tint, ditch lights, bigger tires, awning, and Bilstein 5100’s.

      Almost everything I purchased was either from Amazon, Home Depot, or Facebook Marketplace trying to save as much money as possible. I bought tons of lights for about a year, then I finally purchased some Trail-Gear Rock Sliders and picked up a 90s Jeep Cherokee swing-out rear bumper off of Facebook Marketplace. My buddy fabricated the bumper to be able to fit the Tacoma while still being able to drop the tailgate with no issues.

      Do You Regret Any Mods?

      1st Gen Tacoma Simple Overland Build

      At this time, I regret both of the roof racks on the cab and camper shell. I was rushing to get mods onto the truck and I do not like how they look anymore. I would completely change them to higher-end roof racks that sit properly on the truck and then I would also be able to mount more things onto the truck.

      The cab roof rack is the Yakima Q Towers and bars with a Honda Civic basket and lights drilled into the basket bars. The camper shell roof rack is actually an OEM roof rack off of a 90’s Toyota 4Runner.

      What’s Your Favorite Mod? Least Favorite?

      Toyota Tacoma Overlander Rig On Sandy Beach

      Believe it or not, my favorite mod is my DIY $170 paint job. I rolled it on with a 3″ foam roller and $60 worth of Rustoleum paint from Lowes.

      My least favorite mod so far is my front roof rack over the cab… it just doesn’t fit clean and slick on the truck.

      What’s Next For Your Tacoma?

      Overlanding At The Beach

      My next mod for the truck will definitely be wheels! I have been putting them off for a long time and I believe it will completely change the look of the truck.

      Final Thoughts

      1st Gen Overland Tacoma Build With 33" Cooper STT Pro Tires 285/75R16

      If you ask me, this rig is a perfect example of what a true overlander is. You might’ve heard before that if overlanding is your primary goal, you should be spending more on your adventures (gas, maintenance, ferry fees, permits) than on the vehicle itself. Nick’s Taco is a perfect example of this idea; he has obtained everything he needs for his adventures and nothing he doesn’t, which frees up time and cost to be put toward the 250,000+ miles of adventure this Tacoma was built for.

      If you have questions about how Nick created any of these mods or just want to see how his build and adventures progress, head on over to his page (@757tacoma) and give him a follow. It’s amazing to see how different people are using vehicles as a basis for adventure and builds like this show that anyone and any vehicle can be a part of this awesome community.

      We’d love to hear your feedback on this series now that we’ve featured several rigs. Are there any specific rigs you want to see featured? What questions do you have for their owners? Would you like to see more content involving the 1st Gen Taco? Throw your responses in the comments and we’ll be back next week with another feature/interview!

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