Welcome to GulfCoastNews.com



Specially Equipped Toyota Tacoma and Yamaha Rhino

Helping Re-Write History of Ancient Civilization
Filed 11/3/04   Updated: 11/6/04


Editor's Note:   The following story is actually the result of two Long Beach, Mississippi, businessmen who combined their specialties to build the two special vehicles that are the focus of national attention.


The concept was the brainchild of Bruce Smith, Editor/CEO of Editorial Services, LLC. Smith was the project coordinator and will be the writer of articles that will appear in Off-Road Adventures magazine (650,000 circulation) related to the vehicles.


Warren Spears, owner of Spears Auto Repair, donated his shop and labor to help build up the 2005 Toyota Tacoma and 2005 Yamaha Rhino. Spears has helped with several other magazine projects, but nothing on this scale.


Both vehicles left Long Beach this past Thursday afternoon on a enclosed vehicle transport hauler for the trip to Las Vegas where they will be on display at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) trade show and then presented to Vanderbilt archaeologist, Dr. Francisco Estrada-Belli, who is presently residing in New Orleans.

LAS VEGAS (Nov. 3, 2004)  Vanderbilt University archaeologists received the keys to a jungle-ready 2005 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab 4x4 V6 pickup at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) trade show here today.


The customized truck, donated by Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A. and Off-Road Adventures magazine, will enable archaeologists from the prestigious university in Nashville, Tenn., to travel deep into the jungles of Guatemala as they explore Maya ruins dating back as far as 500 BC.


In addition, Yamaha Motor Corp., U.S.A., donated a Yamaha Rhino 660 two-person off-road machine, which will be towed on a trailer behind the Tacoma.  Introduced last year, the vehicle’s side-by-side configuration provides ample room for two archeologists and their tools.  With a liquid-cooled engine, fully independent suspension and push-button four-wheel drive system, it will allow easy access into the deep-jungle terrain where a smaller vehicle is needed to navigate narrow roads and tight trails.


            “These vehicles are the very best tools to face the challenging environment of our expedition,” said Dr. Francisco Estrada- Belli, assistant professor in Vanderbilt’s Anthropology Department. “Having the specially built Maya Hunter Toyota Tacoma and the Yamaha Rhino will boost our ability to discover the most remote sites, and in case of an emergency, may well save our lives.”   


The Vanderbilt archaeologists have already added new chapters to the studies of the Mayan civilization, making news worldwide. This special Toyota Tacoma expeditionary package will help further those endeavors as the group heads back to the Central American jungles in the spring of 2005.


“We’re privileged to play a role in this important project, which has more historical significance than anything we’re ever been involved with,” said Mark Amstock, TMS national truck and SUV marketing manager. “It’s another chapter in the continuing story of Toyota’s commitment to science education in America.”


Amstock explained that the 2005 Tacoma line is larger with substantially more passenger room, cargo volume and towing capacity than previous models. It’s also more maneuverable, more powerful and more fuel efficient. 


Vanderbilt’s specially equipped Tacoma was-named “Maya Hunter” by Off-Road Adventures magazine because of its intended use by archaeologists hunting for clues that will lead to a better understanding of the ancient Mayan civilization.


The magazine will be covering the Tacoma’s modification buildup in several issues along with reports of its progress on the maiden voyage into the jungles of Guatemala.


Modifications used to create the Maya Hunter center around the new Toyota Tacoma body style, chassis, 245hp 4.0L V6, and four-wheel-drive drivetrain debuting at dealers nationwide this month.


The stock suspension was raised three inches to maximize ground clearance and make room for the special-purpose mud tires needed to navigate the treacherous and muddy Guatemalan jungle roads. Locking differentials front and rear greatly increase traction ability, lower axle ratios accentuate the V6’s off-road power, special teflon-coated wheels keep mud at bay, and tubular sidebars and light guards reduce the chances that encounters with limbs, logs, and trees will do major damage. 


The Tacoma also features a custom bumper with a 9,500-pound-capacity electric winch, a plethora of off-road lights, communications/navigation gear, hand tools and other accessories that will enable the archaeologists to drive through the jungle environment safely and efficiently--and back again to their Nashville homebase.


Toyota factory roof and bed cargo racks, along with a new Tacoma bed-tie-down system, keeps the gear and supplies the archaeologists will be transporting to and from their remote dig site secure.


The “Maya Hunter” Yamaha Rhino 660 features a variety of Genuine Yamaha Accessories, including complete undercarriage armor and skid plates, front and rear bumper, wind deflector and overfenders to keep the elements at bay, aluminum sun top and a 3,000 lb. Warn Winch. In addition, a set of jungle-ready wheels and tires from Industrial Tire Products have been installed.


“Yamaha is honored to be a part of the “Maya Hunter” project,” said Mike Martinez, Yamaha’s general manager of ATV & SxS Operations. “The research taking place in Guatemala will impact future research and studies for generations to come.”          


The Maya Hunter expeditionary project package came as the result of Off-Road Adventures magazine soliciting contributions from a number of manufacturers. Its builders would like to thank the following companies that donated their products to help make this unique philanthropic gift a reality:


Toyota Motor Sales, USA; Yamaha Motor Corp., U.S.A.; ARB, USA; Skyjacker Suspensions; Optima Batteries; Sears/Craftsman; Warn Industries; Borla Exhausts; Pro Comp Tires; American Racing; Interco Tires; Rock Crawler Wheels; Precision Gear; Hella; Painless Wiring; Optronics; GoLight; PIAA; Hi-Lift; Powermaster; Eureka Camping; Midland; Motorola; Garmin; All-Pro Off-Road; Energy Suspension; Wrangler Northwest; Rhino Linings; Spears Auto Body; Molly Designs; Black Rhino Performance;  Forrest River Trailers; 4WD Specialist and Industrial Tire Products.   



Related news sources/links:

















Welcome to GulfCoastNews.com