The Recreation of a Mini-Truck Legend

Hop with us into Mr. Peabody’s Wayback Machine as we set the dial to January 1993. While it might sound like a random date to revisit, a lot of notable things went down that year. Bill Clinton was sworn in as the 42nd US President, the Buffalo Bills became the first team to lose three consecutive Super Bowls (ouch) and, most interestingly for truck enthusiasts, a certain 1989 Toyota pickup graced a certain magazine, which burned its place into the memories of many of us. The pink-colored truck in question went by the name “Ballistic,” and it was absolutely slammed to nearly an inch or two off the ground—and the magazine, of course, was issue #23 of Mini Truckin’. This truck was far ahead of its time in the early ’90s for many reasons, and it has since earned its place in history as one of the most iconic mini builds ever. 

We tried to get this homage cover shoot as close to the original cover as we could—and as you can see, it’s spot on.

While that original Ballistic Toyota built by Pat Nicholl of Southern California was one to watch out for at shows and in print back then, it slowly vanished out of sight as the years passed. There is much speculation as to what actually happened to it. A common and most believable theory is that it was largely parted out, and what was left of its carcass was eventually scrapped. Whatever the case may be, there was nothing left of it to be salvaged or brought back from whatever undeserving fate it faced.

This truck was far ahead of its time in the early ’90s for many reasons, and it has since earned its place in history as one of the most iconic mini builds ever. 

CHALLENGE ON

Many fans of the truck have since toyed with the idea of building an exact replica for the sake of doing it—which could’ve been pulled off if the right assortment of parts and accessories could be tracked down. This proved to be the toughest part of that challenge, especially in finding a set of the notable wheels it rolled on. Talk about a make-or-break situation!

While there is certainly a lot to consider before jumping into a tribute build such as this, there was simply too much of a reward on the table to NOT take a chance on making it happen. Randy Frederick of Umatilla, Florida, weighed out the pros and cons and ultimately decided to take on the challenge of recreating one of the most recognizable custom trucks in history.

“I have been collecting parts for this build for roughly 10 years,” Randy admits. “Once the pile got big enough and there was a physical truck to put them all on, the only natural next step was to dive headfirst into the build. I didn’t realize it until after I got started, but I quickly realized nothing would come easy during the project. Everything had to be done twice, hence the fitting nickname 2Ballistic. Luckily, my wife Sara, my daughter Lindsay, and her boyfried Wayne Shupert were there to support me the entire way through.”

GOTTA LOVE FRIENDS

Randy did not have a great initial experience with a shop that shall not be named, so a group of good friends rallied together to assist in getting the truck’s progress back on track. Nick Daily, Eric Foelber, and Steve Hansen helped to perform a bodydrop early on in the process, which was one of the original Ballistic Toyota’s big claim to fame. The upper and lower control arms were then narrowed before Belltech drop spindles and Air Lift Dominator front ‘bags were installed. At the rear, a wishbone link setup and 2600 Dominator ‘bags were assembled before the entire system was plumbed to dual Viair 480 compressors and a Chad Criss manifold valve.

These custom one-off 18-inch Colorado Custom wheels were built to look like the Ronal R9 wheels from the original truck in 1993.

With the Toyota sitting low just like its predecessor, the next major component to add was the only correct set of wheels that could grace it. Randy was able to finesse a set of one-off 18×7 Ronal R9 reproduction wheels through the help of Colorado Customs. This was a huge victory in the future success of this epic recreation.

The next phase of the build zeroed in on rebuilding the truck’s original 22RE four-banger. Fred Hebron joined the project at this point to properly go through the ’91 engine and then updating it appropriately. The OEM intake manifold and fuel injection system were good enough to leave in place. LC Engineering headers and a custom exhaust setup were then married and routed through the frame.

To clean up the appearance of the engine, the upper and lower intake manifolds were fully polished, as was the valve cover and water neck, and the inclusion of a fresh aluminum radiator helped in completing the 22RE’s refreshed look and performance. A set of inner fenders were then installed and painted to help keep everything under the hood as clean as can be (yes, this version of Ballistic does feature a functional hood). Even if this truck were displayed without one, there would be no room for complaint as the bay has been detailed to full show-worthy specifications.

RASPBERRY PINK PLUS

The paint is another huge characteristic that made the original Ballistic truck so unique. While it most often generalized as being “pink,” the actual paint used on Randy Frederick’s current Toyota is 1973 Porsche Raspberry. Eric Foelber is responsible for applying the somewhat obscure paint color to the truck’s exterior surface, and the result is incredible. To further replicate the styling of the original Ballistic truck, Randy was able to secure polished stainless fender moldings and chrome mirrors, and the OEM grille and front bumper was still good enough to reuse. To update 2Ballistic just a bit, a new set of Holley Retrobright LED headlights and pink LED underglow lighting were wired up to add extra excitement to nighttime cruising sessions.

Interior work was the next major expenditure where Randy would invest time and money. Matt Reynolds, owner of Charm City Upholstery in Severn, Maryland, hopped aboard the project at this point by covering Toyota 4Runner bucket seats in supple Italian leather skins. The rest of the paneling and German square weave carpeting was also taken care of to tie the interior environment together. To fully push the cabin space to the limit, Chris Lancaster fabricated a killer center console that was soon stuffed with two Kicker subwoofers.

The beauty of running a hard camper shell is being able to make use of the extended interior space, which was also maxed out with a full plexiglass box built by Matt Reynolds. It has since been outfitted with four more subs and pink lighting for a truly old-school take on placing audio components on full display. The assortment of Kicker amps in the back only validates that aesthetic. Oh, and don’t overlook that one-off Ronal steering wheel that matches the actual R9s! Randy did not fumble the ball when it came to orchestrating a truly all-star collaboration of skillsets showcased throughout his Toyota’s interior.

Not only is 2Ballistic a worthy tribute to its ’90s-era namesake, but it also serves as a “what-if” glimpse at how the original truck could’ve looked if things had been done just a little bit differently back in the day. Granted, the stakes have been raised with mini-truck builds since then, and this current rendition of a groundbreaking truck unveiled to the world just over 30 years ago only demonstrates how far the progression has come.    


TRUCK SPECS

OWNER

Randy Frederick 

  • 1991 Toyota Pickup
  • Umatilla, FL
  • Negative Camber

ENGINE & DRIVETRAIN

  • 1991 Toyota 4-cylinder 22RE 2.4L
  • Built by Fred Hebron, Halethorpe, MD
  • OEM intake manifold and fuel injection
  • LC Engineering headers and Big Bore throttle body
  • Custom 2 ¼-inch exhaust
  • Polished upper and lower intake manifolds, valve cover, water neck, 3-row aluminum radiator
  • 320-amp Quality Power alternator
  • 1991 auto transmission
  • Summit Racing transmission cooler

CHASSIS & SUSPENSION

  • 1991 Toyota frame
  • 2×3 boxed behind front clip, fully powdercoated Hammered Silver by Eric Nash, Mt. Airy Coatings, Mt. Airy, MD
  • Air Lift Dominator 2500 and 2600 ‘bags
  • Drop shocks
  • Belltech drop spindles
  • Bodydropped 2 ¼ inches
  • Narrowed upper and lower control arms
  • Rear wishbone link setup
  • Frame modifications and suspension installation by Nick Daily, Eric Foelber, and Steve Hansen, Westminster, MD
  • Chad Criss air management
  • Two Viair 480 compressors

WHEELS, TIRES & BRAKES

  • 18×7 Colorado Customs one-off Ronal R9 wheels
  • 215/35/18 Nitto Neo Gen tires
  • Little Shop BBK 6-piston Wilwood front brakes, Little Shop rear disc brakes
  • Wilwood master cylinder media burnished

BODY & PAINT

  • 1973 Porsche Raspberry B.A.S.F paint provided by Kevin Carroll and Mark Greenlee
  • Paint by Eric Foelber, Littlestown, PA
  • Paintless Dent Removal by Paul Davis at Dentz, New Market, MD
  • Bodywork by Chad Gill, Eric Foelber, and Matt Reynolds
  • OEM chrome grille and bumpers
  • Holley Retrobright LED headlights
  • Polished stainless fender moldings
  • Pink LED lighting under truck
  • Grant Fab roll pan
  • Shaved antenna

INTERIOR & STEREO

  • Toyota 4Runner bucket seats
  • Italian leather upholstery by Charm City Upholstery, Severn, MD
  • Painted dash by Eric Foelber
  • Dakota Digital air gauges
  • Colorado Customs one-off Ronal steering wheel to match wheels
  • Kicker Audio Resolution 5.25- and 4-inch speakers, 8-inch SoloBaric subs in center console, four SoloBaric 10-inch subs, 50si amp, two 100si amps, two 200si amps
  • Eclipse head unit
  • Custom full plexiglass box by Matt Reynolds
  • Center console by Chris Lancaster @ The Garage, Orlando, FL

 

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