Toyota Tacomas & 4Runners Crawl Over & Through a Ghost Town

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Tough Toyota vehicles make it over and through the challenging terrain of SoCal’s Odessa Duran Loop.

Toyota builds its trucks and SUVs the way it does just in case the going gets a little rough. The owners of the Toyotas shown in this video from YouTuber Alex Busta built his rigs a certain way because he knew the going was going to get rough.

Alex and his pals take their third-generation Tacomas and fifth-generation 4Runner out to the Odessa Duran Loop near the Calico Ghost Town in Southern California. They’ve come prepared for serious wheeling. Alex’s Tacoma is equipped with a three-inch lift and 35s. All of the rigs feature hardware an offroad vehicle needs, from steel replacement bumpers to auxiliary light bars to grippy rubber to sliders to jerry cans. They look the part of serious trail machines and they sure as hell play the part convincingly.

yotatech.com Toyota Tacoma and 4Runner Offroad

These Toyotas also prove that sometimes less is more. A few of the passes through the rocky loop are narrow and lined with large, paint-ruining chunks of stone on both sides. Alex and his buddies slowly creep through them without getting hideous, chalky scrapes on their fenders and doors. If they had taken on those sections of the trail in larger vehicles, such as a Tundra or Sequoia, they would’ve had to turn around and look for wider paths.

Whatever amount of money Alex and his friends put into their Toyotas, it was worth it. The Tacomas and 4Runner flex and compress and claw their ways over, around, and through the rough landscape. They don’t make the journey without suffering injuries, though. At times, the vehicles’ enhanced offroad angles aren’t enough to keep a bumper from getting rock rash or a license plate from getting mangled. The Odessa Duran Loop is definitely tough, but in the end, the Toyotas are tougher.

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Derek Shiekhi's father raised him on cars. As a boy, Derek accompanied his dad as he bought classics such as post-WWII GM trucks and early Ford Mustang convertibles.

After loving cars for years and getting a bachelor's degree in Business Management, Derek decided to get an associate degree in journalism. His networking put him in contact with the editor of the Austin-American Statesman newspaper, who hired him to write freelance about automotive culture and events in Austin, Texas in 2013. One particular story led to him getting a certificate for learning the foundations of road racing.

While watching TV with his parents one fateful evening, he saw a commercial that changed his life. In it, Jeep touted the Wrangler as the Texas Auto Writers Association's "SUV of Texas." Derek knew he had to join the organization if he was going to advance as an automotive writer. He joined the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA) in 2014 and was fortunate to meet several nice people who connected him to the representatives of several automakers and the people who could give him access to press vehicles (the first one he ever got the keys to was a Lexus LX 570). He's now a regular at TAWA's two main events: the Texas Auto Roundup in the spring and the Texas Truck Rodeo in the fall.

Over the past several years, Derek has learned how to drive off-road in various four-wheel-drive SUVs (he even camped out for two nights in a Land Rover), and driven around various tracks in hot hatches, muscle cars, and exotics. Several of his pieces, including his article about the 2015 Ford F-150 being crowned TAWA's 2014 "Truck of Texas" and his review of the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider, have won awards in TAWA's annual Excellence in Craft Competition. Last year, his JK Forum profile of Wagonmaster, a business that restores Jeep Wagoneers, won prizes in TAWA’s signature writing contest and its pickup- and SUV-focused Texas Truck Invitational.

In addition to writing for a variety of Internet Brands sites, including JK Forum and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, Derek also contributes to other outlets. He started There Will Be Cars on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube to get even more automotive content out to fellow enthusiasts.

He can be reached at [email protected]

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