At first glance you might be forgiven for thinking that Nathan’s truck is just a nice example of another Toyota Hilux in Australia – you “might” be forgiven. Such is the beauty and well executed simplicity of this build that it doesn’t scream at you with loud paint and crazy mods, but to take a second glance, you can see it for what it truly is, an extremely subtle and intensely detailed labour of love! Nathan Hawkins from Queensland, Australia started building this 1997 Toyota Pickup well over a decade ago, which has given Nathan the foresight to create what you see here; something classic and timeless and one of the best examples on the Australian custom scene today.
Photos: Avit “Toast Graphics” Chauhan | Words: Steve “Chance Photos” Berndsen
However, Nath’s Toyota wasn’t always this shining beacon of light in the small but growing custom truck scene down under. As with anything that gets started more than 10 years ago, trends and ideas change, along with the personal taste and style of the owner. Many different versions came to pass at one time or another over the last decade with some of the more notable mods that have been changed to include; hydraulics, suicide doors, and an RX7 IRS setup – all past mods that didn’t fit the bill for this final vision.
Nathan realized through all of these changes that he was no longer building something he wanted but rather something that others wanted. Finally at East Coast Cruise in 2012 Nathan was given the motivation from close friend and owner of Mex’s Garage, Ben Thorne, to get in and build the truck how he wanted it built and not for anyone else! So with an idea and a plan set forth they attacked the build with earnest to create a truck worthy of the 12 year journey.
As she sits now your eyes are left free to sweep across her slender curves and notice the super clean Intro Billets tucked up under the guards and pick up the distinct contrast of the red painted chassis against the simple custom mix silver metallic paint which cloaks the rest of her body. Chassis and body mods include a stock-floor bodydrop over a custom rear clip and 4-Link built by Ben from Mex’s Garage. Slam’s up front and Ridetech Shockwaves in the rear help keep the frame on the ground whilst still giving great drivability when paired with the Dakota Digital air management system.
A classy front end is made up of USDM Tacoma headlights and corner lights with a billet insert sitting atop a Grant Kustoms bumper (the first of its kind in Australia at the time) and hovering over it all a very distinctive bulge in the bonnet which hides the detailed Lexus Quad-Cam V-8 that gives this beast her get up and go. That’s right, this isn’t just a “low and slow” show quality build, this is a full-on beast when the pedal is stomped! Not afraid to be driven either, Nathan has made the trip North in his truck to attend the annual Wrong Turn Cruise held in Rockhampton 600kms (400 miles) away over the last 2 years along with all the road trips him and his two kids Mady and Tate enjoy as often as possible.
Although Nathans truck may have taken awhile to get to where it is today, as the old saying goes it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey that truly matters. We here at Slam’d Mag were thrilled to be able to release the exclusive feature to such an awesome addition in the Australian minitruck scene, which is quite obviously still alive and kicking with no signs of slowing as yet. Stay tuned for more of our worldwide features as we continue to bring you the best from around the globe.
Owner: Nathan Hawkins
Vehicle: 1997 Toyota Hilux
Hometown: Queensland, Australia
Club: Ground Level Minitrucks and Customs
Front: Slam SS7 ‘bags, CanDo upper and lower arms
Rear: Ridetech Shockwave struts
Two Viair 440s
Dakota Digital air management
Full rear clip and 4-link by Ben at Mex’s Garage
Z’d the front one-inch with a flat gearbox crossmember
Brakes: 330mm front rotors
Shaved: wiper cowl, tailgate, rollpan and a few other factory annoyances
Chrome door handles, Tacoma headlights and corner lights with custom insert
Sheet metal bed floor with clear access panel
Grant Kustoms front bumper
BF xr8 bonnet (hood) scoop
Metallic Silver paint by: Twin Towns Panel Repairs
Custom Recaro seats
Shaved dash with Dakota Digital gauges
The trim is leather wrapped or painted
Performed By: North Coast Custom trim
JVC headunit all the way back from 2001
1UZFE quad-cam Lexus V-8
2.5-inch custom exhaust
Custom Hilux rearend
Autronic ECU and deleted traction control
Special Thanks from Owner:
“So many people have helped me along the way, Ben from Mex’s Garage, Kane from Komited Kustoms, Jas from Twisted Metal, Big V for wiring it up, Guy from Twin Towns Panel Repairs, Cam from North Coast Custom Trim, all of my Ground Level family, these guys have always been there with support and advice along the way and of course the most important person is my beautiful wife Shannan. She has always stuck with me and supported this build, and I wouldn’t want anyone else by my side, along with my kids Tate and Mady, they love going for drives and they really respect the truck, and anyone else who played a part in helping to bring my dream to life.”