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Why We’re All Still Talking About Tacozilla

No, Tacozilla is not the latest marketing stunt by Taco Bell. However, it’s been making waves in the truck camper community since the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show in November 2021. While many truck campers are on the market, there’s nothing like this. It has everything you could need to enjoy an epic adventure.

So what’s the deal with this beast? Let’s dive in and see!

"TacoZilla": SEMA FULL WALK AROUND

What Is Tacozilla?

Tacozilla is a fully-equipped overlanding camper ready for almost any adventure. The truck camper is a 100% custom Toyota Tacoma TRD Sports pickup. It’s a tribute to the Chinook campers that rose to fame during the 1970s and 1980s. However, don’t let the retro look and color scheme mislead you; this camper has many modern conveniences.

Tacozilla
Tacozilla still is talked about in the truck camper and overlanding communities today.
Source: www.nomadicnews.com

Does the Toyota Tacozilla Really Exist?

While there are many conspiracies regarding mythological creatures, Tacozilla is not one of them. This beast appeared at the 2021 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. As you might expect, it drew much attention. However, this wasn’t the only sighting of this work of art.

Tacozilla visited the Chicago Auto Show and New York Auto Show in 2022. The buzz around the vehicle was even more electric at these events as attendees wanted to see and experience it in person.

Toyota created the vehicle to show off its skills and the potential for its vehicles. Lisa Materazzo, Vice President of Toyota Division Marketing, said they made it for the “many owners who love overlanding and outdoor fun.” Marty Scwerter and the team at Toyota Motorsports Garage created it.

Pro Tip: Get the inside scoop on Are Toyota Tacomas Really as Good at Overlanding as They Say?

Where Did Tacozilla Get Its Name?

Many in the Toyota community refer to the Tacoma line of trucks as “Taco.” Tacozilla combines this nickname with the power and stature of the beast Godzilla. This giant reptile demonstrated strength as it ripped through Tokyo in the 1954 movie. 

The name Tacozilla communicates the camper’s status as the overlanding equivalent of Godzilla. It can conquer anything that stands in its way and is up for any adventure. It’s an overlander’s dream!

overlanding toyota tacoma
Tacozilla was built on a Toyota Tacoma. Properly equipped the Tacoma is a great lightweight overland vehicle.

Why We’re Still Talking About Tacozilla

Regarding Toyota Tacomas for overlanding, Tacozilla is in a league of its own. It created a stir in the community, and for a good reason. Let’s look at why we’re still talking about this truck.

Features

Tacozilla features everything you need for overlanding. The two-inch lift, beefy tires, and reinforced structure are features any overlander would appreciate. In addition, there’s plenty of space for four people to eat and sleep comfortably.

When we say it has everything you need for overlanding, we mean it. Tacozilla features a fully functional kitchen and bathroom with a sink, stove, and shower. You can live comfortably in this vehicle no matter where your overlanding adventures take you.

Capabilities

The Toyota Tacoma is a popular overlanding vehicle. Is it the most powerful or capable? Absolutely not. However, it’s not a vehicle that you should overlook. It has a towing capacity of 3,500 pounds and an optional V-6 engine to upgrade the towing capacity to 6,800 pounds.

Tacozilla comes with a 3.5L V6 engine and delivers 278 horsepower. The TRD suspension ensures a smooth ride even in rough terrain. Not only does this beast look good, but it performs well too! Being narrow and lightweight the truck has some advantages over larger overland setups on the trail.

Pro Tip: Find your ultimate overlanding rig at the Overland Expo: What, When, Where, and Why You Shouldn’t Miss It.

Interior of Tacozilla
The Tacozilla truck camper made for an epic overlanding camper.
Source: www.nomadicnews.com

Can You Buy The Tacozilla?

Unfortunately, you cannot buy a Tacozilla. This was a one-of-a-kind project by Toyota. Tacozilla will not be a mass-produced vehicle and won’t appear in dealerships. Toyota described the vehicle as “a special prototype project vehicle modified with non-genuine parts and accessories that may make the vehicle illegal to operate, void the warranty, and impact the safety and performance of the vehicle.”

While you can’t purchase Tacozilla, you can create one using a Toyota Tacoma as your overlanding vehicle. Unlike Toyota, stay within the specs and keep it street-legal, especially if you intend to take it on the highway.

How Much Does a Toyota Tacozilla Cost?

While we don’t know the exact cost of the Toyota Tacozilla, the MSRP for a Toyota Tacoma starts at $27,750. However, Tacozilla is not a stock, base-model Toyota Tacoma. It’s a fully-customized overlanding beast, which would significantly impact the expense.

If you’ve ever paid for custom work on a vehicle, it’s not cheap. The brains behind Tacozilla state they spent hundreds of hours working on this beast. The creation of Tacozilla easily cost well over $100,000 when factoring in the planning, materials, and labor.

However, as a piece of marketing material to attract attention to the Toyota brand, it did its job. It was likely worth every penny for Toyota. We’re still talking about it years later.

Pro Tip: Before you hitch up and hit the road, find out What Is the Toyota Tacoma Towing Capacity?

Tacoma with snorkel
While you may not be able to get your hands on a Tacozilla, you can still modify your Toyota Tacoma to have similar amenities.

Can You Build Your Own Tacozilla?

While you can’t buy a Tacozilla, nothing is stopping you from building one. However, this project is only possible if you have some DIY skills and a significant amount of money. In addition, you’ll need to engineer the vehicle to stay within its towing numbers. You should pay particular attention to its payload capacity.

Tacoma’s maximum payload capacity is around 1600 pounds. It will take some creativity and ingenuity to stay within this limit. You’ll need that creativity during the modification process if you bring equipment and a companion on your adventures.

Is it possible to build a Tacozilla? Absolutely. Will it be easy? Likely not. There are many engineering hurdles you’ll need to conquer during the process of creating your version of the Tacozilla.

Tacozilla Toyota Tacoma Camper SEMA Build

Tacozilla Is a Monster of a Truck Camper

Tacozilla pushes the envelope regarding the capabilities and creativity of an overlanding vehicle. Taking a stock vehicle like a Tacoma and turning it into an overlanding beast is an incredible accomplishment. We give props to the engineers behind the planning and execution of Tacozilla.

So while you won’t see Tacozilla rolling next to you in a campground, you might see it at the next auto show you attend. We can’t wait to see how competitors respond and what overlanding vehicles they create.

Where would you take Tacozilla on an adventure? Tell us in the comments!

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About Tom and Caitlin Morton

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of “Go North” on Amazon Prime Video, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for Hwy.co and an Arizona travel guide.

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