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SEMA 2004: 'Maya Hunter' Expeditionary Vehicle Aids Archaeologists

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Specially Equipped Toyota Tacoma and Yamaha Rhino Helping Re-Write History of Ancient Civilization

A team of Maya archeologists from Vanderbilt University 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 transport the archaeologists 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. "We chose the name 'the Maya Hunter' after Hunahphu, a mythical Maya hero, as the patron spirit of our truck. Having the specially built Maya Hunter Toyota Tacoma and the Yamaha Rhino will boost our ability to discover the most remote jungle 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.

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; 3M Co.; 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; and Industrial Tire Products.

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Toyota Tacoma 4x4 Double Cab with TRD Off-Road Package

Engine: 4.0-liter DOHC EFI V6

  • 24-valve aluminum block and aluminum alloy head with VVT-i
  • Torque: 282 lb-ft @ 3,800 rpm
  • Horsepower: 245 hp @ 5,200 rpm (stock)
  • Modification: Borla cat-back exhaust system with high-flow muffler
  • Estimated horsepower: 260 hp

Transmission: 5-speed automatic overdrive

Differentials: 4.56:1 Precision gears; ARB Air Locker (front) and TRD electrically actuated rear differential lock

Brakes: Power-assisted four wheel anti-lock brakes (Toyota vented 12.5" front rotors and 10" rear drums)

Brake Assist and Electronic Braking Distribution

Downhill assist control (DAC) and vehicle stability control (VSC)

Suspension: Front coil spring independent double wishbone with gas-filled shocks and rigid rear leaf springs

Modification: Skyjacker 3-inch lift with SkyKing coil-over front shocks and coils and custom-tapered rear leafs

Wheels: American Racing 16x8 Teflon-coated Victors (jungle use) and 16x8 ProComps (highway)

Tires: 33x10.50-16 Interco Swamper Boggers (jungle) and ProComp 265-75R16 All-Terrains (highway)

Towing Capacity: 6,500 lbs. (equipped with V6 Tow Prep Package)

Yamaha Rhino 660 4x4

Engine: 660cc, 4-Stroke Single, 5-valve SOHC, Liquid Cooled with Fan

Transmission: Yamaha Ultramatic v-belt w/all-wheel engine braking, Hi, Lo, N, R

Brakes: Front: Dual hydraulic disc, twin pistons. Rear: Hydraulic disc, shaft mounted

F/R Suspension: Independent double wishbone, 7.3" of travel w/5-way preload adjustment

Tires: Front AT27x10-12 NHS

Rear AT 27x10-12 NHS

LxWxH: 113.5" x 54.5" x 72.9"

Wheelbase: 75.3"

Ground Clearance: 12.1"

Bed Capacity: 400 lbs.

Towing Capacity 1,212 lbs.