You think you defied the mainstream that time you painted your own valve cover, or later when you sticker bombed your rear windshield. It turns out you deviating from the herd is more difficult than any of that, and it'll take more than some used, Japanese-only armrest you scored to get noticed. Legitimate deviation, it seems, has less to do with an old armrest you and a couple thousand rare parts aficionados all think is cool and more to do with you being more like Miles Shinneman. And by being more like Miles Shinneman, we're talking about you going out and putting that armrest money toward something like a 25-year-old delivery truck.
Commuting around in a wheeled box designed for transporting things like loaves of sourdough will never make you cool and Miles has the answer. Cool points are instead awarded by way of lopping off and chucking that roof and four walls and turning that one-bedroom apartment mover into an AE86 Corolla-hauler with livery to match.
It's the two-vehicle arrangement that makes Miles' situation work, and it starts with that early-'90s Isuzu mover. "I kept seeing these Isuzu NPR box trucks [showing] up for cheap," Miles says about his tow vehicle search that went from diesel trucks to enclosed mattress haulers. "I figured I could build a ramp truck and fund the whole thing by selling my trailer," he reasoned. "[But] when I got the truck, I went a little wild and decided it needed to look cool as well as function, so the teardown and rebuild started." According to Miles, that AE86 of his and that box truck were never supposed to coordinate with one another like they have, but by his account "the lines matched up and it all just happened to come together."
About that AE86; Miles will be the first to tell you of the condition he found it in and how he rescued the $500 Toyota from a creek bed and filled with some 50 pounds worth of mud. Junking the Corolla's original carbureted four-cylinder for the elusive 3S-GE BEAMS engine and Alteeza gearbox he swapped in was the obvious decision. The not-so-obvious move was Miles' fabricating all of its aero from steel instead of the sort of composite materials you expect things like front spoilers and side skirts to be made from. "[I] was sick of fixing fiberglass on my last drift car," he puts it, "so I built the full metal body kit."
The metalwork makes its way onto that Isuzu box truck, too, and in a big way. Get past the hydraulically operated tilt deck Miles fashioned in his driveway with its remote-operated winch and you'll begin noticing details like the truck's chopped-down doors, its lopped cab, and those hand-made fender flares that've been molded into the body. Stare at the whole thing long enough and you just might make the mistake of thinking Miles does this sort of thing for a living and you'd be sorely mistaken. "[My grandpa] was always building or working on something," he says about the man he built a sand sailer from scratch with, and who he inherited his first fabricating tools from. "Those tools were the spark that got me moving on my own tool obsession that allowed me to start my fabrication life," Miles says. "If it wasn't for my grandpa, I wouldn't have ended up a fabricator."
Both the hauler's and the Corolla's talking points go beyond their custom-fabricated bits, though. Like the Isuzu's diesel engine, for example, that was ditched for one of GM's LS-based, small-block V8s, also known as the Vortec 6000. Even the truck's suspension was updated by way of air bags all around, all remotely controlled with Air Lift Performance's 3H air management system. The Corolla's underside has been shown love, too, with Megan Racing coilovers and Techno Toy Tuning knuckles, control arms, and the company's four-link conversion.
Talk with Miles and you'll know that something like that box truck conversion he calls the "Baller Hauler" was inevitable. "I've always customized my rides," he wants you to know. And by customized rides he's being modest. Miles' automotive archives are full of things like chopped Isuzu Rodeos and Toyota Tacomas on hydraulics as well as more drift-able specimens, like that AE86, and still more sedate varieties, like an Infiniti Q45 positioned on more than 16 degrees of negative camber. But something like that Baller Hauler, that was never meant to be. "The [Corolla] was for sure going to be a drift missile," Miles says. "The NPR was supposed to be a tow truck; it wasn't supposed to look all fancy—just beat-up and rusted...a POS that would haul things like my Rodeo."