Thai people love using nicknames for one another. Not just because they are fun or flattering, but because nicknames can be incredibly useful. Traditional Thai names can be quite lengthy and difficult for Westerners to pronounce, which is precisely why Pattaraphan Tansiriwat goes by an incredibly common American name: Frank. We personally find this to be quite amusing, as this is the man responsible for the "Frank-enstein" Toyota pickup accompanying today's full-length feature.
Frank has been a tuner buff since early childhood, and the Bangkok native started down the aftermarket path like the rest of us: modding his personal vehicles and attending race events. This eventually segued into meeting some of Thailand's most influential enthusiasts, and, more importantly, the industry behind it all. Frank eventually became the owner of a service shop called Race Auto Tire Shop. Despite having a high-performance company name, day-to-day business is like any other service station that's open to the public and filled with appointments for brake jobs, suspension fixes, and oil changes. But while repairs and maintenance put Pad Thai on the table, the shop's ability to attract heavily modified cars has made it a Bangkok tuner staple as well, which brings us to the '91 Toyota HiLux Mighty-X seen here.
Frank has always admired this specific model of mini-truck, and, prior to Frank turning it into a full-blown Frank-enstein, it served dutifully as his daily beater. That said, when it came time to turn his cherished pickup into a show-stopping mutant, skepticism came flying from all sides. There was lots of speculation amongst the community that he had chosen the wrong chassis, but Frank remained headstrong in his belief that the Mighty-X was the way to go.
Frank's affinity for this particular pickup is conjoined with his youthful view of building automobiles and love for Nissan's Silvia powertrain. "When I was a kid," Frank muses, "I thought, Why don't we take parts we love and put them into a chassis we love as well?"
Fabricating entire portions of a chassis by hand undoubtedly took a lot of engineering foresight, patience, and skill. Frank reveals the biggest challenge was completing the project despite running a full-time business. Servicing customer cars has been-and always will be-the shop's top priority, and since a client's needs always come first, Frank's pickup sat in pieces for years. Also, part of the reason it took several years to finish was due to his decision to cram a Silvia subframe in the rear and a bulletproof 588-bhp SR20DET engine under the hood. "At first I considered using the BMW E30 subframe because it was similar to the original pickup subframe," Frank explains. "However, the E30 subframe did not have much wheel alignment adjustability. So, the Silvia subframe was chosen instead, which gives a wider stance and huge amounts of aftermarket support for adjustable arms and differential ratios."
On the side, Frank runs a gig that specializes in suspension called TunerConcept. This translated to one-off coilovers, custom suspension mounts, and a handful of adjustable alignment arms for the project pickup. In order to help revitalize the sagging chassis, extra rigidity was introduced via reinforcement braces in carefully selected locations and a tubular-framed approach to damn near everything else.
The entire engine bay was gutted and reinforced, as was the bed out back, which now sports a tubular layout to accommodate the Silvia rear subframe and the truck's pushrod coilover suspension. Being that it is so extreme, this truck ended up becoming a proving ground for a lot of TunerConcept components. As for the Mighty-X's styling, it's quite reminiscent of the '80s and '90s, with its brown and orange tones, Panasport wheels, and slammed, American mini-truck persona.
With the project now complete, Frank plans to use the little Toyota for an array of tasks, including marketing at car shows and horsing around at meets. We've heard he's not afraid to light up the rear tires and show folks the Mighty-X can drift. As for future mods, he tells us upgrading the SR's turbo is at the top of his list, especially since the current snail is maxed out and he feels the stout engine could handle more power. Guess you could say this formerly old and puny pickup is living up to the name "Frank-enstein."