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OWNER / WORDS / PHOTOS: JONATHAN ALONSO

Born in Mexico, I grew up enjoying the outdoors, from going mountain biking every weekend to camping trips with my parents. So, I wanted my kids to have the same experiences as me, but in our own way. I own GoGoldDesigns, and we do custom designs, logos, stickers, and have now also started offering vinyl wraps in the Houston area. My plan is to have a full-running shop by the end of the year. I have been fortunate because my friends support me by recommending me to others and also letting me do wraps on their own vehicles. I love camping, so this came naturally for me to be able to share similar experiences with my kids, and hopefully their kids in the future. Being a part of this community and lifestyle has really opened business opportunities like our vehicle wrapping business, which has allowed me to create great friendships with people throughout the US, and has allowed me to create amazing partnerships with other brands as well. In my opinion, kids will not remember what toy you bought them last month, but they will remember the trip that you took four years ago. Being able to unplug and go as a family is what is most important for me. My kids play competitive soccer, so they really don’t have time to be playing video games much, but I still prefer for them to go out and explore life outside of soccer and enjoy time as a family. As far as my automotive background, I have always found myself modifying my vehicles, no matter what they were. From my MK2 GTI to my Chevy Corrado, my Evo 8 to my first-gen 4Runner – all of them have been built to my liking.It all started with an Instagram group called @weekendoffroad that I started following. I joined them on one of their excursions and I was hooked after my first trip. I have a great career in finance. It’s not exciting and I have formed great relationships with my clients, but I needed more in my life. I chose the handle @more.van.ever because it was a point in time that I decided to live a little. I did not want to regret not taking my kids out on adventurous trips and camping. So we needed this, “more than ever.”

4RUNNERS 4LIFE My fifth-gen Toyota 4Runner is the first real off-road build that I’ve done, and I love it. This was the intention when buying the fifth-gen; I knew I wanted to get into off-roading. But I never would have imagined it would have taken me this far in the game. My first Toyota was a third-gen 4Runner that came with a 3” lift and 285s that I loved. Then I got a fourth-gen model that I managed to leave stock somehow. Now, with the fifth-gen that I have, I’ve completely modified it. But I can’t forget about my first-gen that I love…It was one of my favorite cars ever. Now, I just have the first-gen and the fifth-gen versions. The previous ones have been sold since I was upgrading to the next one. If I could go back, I would love to have my third-gen back. It was the perfect mix between the comfort of a more “modern” vehicle with the raw feeling of a 5-speed manual transmission.

Ever since the first 4Runner TRD PRO came out in 2015 in that Inferno Orange color, I fell in love with them. And once I was able to finally afford one, I didn’t hesitate. I was originally trying to find a 2017 Cement Gray TRD PRO 4Runner, but they were selling for more used than new models! So, I ended up with the Cavalry Blue after lots of calling and searching for one available without markup from dealers ( even they were marking them up to $10-15k over MSRP). Even though the fifth-gen is the one I’ve put most of the modifications into, the first-gen is still my favorite edition; just like my license plate says “first-gen is the best gen.” Being able to remove the roof, the 5-speed manual, no electronics… it just gives a much different driving experience that’s so raw. But I do not want to start cutting it all up really, doing too many crazy things with it. I want to leave it as “stock” as possible for as long as possible. Let’s be honest, I know myself, so eventually I’ll go a little bit crazy on it also. But for now, let’s say that (lol).

 

A LEARNING CURVE I’ve never been one that just throws the checkbook at the vehicle to just build it without really knowing why I’m changing that part. I have always been the one that first learns the vehicle’s capabilities and once I’ve surpassed them, then I upgrade it. It’s better to learn and know why something is needed than to just get it because other people get it. I’ve been lucky to be involved in this community in a way that has allowed me to build relationships with amazing partners along the way like Ironman4x4, Alpharex, Toyo Tires, Dirt King Fabrication, Rigid Armor and a few others that I’ve showcased in my build. I do 99% of the work myself, but there are a few shops that I would trust like TEQ Auto Solutions, owned and operated by Jeboost (as everyone calls him). The only custom parts I have added aren’t really “custom parts,” but cuts to the body for high clearance. I was one of the first to do the high-clearance front bumper cut, or “viper cut” as they now call it. I also trimmed my fenders to be able to fit the 37s without rubbing, and have also cut my rear fender in a way that maximized the departure angle. There weren’t any major challenges except having to buy a product twice sometimes. Even though I went through different setups, they have always been what I needed at the time. However, as my skill and demand on the 4Runner grew, I then had to upgrade that part again as a result.

 

I’ve added so many things to the 4Runner that I love, but if I have to highlight a few of them, they would be:

•  The Ironman4x4 270-degree awning and its ability to open up in seconds since it’s free-standing and it’s a game-changer.
•  The Velox Offroad gull wings because I love not only the way it changes the look, but also the versatility to have quick access to much-needed items.
•   The Dirtking Fabrication Long Travel suspension is amazing. It’s like if you are riding on clouds, and it helps keep all four wheels on the ground while off-roading.
•   Toyo Tires MTs in 37s. I think they should all come stock with 37” tires!
Next will be upgrading the gears to 4.88s, adding a front locker, and I’ll also do a 3-link rear suspension upgrade with 14” coilovers.
RESOURCES & RESEARCH My most memorable trip would be our fi rst big trip in the rig, which was two weeks of doing nothing but off -roading with friends in diff erent states that we visited. We did SoCal trails with the amazing SoCal Crew, then headed over to Colorado and Utah with another set of friends; it was just amazing and it’s what got us hooked into this lifestyle. I live in Houston, TX, so everything is fl at here. My favorite trail is anything with mountains. I love Utah and California; those are probably my favorite places to go off -roading. There are just so many diff erent trails of all skill levels. My most challenging trail as of now is doing Hell’s Revenge at night and seeing nothing but pitch-black cliff s. That was scary, and I almost camped there that night (lol). This year, I will hopefully be doing the Rubicon Trail, Cliff hanger, and a few other “hard” trails that I’m excited about. When planning a trip, I usually look at the trails that we will be doing, and I first see if my rig is capable of handling that terrain with what I have. I get everything ready months ahead of schedule to make sure I test it here before I drive 2,000 miles away from home. It’s better to break it nearby where I can fi x it than out on a trail.
On harder trails, we always go in a group. That way, we can help each other out, which is what I would say is the most important thing. Always try to go with someone you trust. What I love about this community is that if you do break down and someone passes, they are always willing to help even if you have never met before. Always make sure you tell someone you trust where you are going and when you are expected to return, take extra food, water, gas in case something happens. Be safe but have fun, it’s all about creating memories in
a way that is safe not only for you but the environment as well. I believe that anytime you go anywhere always leave it cleaner than how you found it.

TECH SPECS_ 2018 TOYOTA 4RUNNER TRD PRO

WHEELS/TIRES

• 17×9, -25mm offset Summit Off-Road DAKAR wheels
• 37×12.5×17 Toyo Tires Open Country MT
• Performance
• CSF radiator
• K&N air filter
• Pedal Commander
• Remmen Brakes slotted rotors w/high-performance pads
SUSPENSION
• DirtKing +3.5 long-travel suspension
• Custom Spec Long Travel King Shocks w/ adjusters
• Eibach 14” 700lbs front springs
• Dobinsons 701v rear springs
• DRT Fabrication body mount relocation kit
• TXTR Customs 1” body lift
• Marlin Crawler HD LCA frame brace
• Total Chaos spindle gussets
ARMOR
• Ironman4x4 full skids
• RSG Angle Sliders with kick out
• Lil BS fabrication bumper
• SDQH Fabrication ABS protectors
• Total Chaos rear link skids
• Rigid Armor swing-out tire carrier
• FJToyman rear shock guards
• Custom GoGoldDesign high-clearance fender cut
• Custom GoGoldDesign high-clearance rear bumper cut
EXTERIOR MODS
• Velox Offroad Gullwings
• FTS snorkel
• SnorkelUpgrade Pre-cleane
LIGHTING
• Alpharex Nova Series Headlights Jet Black
• Alpharex Luxx Series LED tail lights Alpha Black
• Ironman4x4 5×7 Roof Rack Spotlights
• Ironman4x4 5×7 Bumper Spotlights
• Ironman4x4 3” Fog Lights
• Ironman4x4 3” Ditch Lights
• VicOffroad Scene Lights
• VicOffroad Chase Lights
• MESO Customs Dual Color LED
Interior lights

TECH SPECS_ 2018 TOYOTA 4RUNNER TRD PRO

RECOVERY GEAR

• Ironman4x4 12k Winch w/ synthetic line
• Ironman4x4 Heavy Duty off-road recovery kit
GEAR STORAGE, ORGANIZATION, ROOF RACK, BED RACK
• Ironman4x4 Locksafe Twin Drawers
• FrontRunner Slimline II Roof Rack
• Velox Offroad Molle Panels
• Gobi ladder
ELECTRONICS, COMMUNICATION, IN-CABIN ACCESSORY MOUNTS
• Midland MXT400 MicroMobile Radio
• Switch-Pro Control Module
• CTH T9 Android Headunit
CAMPING GEAR
• Ironman4x4 XTR-143 270 Degree Freestanding Awning
• Ironman4x4 XTR-143 3 Piece Wall Kit
• Ironman4x4 Swift 1400 Hard Shell Rooftop Tent
• Camp Kitchen Gear
• Ironman4x4 Dual Zone Fridge
• Ironman4x4 Fridge Slide
• Waterport water tank
MISCELLANEOUS GEAR
• ARB Dual Air Compressor
• SponsorByWifey Air System in all 4 corners
• Guardian Safe and Vault Center console safe with electronic lock
• Husky All-Weather Floor Mats
• Canvasback Cargo liner protectors