Cutting the body off the Tacoma took an entire day as we removed the cab in sections. The proper structural supports need to be left behind, or places to fabricate new ones have to be taken into consideration. We could have easily plasma-cut the cab off the floorpan to save time, but then we would have been left with fabricating new structural panel supports.Cutting the body off the Tacoma took an entire day as we removed the cab in sections. The Resurrecting Our '01 UA Tacoma has been hard work, but also a lot of fun. It had been rolled and flopped on its side a few times so there's lots of fun damage to repair. The Taco still runs and wheels great, but the cab has been mangled almost beyond recognition. Our options for repair were to replace the cab with a fiberglass body, scrounge up a salvaged cab, or skin it with sheetmetal. We decided on the sheetmetal because it's far more economical, and sheetmetal panels are much easier to replace, as they will likely be damaged again. This conversion turned out to be a weeklong endeavor, as the Taco's old cab was removed and the new sheetmetal body panels were taking shape. The hardest part of the truck's reconstruction was cutting off the body and straightening the crumpled floorpan and rocker panels. Once the cab was removed, making templates and properly lining them up for fitment was easy. We're not professional autobody guys, so we approached this job as a "learn as you go" challenge. But the staff here are all hands-on guys, so give us some tools and something to fix, restore, or break, and we'll get it done. Once the old cab was removed, the edges of the floorpan were cleaned and straightened in preparation for welding. The rear edge of the pan and the truck's rocker panels will be used to support the lower edge of the sheetmetal panels.Once the old cab was removed, the edges of the floorpan were cleaned and straightened in p The easiest way to get the shapes for the sheetmetal body panels is to make paper or cardboard templates. Because of its rigidity, cardboard is much easier to work with than paper, and once templates are made, it's easy to lay them out on the sheetmetal and cut new panels. The templates save time and money, because it's easy to make mistakes when trying to shape metal freehand.The easiest way to get the shapes for the sheetmetal body panels is to make paper or cardb There are a number of ways to cut sheetmetal, and some are definitely more efficient than others. We tried pneumatic and electric sheetmetal shears from Harbor Freight, and even though they used the same principal to cut, the electric shears were far easier to work with and produced a cleaner cut.There are a number of ways to cut sheetmetal, and some are definitely more efficient than Like the fine art of Origami, templates can get very intricate. This template only took a few minutes to make and helped shape the rocker-panel cap. Luckily after cutting the sheetmetal out, we had the use of a sheetmetal brake to form the bends.Like the fine art of Origami, templates can get very intricate. This template only took a Even though the Taco has been beaten up, we didn't want our work to look like a complete hack job, so some of the sheetmetal work had to look just right. After being cut out and bent, our rocker caps were put in place and then welded in. The finished cap in the righthand photo may not look like much now, but once it's primed, painted, and coated with truck bedliner spray, it will look close to a factory finish.Even though the Taco has been beaten up, we didn't want our work to look like a complete h To fasten the sheetmetal to the 'cage and other parts of the Tacoma's body, we used these weld-in fabrication tabs. These are a generic-brand tab that can be purchased online or at just about any fabrication supply shop. We used these tabs and cap-head Allen bolts to secure the sheetmetal, rather than Dzus fasteners, which would have cost around $150 for all of the new panels.To fasten the sheetmetal to the 'cage and other parts of the Tacoma's body, we used these Around the rocker panel we used a nutsert, which works similar to a pop-rivet gun. Installation is simple; a hole is drilled in the sheetmetal, then the nutsert is placed inside. Once the nutsert is in place, a bolt can easily be screwed in and removed when needed.Around the rocker panel we used a nutsert, which works similar to a pop-rivet gun. Install With the Tacoma's new side panel in place, we worked on the back panel, driver-side panel, and cab roof. We had a Lexan windshield lying around, so we'll use that up front. The UA Taco is really turning out to be a buggy, but that's OK, as it still runs the trail like an $80,000 crawler. We spent approximately $175 for all of the material needed to reshell the Taco with 16-gauge sheetmetal, but this tally also included all tabs, fasteners, primer, and rattle-can paint.With the Tacoma's new side panel in place, we worked on the back panel, driver-side panel, By Kevin McNulty Enjoyed this Post? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, or use your favorite social media to recommend us to friends and colleagues!