When it came time for Pioneer to build a demo vehicle to showcase their products and their upscale Premier line, they turned to their long-time partner Cartronics. Based in Santa Rosa, CA the shop was in close proximity to Pioneer’s headquarters and the strategizing began to build a vehicle that would snap some necks at the annual Consumer Electronics Show. The guinea pig would be a 2008 Toyota FJ Cruiser, a car with all of the appeal and space that Cartronics could ever ask for.
The truck started out as your standard black FJ with the quirky white roof and cartoon-like markers and tails. The team decided that they would stick with the black theme but go with that much more of it. They would also build upon the inherent off-road characteristics of the FJ and make it much more capable on any terrain. They started out by contacting Donahue Racing who supplied the project with a Baja hood, flared front and rear fenders to form a wide-body kit. The suspension was lifted with the help of a Total Chaos system, featuring coilovers and triple bypass shocks and billet links. Everything was powder-coated in sinister gunmetal paint to a perfect finish. To haul the FJ up the steep hills, the power got a bump with a Magnaflow stainless exhaust and a K&N Typhoon intake.
The attention turned to the wheels, which were guaranteed to make an impression. A set of 17x8-inch OMF bead-lock wheels were added in black with gleaming polished outers. The bead-locks clamp down on 34x12.5x17-inch Goodyear MTR mudders that are ready for any obstacle. Visually, the truck was ready to roll but the assault on the senses from the multimedia system was only beginning.
“Knowing the vehicle was headed straight for IASCA judging after the build, we wanted the interior noise DEAD!” states builder, Dan Berry. “We removed the entire interior including the dash. I mean every single piece before Dynamat’ing.” The entire sheet metal skin was covered in three layers of Dynamat Extreme, while the hatch and the doors were covered in two layers to prevent stress on the hinges. A total of 14 packs of Dynamat were used and the truck was Dynamat’ed again after all of the wiring was laid.
The wiring phase involved having loads of Stinger HPM 12-gauge speaker wire laid down. The Power wire is Stinger HPM 0-gauge heading into a Stinger 30 Farad capacitor. A second run of 0-gauge Stinger HPM oval heads to the distribution blocks. The amps are in turn fed by 4-gauge Stinger HPM power wire. The RCAs are custom-made from Stinger HPM2 leads to the exact measurement required meaning no extra length or noise. Driving all of the juice is a Mechman 225Amp alternator feeding 0-gauge power wire. The stock battery was removed and a custom tray was fabricated for a monster. What kind of monster? A Kinetik HC2400! A second MDF and fiberglass rack was made on the other side of the engine compartment for a second Kinetik HC2400.
Then the Cartronics and Pioneer team started making selections for audio product. They started with the amplifiers that consisted of five Pioneer Premier PRS units. The A900s are in 2-channel mode and are running the front pillar components, the mid-bass drivers and the rear pillar components. The D1200s are wired one per subwoofer for maximum wattage. “We wanted to showcase the new amplifiers without crowding the install space.” says Berry. “We then took apart the swinging gate and sunk three of the A900 amps into a custom aluminum rack. We took it even one step further by pulling the plates off the amps and showcasing the circuitry under Plexiglas, illuminated by LEDs.” The D1200SPL power amps were set into custom fiberglass enclosures on either side of the cargo area with the same aquarium window into the inner workings of the amp. The subs are Pioneer’s Pro Series TS-W3001-D4 12-inch subs and reside next to the power amps in an enclosure that mimics the FJ Cruiser dash. The enclosure was then smoothed and color-coded to match the rest of the vehicle.
The speakers chosen to replicate all of the frequencies were carefully selected, mounted and tuned for sound quality. The distance and angle was measured from the rear for an accurate listening platform. The 5.25-inch Pioneer TS-C520PRS rear components were mounted into custom rear C-pillar mounts made from fiberglass and contoured to shape. In the front doors, a fiberglass housing was made for a flush mount and billet aluminum grills. After the Pioneer TS-C720PRS 6.5-inch mid-bass drivers were mounted an ‘FJ’ logo was cut into Plexiglas and backlit. Finally, the most challenging part was to sink 5.25-inch Pioneer TS-C520PRS speakers into the A-Pillars without obstructing the view. Countless hours were spent on proper placement of these speakers to provide accurate staging and imaging.
Next up was another Cartronics innovation with the accessories tray in the dash. This motorized unit houses a Pioneer: XM Traffic module, GEX-P10 HD radio and all six passive crossovers. The custom wrapped and painted tray slides out to display all of Pioneer’s gear at the touch of a dash mounted button. All of the accessories are orchestrated by the Pioneer AVIC-Z2 unit up front along with a Pioneer Premier DEH-P800PRS to process the sound. In the rear console a Pioneer AVD-W7900 7-inch LCD sits in a color-matched fiberglass enclosure. In the doors, additional Pioneer AVD-W7900 monitors also sit in fiberglass pods.
A true blend of form and function, it is great to see projects like this still being built. For Pioneer, the objective was simple, make an impression to keep the brand on the minds of consumers. For Berry and the team at Cartronics, it was all about the bragging rights, not to mention the pride of putting a project of this magnitude together. Bravo!
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