There are three different "STAGES" that Ivan Stewart Signature Edition Tundra buyers can choose from when purchasing a brand new Tundra from participating Toyota dealers, depending on their budget.
"STAGE 1" adds wheels, tires, shocks, cat-back exhaust, custom Hurst shifter (molded from Ivan’s actual grip), Signature Series Badges and a dash plaque with unique serial number.
The "STAGE 2 Pre-Run Package" includes all of the STAGE 1 components, plus STAGE 2 Badges, N-Fab light bar, four Hella 700FF lights, a billet aluminum bed-rail system and polished aluminum alloy fuel door.
The "STAGE 3 Performance Package" includes all the STAGE 1 components, plus the STAGE 2 Pre-Run Package (optional), TRD supercharger, TRD brake package, Hella high-performance headlights, body-colored grille, STAGE 3 badges, black-out headlights, metal-finish OEM grille and Katzkin Leather seats with embroidered logos.
A STAGE 3 truck could run a buyer up to $60,000, depending on the configuration and MSRP of the Tundra they’ve purchased.
"We're trying to create a sense of value that's greater than the sum of its parts, like a Carrol Shelby (Mustang)," Stewart said. "This is something that we think could grow in value over time. We're going to limit the Signature Series to a maximum 500 trucks the first year. All owners will receive a numbered plaque in their trucks and access to an owner's registry online."
Now, back to our road test.
We're inside a STAGE 3 truck, officially serial no. 00001. It's Ivan, me, two other adult males and a full tank of fuel. That's about 6,200-pounds of mass for the Tundra's 5.7-liter V-8 and Eaton-sourced supercharger to move. In four runs on asphalt -- two in two-wheel drive and two in four-wheel drive -- we average 0 to 60 in 6.5-seconds.
That's quite good for the passenger-loaded full-size Double Cab. The force of acceleration is strong, pushing us back into our seats as full 8.5 PSI boost is reached and the compressor wails.
Earlier in the day, it was just me and another journalist. We took turns pushing the upgraded Tundra against the laws of physics, shutting its traction control nanny off to let the truck run without throttle intervention. Darting into corners, we’re able to drift the truck like pros. The TRD compressor magnifies the pickup’s low-end torque, causing the grippy all-terrain tires to lose grip way before the torque reaches its peak 4,000 rpm. The big red truck's size doesn't hint at the fine control gained from the TRD brakes and stiff Bilstein shocks.
What really gets our attention, though, was the Tundra's stability control alarm going off in the cabin. The incessant beeping during every drift is Toyota intrusioneering at its finest. The pre-production truck's pilot tuning prevented us from being able to turn stability control off.
We did the obligatory burnout in a parking lot, turning the Tundra's 504 ponies into white smoke and burnt rubber while the supercharger whined and Ivan grinned broadly. It only took 20 seconds or so to produce twin tails of tire crumbs several feet behind the truck's rear wheels. We also spent some time doing light off-roading with the truck on a dusty dirt road.
"We didn't design the truck to jump, and it's not designed as a race truck," Stewart said. "It's a starter truck that will let you go where you can't get a speeding ticket, but it has to be driven within its parameters."
In four high, we made several high-speed passes on the trail, getting a microscopic taste of what Ivan has been doing his entire career.
Stewart says the STAGE 3 truck is two stages removed from a true desert-racing Baja PreRunner, with a tubular space frame and long-travel reservoir suspension. He's anxious to see how well his Signature Series pickups sell, because he's already thinking about possibly creating a STAGE 4 long-travel, stock-based Tundra. A hard-core off-road pickup for enthusiasts who grew up driving Ivan's trucks in videogames and still want to be like him as adults. We're already saving our quarters.