Hi, I'm Dresden Empey and I love Toyotas, specifically 4Runners. My love for 4Runners began when I came home from living in Europe for a few years. My best friend, Navy, had a 2002 4Runner and I loved the fact that he could go anywhere in it and just lay the seats down with a sleeping pad and camp. He convinced me to get my first 4Runner, a dark grey 2007 4th gen.
After buying it completely stock, I slowly started modifying it so I could go more places and so it would look more unique. I leveled it, got some knock off TRD Pro wheels, bigger tires, painted trim pieces black, and even welded together my own roof rack. My wife, Elle, and I loved taking it around Southern Utah (where we live) and being able to just lay the seats down and camp.
After a few years of enjoying my 4th gen, I longed for the 5th gen. I found a 2014 SR5 in Phoenix with a decent amount of miles and a rebuilt title, something I could afford. After finding photos of the original damage and being sure it didn't have any major issues, Elle and I drove down and bought it.
I continue to try and make it cool and more functional. And always on modest budget.
The Start of DRZ Off-Road:
I started DRZ Off-Road in October of 2018 when I was trying to replace the halogen bulbs in my 2014 4Runner with LEDs. Every bulb I tried was dimmer than stock halogen or had really uneven light output. I took my headlights apart to figure out why an LED with "5,000 Lumens" would put out less light than my stock halogen bulbs with only 1,200 Lumens.
Once I got my headlights apart and was able to see the projector unit for my 4Runner, I noticed that it was quite different from most projectors. Instead of having the light bulb insert come in directly from the rear of the unit, like most projectors, the bulb insert was on the side. I also realized that the the insert was much lower than the center of the projector lens. I noticed that there was a primary reflector bowl that reflected light up to the secondary reflector bowl, and then to the lens.
Knowing that most all LEDs have very wide and thick heads. The "5,000 Lumens" of light that the LED is supposed to put out gets shadowed by the wide LED head after it has reflected off the first reflector bowl. The light that ends up making it to the secondary bowl is scattered, spotty, and dim.
So I set out to come up with an LED that would work perfectly in this strange projector housing and came up with today's LED Low Beam Set. A 4 sided LED with an extremely thin head. The 4 sides put out a full 360 degrees of light with no dark spots. Because it's so thin, 99% of the light that comes out of the LED filaments, makes it to the lens vs. standard LEDs where only around 40% of the light actually makes it to the lens.
Where we're going:
We have added more 5th gen products and have slowly started to get into earlier generation 4Runners as well as other Toyotas. We plan to grow outside of just lighting and into bumpers, suspension, roof racks, and more.