HerschX Tacoma Drives Clean Water Advocacy

Bringing Awareness to the African Water Crisis

Contracting dyentery on a trip to Africa in 2008 changed Brian King’s entire perspective on everything in his world. But instead of doing nothing and coming home, he decided to do everything. “We decided to roll up our sleeves and do something about it and started Vox United. The word vox is Latin for ‘voice.’ Our motivation centers on bringing practical, real-time hope to the voiceless of our world.” Vox, with the help of dozens of companies and volunteers, has operations in U.S., South Africa, Mozambique, and Kenya. To date, their efforts have benefited over 1.5 million people with access to sustainable clean drinking water. And there’s more to be done; enter the HerschX, an impressive 2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD PRO that was built to raise awareness and help raise one million dollars to continue the fight for clean water in Africa.

Calling Attention to What’s Important

It all began for Brian King in 2008 with a bucket list trip to Africa. There, he did something we would consider very routine, but it changed the course of his life forever. He took a simple drink of water. Turns out the water contained contiminants, and it sent him into a life-threatening bout with dysentery.

Brian remembers: “After 48 hours of pain and constant fluid loss, my colleagues transferred me from the mud hut to a pickup truck. They drove me three hours though the bush to a make-shift clinic, where they ran a crude IV and pumped my body with wrong medicine.” While he recovered from his struggle, he also learned some facts that made him want to make a change. Brian learned that 37 percent of the kids in the region were dying before age 5 from water-borne diseases. On top of that, nearly 70 percent of people living in rural Africa don’t have direct access to clean water.

Parked on the trail, the HerschX Tacoma stands on large wheels and is outfitted with gear on all sides.
The HershX Tacoma is a purpose-built truck for off roading and fundraising.

Vox United Mission

Vox United is a specialized development organization that implements and manages sustainable clean water programs in rural Africa. “At Vox,” Brian explains, “we believe clean water access is the great equalizer. It flips the script on abject poverty and disease. As a result, we collaborate with African municipalities and local communities to install clean water access points. The entire process is an education strategy that empowers local workers to… keep the water flowing. A big part of our sustainability strategy centers on WASH (water, sanitation, health & hygiene) mobilization and community development.”

“When people have access to clean drinking water, it changes everything— it dimishes diseases, extends lives, and makes hope real. At Vox, we spec new wells to provide water coverage for 300 people. In some of the densely populated areas, a single well can provide water for thousands of people.”

When people have access to clean water, it changes everything.

The HerschX Tacoma rolls through high grass. Its dark paint job stands out against the trail.
Built to representation of a good cause, the HerschX Tacoma will tour sub-Saharan Africa to help raise money for wells and water to beleaguered villages.

One Last Build

Brian King grew up in a hot rod family. His father, Hersch, was a car guy who enjoyed a lifetime of car projects that he shared with his son. “My dad taught us that cars are cool,” says Brian, “but people and family are what really matter.” Hersch received a terminal lung disease diagnosis a few years ago, and he and Brian talked about doing one last build together. Sadly, the disease progressed and Brian never got the opportunity to make it happen. When he passed, Brian told his wife, Lorie, that he was going to do that “last build” as a tribute to his dad.

My dad taught us that cars are cool…but people and family are what really matter.

However, rather than building a muscle car or a hot rod, Brian wanted to build a truck that mirrored our water safari trucks in rural Africa and use it to help people understand the need for clean drinking water around the world. Brian explains: “We thought if we could build a truck this time, bring it to shows, share our story and raise a serious chunk of change to actually help people, that be a great way to honor dad’s legacy.” And that’s exactly what he did.

A side shot of the Tacoma gives a close look at the snorkel and headlights.
For any off-road vehicle, storage is essential, and HerschX Tacoma is equipped with redundant storage solutions that maximize its ability to haul needed gear.

Closed, the HerschX Tacoma's side storage compartments house a shovel and other equipment.

The HerschX Tacoma Build Begins

Brian sent out the word to dozens of off-road companies that specialize in the best-of-the-best products in the overlanding and off-road community, and they responded in full force. Starting with a base 2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro with the stock 3.5-liter V6 powerplant, Brian and his team took approximately a year to adequately plan out the HerschX, while the Tacoma itself was completed in a rapid-fire five months in order to make it to the SEMA Show. Custom fabricators joined Brian to make his Hersch tribute truck a reality, especially since it is for such a good cause.

Overall Exterior

The first thing that fans of the truck will see is the custom DSRPT wrap done in a gunmetal camo style that provides a stealth look but blends in many of the exterior features. Fore, aft, and in between sit a bevy of C4 Fabrication armor, complete with front and rear bumpers, rock sliders and step plates, and skids fastened underneath.

In the bed are Sherpa Equipment Company’s Grand Teton Cab Rack and its Crow’s Nest Topper Rack that supports a host of gear. Also the bed was fitted with Alu-Cab’s Explorer canopy shell, and mounted onto that is the CVT Mount Hood 56-inch rooftop tent and the CVT awning to protect against the African sun.

Roof top storage boxes are mounted behind the lightbar. The front grile features a lagre bull bar, HerschX Tacoma branding, and a winch.

Storage and Recovery

Trekking across the dunes of sub-Saharan Africa is no easy task. The likelihood of losing traction in the sand or on rough roads is high. So, recovery gear is a must, and the HerschX Tacoma has plenty. The Warn Industries Evo 10s winch is mated with the Hawse Fairlead, Ultrahook, and Sawtooth Kit from Factor 55. Along with these, the sand is no match for the Maxtrax recovery boards. Dewalt tools, a DMOS Delta Pro shovel, and a safe jack round out the necessary gear.

Speaking of gear, keeping it stowed away and organized is an important task and it fell to a couple of different systems. The bed’s main storage is the Truck Vault’s 5-foot, all-weather offset drawer system, while go-to gear is kept safe in a slew of Pelican cases. RotoPax was tapped to store the water and extra fuel, while Valhalla Off-Road Molle panels were mounted to the bed’s sidewalls.

The door to two side storage compartments flips up.
Since there are very few hotels in the deserts of Africa, everything must be brought with them, including a place to sleep and eat. Fortunately, the HerschX Tacoma offers both.

Comms and Electrics

Keeping open communication with the teams deployed to the various wells in the region means a solid radio system, like the Midland MXT400 MicroMobile 2-Way Radio, whose signal is boosted via weBoost Drive Reach OTR Booster. The high-tech features inside the rig allow Brian and his team to stay mobile for longer with a set of Battle Born 100Ah 12V  lithium batteries and a Wagan Tech Pure Line 3000 Pure Sine Inverter and iOnBoost. The system is managed by REDARC Manager 30 with Red Vision. Navigation duties are left to Garmin and its 8-inch Tread Overland Edition GPS with built-in inReach Tech and an inReach mini satellite communicator and BCTM 40 wireless cameras.

Turning the nighttime trails into day is easy with the help of a host of LED lights from Baja Designs, including 30- and 40-inch lightbars, reverse lights, S2 work lights, and a group of Squadron Pro fog lights. The stock Toyota headlights and taillights were swapped out for AlphaRex LUXX-series taillights and Nove-Series headlights, both LEDs.

Parked on a cliff overlooking a valley with roof top tent deployed, the HerschX Tacoma is covered in a thin layer of dust.

Tires and Suspension

Keeping the ride bearable over rough terrain is the task of Fox’s 2.5 Factory Race Coil-overs with Reservoirs & DSC adjustors in the front and a set of 2.5 12-inch Factory Race Series Smoothies in the rear. Eibach 700-pound springs smooth out the dips in the front and Deaver Stage III leaf springs keep the bed off of the bump stops.

On the four corners sit a set of Stealth Custom Series BR6 BR6 17×9 BS 3.5 wheels wrapped in Yokohama Geolander G003 tires, size 35 x 12.5. Stopping power comes from SOS Performance’s StopTech Big Brakes kit.

The HerschX Tacoma's underbody and suspension.
The underpinnings of the HerschX Tacoma are especially built up to handle the rough roads ahead when it begins its tour of Africa in 2023.

“A Bad Ride for a World of Good”

With the memories of his dad always present during this build, Brian enjoyed every moment of it. He says, “The time we were able to spend together as family working on this project was the best part.” (And it continues to be.) Since the build, the truck has endured countless shakedown miles. “We’ve traveled from west Michigan to South Dakota. From west Michigan to Las Vegas [for SEMA]. From west Michigan to Arizona, through Moab back to west Michigan. In September, we traveled back out to Colorado and spent a couple weeks in the Rockies. We field tested the suspension, assessed our battery management setup, and tweaked our galley.”

Overall, the HerschX Tacoma is an extremely well-built rig. It’s trucks like these that show that the final product is more than the sum of its parts. Soon, “A Bad Ride for a World of Good” will make its debut on the world stage. It’s Brian’s hope that the donations will help build and maintain wells in sub-Saharan Africa.

Under the hood is a brand new Tacoma engine.
The engine was left stock; after all, it was brand new.

Driven to Make a Difference

In 2023, the HerschX Tacoma will start its journey from the USA to Africa. There, Brian and his team will begin their transcontinental Xpedition. The trek across sub-Saharan Africa to Mozambique will culminate in a clean water project for thousands of people. Along the way, partner brands and enthusiasts who support the mission will join them. Vox United’s ultimate goal is to create global awareness and generate more momentum for the cause.

Visit VoxUnited.org to learn more, get involved, or donate to the cause. There, you can watch a 30-minute film, “Water Safari Versus,” that highlights two teams competing against each other. Each team’s goal is to restore non-functioning wells and renew clean water access. These challenges benefit thousands of people in the Montepuez District of Mozambique, Africa.

HerschX Tacoma Photo Gallery

Looking under the truck reveals full body skid plates from front to rear.
All of the sensitive parts under the truck were well protected with C4 skid plates.
The electronics are controlled via a smart hub within the shell.
The electronics are controlled via a smart hub within the shell.
A small tablet mounted to the dash displays navigation software.
Up front, there’s no chance of getting lost thanks to the Garmin Tread Overland
Looking up from the rear mounted spare tire, the roof top tent adds extra space to the vehicle.
One area of the build were attention was particularly paid was the suspension because the farther you get from civilization, the worse the roads become.

The Tacoma is loaded with gear, from the roof top tent to the rear door mounted spare tire and storage.

Under cloud cover, the HerschX Tacoma rolls uphill.
Ready for its adventure, the HerschX Tacoma was built from fond memories and for a bright future.

4xFor Challenge

If you do the math, 53,000 new wells are currently necessary to support the given population. Unfortunately most communities lack the financial resources to fund a drilling project. The government provides support, but not enough. Hence the need for humanitarian organizations and alternative funding.

While at SEMA, Brian King and his organization, Vox United, launched the 4xFor Challenge. It’s a way for the off-road community to do something about the need for clean drinking water in rural Africa.

The goal of the 4xFor Challenge is to raise $1 million. The organization will give 100 percent of the money raised to fund clean water projects. As little as $35 can give someone sustainable clean drinking water, $10,000 provides a new well for an entire community. They estimate that around 300-600 people benefit from every well. However, because the well-to-beneficiary ratio is so high in rural Africa, most wells end up benefiting 1,000 or more people.

Visit HerschX.com to learn more about the 4xFor Challenge, get involved, take the challenge, and donate to the cause. One hundred percent of the money raised will go to support clean water projects through Vox United.

HerschX 2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro


3.5-Liter V6 Auto


Fox 2.5 Factory Race Coil-overs, Eibach 700lb Springs, AccuTune Custom Tuning, Icon Billet Aluminum UCAs, Dirt King Fabrication LCAs and Cam Tab Gussets, Kartek Blackout Limit Straps, Fox 2.5 12” Factory Race Series Smoothies, Fox 2.0 Bump Stops, Custom Reservoir Mounts, Archive Garage Strike Plates, Deaver Stage III Leaf Springs, Archive Garage Hammers with 3.6 Shackles, Archive Garage Shock Relocation Towers & Axle Mounts, Kartek Blackout Limit Straps

Wheels and Tires:

Stealth Custom Series BR6 17X9 BS 3.5 Offset -38, Yokohama Geolander G003 3X12.50 R17

Exterior Accessories:

Custom DSRPT Gunmetal Camo Wrap; Custom Innotec/Broadview Hersch X LED Grill Inlay; C4 Fabrication Overlander Front Bumper, Rock Sliders with Step Plates, High Clearance Rear Bumper, and skids; Sherpa Equipment Co Grand Teton Cab Rack and Crow’s Nest Topper Rack; CVT Mount Hood 56” root top tent and awning; Baja Designs S8 40” and 30” LED Drive Combo Light Bars, Squadron Pro Fog light, S2 Work/Scene Lights, S2 Reverse Lights, and Rock Lights; AlphaRex LUXX-Series LED Head and Tail Lights; Meso Customs V2 Dual Color Map & Dome Lights; Alu-Cab Explorer topper; ARB 4×4 Element Fridge & Slider and safari Snorkel

Interior Accessories:

Garmin Power Switch Bluetooth Ecosystem, Tread—Overland Edition GPS, BCTM 40 Wireless Cameras, inReach Mini Satellite; Blaze Off-Road Electrical System & Mounts; Teton Workshop Billet Shifter; Truck Vault 5’ All-Weather Offset Drawer System; Pelican Vault, cargo, and Ruck Cases; RotoPax (Fuel, Water & Storage); Ai13 Billet Pax Nozzle Kits; Valhalla Off-Road Molle Panels; REDARC Manager 30 with Red Vision; Battle Born 100 AMP Hour 12v  Lithium Batteries;

Blue Sea Systems Componentry; Pro Wire Harnessing Equipment; Wagan Tech Pure Line 3000 Pure Sine Inverter;

Midland MXT400 MicroMobile 2-Way Radio; weBoost Drive Reach OTR Booster; DMOS Delta Pro Shovel; Warn Industries Evo 10s Winch; Factor 55 Hawse Fairlead, ultrahook and Sawtooth kit; Maxtrax Recovery Boards; ARB Twin Compressor; Custom Remote Air Mount Coupler; Indeflate 2-hose unit; Expedition Essentials 3TPM Dash Mount; Mountain Hatch Food-Grade Tailgate Table; WrapTek Tinting; The Taco Garage Blackout Sequential Turn Signals; Console Vault Safe; WaterPort Day Tank; MyMedic Recon First Aid Kit

Editor’s Note: A version of this story previously appeared in the TREAD November/December 2022 issue.

You May Also Like

All-New 2022 Toyota Tundra: Ready to Overland

Built From the Ground Up by Truck Owners As more overlanders switch over from mid-size trucks to full-size trucks, will the all-new 2022 Toyota Tundra […]

Tacomabeast: A Truck That Inspired a Community

The Tacomabeast, a Flagship Rig That Gets Driven … Hard If you know anything about Tacomabeast, you know the company is way more than a […]

American Tacoma: A Purpose-Built Adventure Machine

Big Adventures Ahead for This Clean and Functional Tacoma Build Ed Hanna plans to cross America on dirt with his wife Michele and his trusty […]

VOTW: Wrangler with a Bed

The Gladiator has been holding the spotlight in the media lately— breaking the mold and potentially putting Toyota down a peg in the midsize truck […]