Together at Last

A story about a man, a car and the dealership that brought them together
by Dan Nied
Jan/Feb 2016
Together at Last
It’s pretty simple: This is a love story.

But sometimes it’s good to be reminded about the emotions that come with finding a car you truly connect with.

Brian Vangor, a regular guy who has worked in the control room of a nuclear power plant in Upstate New York for the last 35 years, saw a photo of a TRD Pro 4Runner one day and just had to have it.

After a five-month search, he and his vehicle are together.

“The color, Inferno, stands out and the black wheels are fantastic,” Vangor says. “It’s a lot of fun to drive, it’s like the hot rod I never had. I know it’s built for it, but mine won’t spend much time off the road. I’m not really interested in the dents and scratches. I want to keep this as long as I can.”

Chance Encounter

Every love story needs a catalyst, the quirky friend who somehow pairs the two heroes together.

In this case, it’s Daryl Callahan, sales manager at DCH Wappingers Falls Toyota, who, after months of searching, brought Vangor his new 4Runner.

Highly Anticipated
Sales Manager Daryl Callahan (left) worked for weeks to bring Brian Vangor and his dream car together. Vangor was so excited to finally take possession of his TRD Pro 4Runner, that he insisted on spiffing it up himself.
Photo by Paul S. Howell

The TRD Pro 4Runner is a difficult find due to its limited run and overwhelming popularity, but Callahan kept checking the allocation logs until he could find what Vangor was looking for.

The way Vangor and Callahan came together is a fun coincidence on its own. Vangor’s coworker, Dave Schweizer, is a childhood friend of Callahan. One day, Vangor showed Schweizer a photo of the Inferno TRD Pro 4Runner.  Schweizer passed his info on to Callahan, and a short while later, Vangor received an unprompted text from Callahan, saying he had checked and, yes, he could secure the desired vehicle within the next six months. After a few texts, Vangor visited the dealership.

“You can tell when you meet a customer as passionate as Brian is,” Callahan says. “And when I meet a customer who knows as much—or more—as me about a product, it’s always really impressive. Brian knew everything about the vehicle.”

And why wouldn’t he? Vangor has owned every generation of the 4Runner to date, and he can list them off with “remember-way-back-when” sentimental clarity.

“First one was in ’85. The great thing about that is you could take the cab off, so the whole thing was open to the outside,” Vangor says. “Then I had a 1993. My favorite one up to this point was the third generation, my 2000 4Runner. It had leather seats and manual transmission. That’s the one I had the longest. The more recent one was 2009. I had that for three years and loved it. But when the TRD Pro came out, I just couldn’t pass it up.”

At Last

And he didn’t. In fact, when he got word that his vehicle was being processed at Toyota Logistics Services (TLS) in Newark, N.J., Vangor took matters into his own hands. He contacted TLS, and arranged a rare visit to see the 4Runner at the port. It didn’t matter that it was some 75 miles away.

“There aren’t a lot of opportunities for us at TLS to interact with customers,” says Ron Leutbecher, TLS national logistics manager. “We deal with logistics partners and trucking companies. To interact with the customer, especially one as enthusiastic as Brian, was pretty cool.”

Special Inspection
When his 4Runner arrived at Toyota Logistics Services in Newark, N.J., Brian Vangor made special arrangements to see the vehicle. He and his wife, Kathy (pictured), drove some 75 miles for the unconventional visit.
Photo by Brian Vangor

When Vangor’s 4Runner reached the dealership, he and his wife, Kathy, arrived in TRD Pro shirts and caps. It was finally his. Callahan executed the deal and Client Advisor Melissa Sinapi showed the Vangors everything about the vehicle.

“Brian’s a special kind of customer,” Callahan says. “His excitement takes everything to the next level.”

And like any good love story, this one has a happy ending. A few months after picking up his TRD Pro 4Runner and driving it to and from work and around town every chance he got, Vangor knows he has found his automotive soul mate.

“For me it’s the perfect vehicle,” he says. “And it’s extremely personal.”
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