If America's favorite off-roader is the Jeep, then Japan's is the Toyota FJ. This Japanese-American hybrid 1978 FJ40 Land Cruiser successfully crosses the Pacific with its box-shaped bodywork that's instantly identifiable on six continents, and is stuffed with an equally famous Chevy small block V8. But the creativity didn't stop there, as the ins-and/outs were turned up to 11 as well. Take a closer look...
Typically, it's hard to call the FJ40 “styled” because it's simply the bare minimum required to carry people and gear to inhospitable places. However, this is no ordinary FJ40. The entire vehicle was lifted four inches, and then the roof was chopped down three inches, completely changing the profile of this Toyota into something much more exciting than the norm. But the fun didn't stop there, the hard top is no longer removable, it's now joined in with the rest of the body work, almost like a makeshift panel delivery from years past, and the entire body was coated with a faux patina, tan matte paint job for a Mad Max style look. There's a heavy-duty stinger bumper up front ostensibly designed to push large objects out of its way, a black roll bar bumper out back, a custom roof rack, an Australian-made windshield visor, and a huge jack mounted on the passenger's side of the truck for emergencies. The restorers still couldn't keep their hands to themselves, and made an integrated, custom grille for the now forward-tilting hood, installed '54 Ford truck headlights, and frenched in '59 Cadillac headlights. And you know what, it all just works perfectly together. What a special FJ!
Just like the exterior, the interior is a fever dream of design and ingenuity as well. Corbeau race bucket seats replace the originals up front, split by a Tuffy center console with cup holders. The dash is a custom smorgasbord of Auto Meter gauges, switches and dials, a JVC AM/FM/CD stereo, and even wooden accents that preview the rear cabin area. For durability, the floors have been covered with a diamond-plate patterned mat and the roll bar behind the seats is also part of the roof's support structure in case things get a bit “upside down” out on the trail. The aftermarket steering wheel rest atop a tilt column, and that extended shift lever with the skull on top controls a 4-speed manual transmission. And despite its ruggedness, this Toyota actually has R134a A/C pumping into the cabin through an under-dash unit. Out back the backseat and cargo area features tongue-and-groove wood that covers the inner walls and headliner, providing a truly one-of-a-kind look that one again harkens back to panel deliveries of the past. The floor in the cargo area is covered with the same rubber material found up front, and a fold-away jump seat allows for an extra passenger.
A few years ago when this FJ was fully restored, the original inline-six was yanked and a rebuilt 350 cubic inch Chevy V8 went into its place under the hood. The swap is not unusual, and the quality of the work means that this off-roader is still just as reliable as it was originally but with about twice the horsepower. Clearly a lot of thought went into the installation, as the alternator and compressor are mounted up high and out of harm's way, and the reservoirs for the hydraulic clutch and master cylinder are likewise where they'll stay dry. A big radiator will keep things under control even during low-speed climbs and service access is fantastic thanks in part to the forward-tilting hood. Underneath, it's still mostly Toyota, with original axles fore and aft suspended on a 3-inch lift that looks awesome and adds ground clearance. Wrapped headers feed a custom exhaust system for a distinctive sound heard several blocks away and you can see that the floors are in great shape too. Aftermarket Stockton military wheels carry giant 35x12.5-15 off-road radials that look like they could climb Mt. Everest.
Go ahead, take this one out and tear up some dirt, or some pavement, it won't mind. FJs are like that, and with 350 V8 power matted to a 4-speed, you'll always be the first to the top of the hill. Better yet, most people won't even know what it was that beat them up there. Hurry and call today!