IT SEEMS being a Land Rover nut and then buying a classic Land Cruiser is akin to barracking for both Carlton and Collingwood at the same time, or, if you’re into that other game, the Doggies and the Rabbitohs.
But while old Land Rovers seem to be popular with Instagram hipsters these days, I’ve always had a thing for old Toyota Land Cruisers. Growing up in the bush surrounded by them is probably the reason why, with trayback 45s and shorty 40s seeming to be on the periphery of my life for the past three or four decades. That said, I’ve never actually owned one.
Stateside, prices for old FJ Toyotas have gone nuts, but the sheer volume of Toyota tin on the ground locally has seen Aussie prices remain a little more realistic for the average enthusiast. I’ve always wanted one and have been keeping an eye on the market.
The thing is, I wanted a stock FJ, which is harder to find than you may think. I’d noticed really good examples were getting hard to find and had some pretty serious asking prices. Everything else with a realistic price tag was deep in the heart of project territory.
After a couple of false starts – which nearly saw me buy a diesel Series 1 Land Rover and a late-70s F100 4x4 with a period-correct motorhome installed on its chassis – the FJ40 you see on these pages appeared on my internet browser.
Custom 4x4: ICON FJ44
The young bloke I bought it off couldn’t tell me anything about its history, as he’d only owned it for 18 months. To me it looked like an older resto that was never quite finished, but, importantly, it wasn’t rusty or full of bog. It was presentable and I loved the FJ Cruiser Army Green hue, so I managed to negotiate quite a few grand off the hefty asking price and the deal was done.
Getting it on the road required a few minor bits and bobs like bulbs and lenses, an exhaust repair and new wheel cylinders. This truck originally had drum brakes all around, but somewhere along the line someone has thrown later model disc brakes on the front.
As luck would have it, I have an FJ Toyota guru about one kilometre from my house. Ray Saggal at Hendra Motors, Queensland, is an FJ nut, a bloody good mechanic and, as it turns out, a really nice bloke. Ray handled the brake work and, while we were at it, an electronic ignition was installed.
So now I get to bob along on my cart-sprung Shorty, constantly twitching the wheel to compensate for all the bendy bits and linkages that make up the FJ’s “unique” road-holding equipment. I’d say I’m doing so with a grin, but the smile usually only lasts until the next servo – that 4.2-litre 2F petrol engine may be tough, torquey and reliable, but it drinks like an old-school motoring journo.
If I’m to take this old banger any distance in the future, I reckon a long-range fuel tank may be on the cards. In the meantime, I’ll need to look at finishing off the interior and installing some sound deadening, because those 33-inch BFG muddies make this thing bloody loud.
I do plan to get it dirty, just carefully dirty. I’ve found there’s something quite stressful about taking a restored 4x4 off-road. So, for the most part it’s a mall crawler. That said, this truck attracts commentary wherever it goes; like so many classic cars, everyone seems to have an FJ Land Cruiser story. I get the feeling that this one’s a keeper. The garage is full, but I did see an awesome FJ55 the other day…
The complete ownership adventure on 4x4 Shed
4x4 Shed Log: 1976 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40
Current mileage: 750460km
Date acquired: N/A
Mileage this month: 800km
Average fuel consumption: Plenty