Returning to Ouray, Colorado, for its 12th iteration was the annual FJ Summit. Five days of food, friends, and FJs could be found in what is known as the Switzerland of America. The town of Ouray is nestled in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado and takes its name from the Native American Chief Ouray of the Ute tribe. Both the city and the surrounding hills have a mining history dating back to the late 1800s, when it was said there were more horses and mules in the town than people.
During the week of FJ Summit, there might have been more 4x4s than people in Ouray, with a massive turnout of folks ready to experience what the area had to offer. Trail rides led parades of vehicles over some of Colorado’s celebrated routes, crossing Black Bear, Ophir, Engineer, Cinnamon, and Imogene Pass, to name a few. Skills clinics were also available to familiarize newcomers to the wheeling lifestyle and help anyone else sharpen their vehicle handling or recovery techniques. When it was time to return from the wildflowers, crunching gravel, and scenic vistas, Ouray turned into a four-by-fairground with food vendors, gear suppliers, and entertainment for all ages.
For those who turned their backs on the pavement, shifted into 4-Lo, and avoided succumbing to altitude sickness, the 2018 FJ Summit was a memorable event, leaving its participants with new friends and new stories to tell. Until the next gathering, enjoy some of our favorite scenes from the FJ Summit. For more info on the event visit fjsummit.org.
Summiteers could choose from guided trail runs on a variety of classic trails. Ophir, Engineer, and Cinnamon Pass were among the easier runs offering stunning views. For those wishing to challenge their skills while still taking in the scenery, groups headed toward Black Bear Pass and Poughkeepsie Gulch. We aimed for the town of Telluride, climbing over the iconic Imogene Pass.
Gary Haas’ ’79 FJ40 just about matched the bluebird skies above the Colorado trails. The rig was a body-off restoration project from Proffitt’s Resurrection Land Cruisers and arguably looked better today than it did on the showroom floor. Notable upgrades included the rebuilt 4.0L 3F-E engine and H55F five-speed transmission, Old Man Emu 2.5-inch lift with reverse shackles, a pair of ARB Air Lockers, 33-inch BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain tires, and for the very keen eye—a 3.5-inch wheelbase extension in the rear.
Jim Deer’s ’07 FJ Cruiser had a surprise waiting for anyone who took a moment to look underneath. The truck’s stock axles and suspension were removed and rebuilt for hard-core trails. The Cruiser is now supported by a pair of RuffStuff axlehousings, each containing 5.38:1 gears and an ARB Air Locker. Fox 2.5-inch remote-reservoir shocks give the FJ 14 inches of suspension travel while the 37-inch Goodyear Wrangler MT/Rs roll over the obstacles. Power is divided between the two solid axles by an Advance Adapters Atlas 2 transfer case.
What Mark Hawley’s ’07 FJ Cruiser lacked in doors was made up for threefold with its list of modifications. The front suspension was comprised of long-travel upper and lower control arms from Total Chaos Fabrication, ICON 2.5-inch remote-reservoir coilovers, and ICON secondary shocks. A custom Metal-Tech three-link suspension with ICON shocks sat out back. The Cruiser also packed an Advance Adapters Atlas 2 four-speed transfer case, an Ironman 4x4 9,500-pound winch, and rolled on 35-inch BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain tires. Curious about the color? The rig was repainted with retro T-308 orange paint, usually found on ’72 Toyotas.
After returning from the trails, Summiteers were welcomed to comb the vendor show for 4x4-related gear, meet fellow attendees, and sit down to a warm dinner provided by the FJ Summit.