For every four-wheeler, there comes a time when you just have to own a functional rig. Upon reaching this juncture, you are confronted with an array of choices. The options usually come down to the non-functional, assembly line mall-crawler, someone else's problem, or a custom-built 'wheeler, the latter often being the better choice. Jack Johnson of Hawaii kicked these options around for a while before he came up with his own plan: take a dependable, trail-proven Toyota Land Cruiser FJ60 and have it built to his demanding specifications. The transformation of this FJ60 into a usable rock machine took in very different directions than Toyota Motor Corporation originally had in mind, but this hybrid 'crawler works, and it can be counted on when needed most.
Jack knew exactly what he needed on his 'wheeler and who he wanted to build his machine: the experts at Avalanche Engineering in Bayfield, Colorado. His original directions went something like this: "Build me a 'crawler, make it tough, and make sure nothing can stop its forward momentum." With this in mind, the Avalanche crew began the arduous task of transforming this '84 Land Cruiser into Jack's four-wheeler.
First on the agenda was an engine swap. The original 4.2L inline-six was pulled out and replaced with a Chevy Ram Jet 350. A Howe aluminum radiator was bolted in to keep engine heat under wraps. Transferring power is a GM Turbo 350 complete with a Lokar shifter and a B&M transmission cooler. The tranny was completely rebuilt by Randy at Jimmy's Transmission of Cortez, Colorado. Wrapping up the drivetrain is the venerable NP205, which transmits power via two 1330 CV driveshafts.
Next, the OE axles were replaced with a Dana 60 up front and a Dana 70 in the rear. Avalanche's Rockrings were also added to protect the front and rear axlehousings. In anticipation of much larger tires, the diffs were regeared to 4.88, and Powr-Loks were bolted in front and rear for controlled traction.
To increase the height of the FJ60, Avalanche converted it to a springover setup, which provided about 5 inches of lift. Doetsch Tech shocks were added to smooth out any unruly rock fields. For steering control, Avalanche custom built a high-cross steering system. With the increase in height, there was more than enough room to fit a set of Michelin P325/85R16 XML tires on 16x10-inch Alcoa wheels. Finally, for airing chores, an engine-driven compressor was added in the engine compartment along with a rear-mounted air tank.
Driving around Hawaii is a pleasure all by itself, but off-roading through paradise in a custom-built FJ60 only adds to the flavor. This functional FJ60 is a more-than-competent rockcrawler, and with the custom suspension work and newfound engine performance, Jack Johnson should give the trails around Hawaii a serious run for their money.
|Owner/hometown:||Jack Johnson/ |
|Year/make/model:||'84 Toyota FJ60 |
|Engine:||Chevy Ram Jet 350 V-8|
|Transmission:||GM Turbo 350|
|Frontend:||Dana 60 with Powr-Lok|
|Rearend:||Dana 70 with Powr-Lok|
|Suspension:||Custom springover |