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Land Crawler

Posted in Features on May 3, 2005 Comment (0)
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Land Crawler

When Donald Cassel of Venice, California, began the buildup of his 1980 Toyota FJ-40 Land Cruiser, he had a good image in his mind of the type of vehicle he desired. Tackling tough trails such as the Rubicon were certainly on the agenda, but maintaining a street-legal appearance and function were also high on his list of priorities.

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After spending a few dollars on mods to increase the rig's capability in its stock form, a rare opportunity that put him in the driver's seat of an extreme-built FJ-40 opened his eyes to the untapped capability that his own FJ possessed.

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Launching into a full-scale buildup, Donald headed to Don's 4x4 in Covina, California, for the first stage of many modifications. A Warn Black Diamond coilover suspension system was acquired and a flurry of body and frame cutting and welding ensued (the Black Diamond Suspension line has since been sold by Warn, but the kits are still being produced under the name Black Diamond). Once the suspension installation was complete, Don's 4x4 also constructed the stout rollcage. A host of other interior and exterior accessories was also installed before the Cruiser moved onto Stage Two of the buildup, which occurred at Tri County Gear in Pomona, California. There, the steering and suspension tuning transpired, and the 5.7L Vortec 350 V-8 was tweaked and massaged until it passed smog.

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Building an extreme 4x4 that's ready for any challenge can prove to be a difficult proposition. It often entails a good bit of steps backward for every step forward and can take its toll on those eager to hit the trail in their new ride. Donald impressed upon us some of the factors that helped him keep his cool during the buildup. First off, know what you want before you start. Be realistic about cost and time, realize that modifications beget further modifications, and most importantly, have a lot of patience. With these guidelines in mind, maybe you'll find yourself in a ride like Donald's, crawling obstacles and cruising the highway.

A '98 5.7L Vortec V-8 is situated between the fenders and presented the biggest issues in the buildup of the rig. The mighty mill finally passed the stringent California smog laws after months of tweaking and testing by Jason Bunch of Tri County Gear. The engine is equipped with a K&N air filter and York engine-driven compressor. A '98 5.7L Vortec V-8 is situated between the fenders and presented the biggest issues in the buildup of the rig. The mighty mill finally passed the stringent California smog laws after months of tweaking and testing by Jason Bunch of Tri County Gear. The engine is equipped with a K&N air filter and York engine-driven compressor.

SPECIFICATIONS

Year/make/model:
'80 Toyota FJ-40 Land Cruiser
Owner/hometown:
Donald Cassel/Venice, California
Engine:
'98 Chevy 5.7L Vortec V-8
Induction:
EFI
Transmission:
700R4
Transfer case:
Atlas 4.3
Frontend:
Dana 60 with ARB Air Locker
Rearend:
Dana 60 with ARB Air Locker
Ring-and-pinion:
4.88
Suspension:
Warn Black Diamond coil kit, Fox shocks
Tires/wheels:
39.5x12.50R17 Interco Irok/17x9.5-inch Allied bead locks

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