A Coiled FJ That's Ready to Grind
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.
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.
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.