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Toyota FJ40 Icon - The TLC Biocon

Posted in Features on April 17, 2007 Comment (0)
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Contributors: Jonathan Ward
Photographers: Courtesy of TLC

Jonathan Ward and his team at Toyota Land Cruisers (TLC) have created some of the most memorable Toyota FJ-series vehicles to date. We were so impressed with their TLC Icon vehicle that we put it on the cover of our Feb. '06 issue. All Icons are handbuilt in very low volume in Van Nuys, California, by a small crew of six specialists, one at a time, with handtools. All design work is done with CAD to ensure standardization and to improve efficiency of the operation. The concept behind the Icon vehicle was to create something that would offer the consumer the classic good looks and style of the original FJ40 vehicle with the driving performance of a modern vehicle. With a little bit of research and a whole lot of know-how, they have now added a biodiesel version into the Icon family. As we take a walk through this more-than-impressive vehicle, we can only wonder what TLC will think of next.

TLC began development of the new "Biocon" by researching many engines and manufacturers. Although they have always been big fans of the non-USA Toyota diesel engines, this was not an option due to the fact that service parts are not available in the U.S. After also investigating the more common North America market diesel four-cylinders, they came to the conclusion that they were either too heavy, too tall, too long, or too difficult to adapt to the chassis. Ideally, TLC wanted to use a high-pressure direct-injection motor but discovered that there is not enough technical support in the service sector to ensure that their customers would be able to find support for maintenance. The new electronics-intensive diesel engines require special tools and training barely present at the dealer level, not to mention in the general repair community.

In the end, they chose a proven, simple, and highly reliable engine made by International called the HS 2.8L VNT. Four cylinders, 2.8 liters, high-pressure rotary-injected with Garrett variable turbo and intercooler. This engine features quality Bosch support parts, simple electronics, stellar reliability, and extreme longevity. The fuel system was designed to be directly compatible with biodiesel. Delivering plenty of performance with loads of torque down low where it's needed (276 lb-ft of torque at 1,600 rpm) while averaging 25 to 30 mpg, this is a four-wheeler built with exploration and the environment in mind.

The Icon begins life as an old FJ40 Toyota Land Cruiser ('60-'78). The truck is then stripped down to the frame, and the extra parts are recycled back into the Land Cruiser community or are sold as scrap metal. All of the textiles TLC uses are from environmentally conscious suppliers.

PhotosView Slideshow

The surface body coating is a TGIC Teflon/polyester hybrid powdercoat which emits no CFCs or VOCs in its application. The powdercoating was developed with Andrews Powder Coating and Cardinal Coatings and is far tougher than paint. The powdercoating keeps the vehicle's body looking new: All you need to do is simply wipe it down with organic dishwashing soap mixed with 50-percent water. Best of all, the finish never needs waxing and is UV-stable.

Instead of the traditional petroleum-based undercoatings, TLC uses heat-cured polyurea from Line-X which not only helps protect the body from road debris but also adds heat and vibration insulation with no potential negative effect on ground water as with petroleum-based coatings.

The original frame is modified by reindexing the rear suspension hangers, removing the crossbrace, adding a removable center crossbrace, and boxing the nose. That frame is then powdercoated, and the process begins.

The original axles are replaced with new Dynatrac Dana 60 and Dana 44 assemblies that are offered with either a limited-slip in the rear, a locking ARB differential in the rear, or locking ARB differentials front and rear. Brakes are four-wheel-vented and slotted power-assisted discs based on GM designs. For improved load rating and ride comfort, special Old Man Emu leaf springs from Australia are used on all four corners with greasable pins and anti-inversion shackles, nitrogen shocks, and poly bushings. The rear leaf springs are 7.5 inches longer than the original design.

For improved weight distribution and a lower center of gravity, the fuel tank has been enlarged and repositioned to the rear and boxed by the frame. The original fuel tanks were directly under the fixed passenger seat. TLC also redesigned the floor structure to ease rear-seat entry and to expand the front passenger foot area, which was always an issue with the vintage FJ40s.

Painless Performance helped develop a specific wire harness and switch package for the vehicle. Steering is accomplished via an ididit collapsible tilt steering-wheel column using a PSC 17.5:1 steering box mounted to the frame ith an Advance Adapters fit kit. ARB supplied the front bumper, lockers, compressor, and Dakar suspension utilizing FJ40 and FJ60 parts for an improved ride. GM was chosen for the fuel-injected, 350hp, roller-rocker, 5.7L Ram Jet small-block engine, and the Dodge NV4500 transmission with the Advance Adapters Atlas II transfer case delivers power to the axles thanks to J.E. Reel custom driveshafts. A McLeod CNC clutch system was used to ensure long-term service under heavy demands.

TLC is now offering the Icon in four standard colors, including Quartz Rock White, Mocha Brown, Rocky Mountain Gray, and Slate Blue. After exploring the trails in Johnson Valley and hugging plenty of thornbushes, a quick wipe-down with Simple Green and water restored the finish.

The interior features forward-facing seating for four, with three-point shoulder belts for everyone. The entry and exit to the rear seat through the front doors is drastically improved over Toyota's original design, with front seats that tumble forward to the dash, allowing tons of room. Both front seats recline and feature long floor tracks. The rear seat is also removable, or it can be tucked and tumbled forward for storage room. The seats are covered in Mercedes marine-rated vinyl and an innovative woven vinyl that is highly durable (originally intended for outdoor furniture) and looks like woven strands of steel and titanium. This material proved ideal for the heated seat elements with controls hidden in the Tuffy console. The same material is backed in rubber and used for the floor mats. Also inside the console is an Alpine CD XM/AM/FM iPod stereo, with four Infinity Kappa speakers cleverly integrated into the body structure in their own CAD-designed aluminum pods. The steering wheel is from a Cat diesel, and the gauges are from an aircraft supplier. The windshield frame latches and dash knobs were selected from commercial refrigerator and tooling suppliers and are stainless steel. To address the traditionally poor dash lighting, a clever stainless hex bolt protrudes from the center of the dash and casts light across the dash controls and 12V power port (a second power port is in the rear speaker pod). The HVAC system uses components from TLC's favorite A/C suppliers to provide full in-dash heat, A/C, and defrost with exceptional air volume.

In keeping with the handbuilt, low-volume production, each Icon is built to order. No two will be alike, with unique colors, surface coatings and textiles to meet each owner's tastes and utility needs. The Icons are available in two different styling packages: the New School and the Old School. The New School features a more modern industrial look with an ARB Bull Bar, a Kaymar dual-pivot Class II rear bumper, and American Racing Teflon-coated 17-inch alloy wheels. The Old School is more of a throwback to the original FJ40, with stock, gray-powdercoat steel wheels and hubcaps and stock front and rear bumpers. The original body-mounted spare-tire carrier is also maintained with the Old School package.


International HS 2.8L VNT
Configuration Inline four-cylinder
Displacement 2.8 liters
Bore x Stroke 93x102.5mm
Combustion System Direct injection
Cycle Diesel, four times
Injection System Rotary injection
Aspiration Variable-nozzle
Garrett turbo
Air Cooling Custom alloy intercooler
Power Output 135 hp @ 3,800 rpm
Peak Torque 276 lb-ft @ 1,400 rpm
Dimensions (LxWxH) 700x762x826 mm
Dry Weight 458.57 lbs (208 kg)

New {{{Venture}}} 4500 heavy-duty five-speed
Synchronization All gears
Main Case Cast iron
Shift Cover Aluminum alloy
Gear Bearing Caged roller
Mainshaft {{{Pilot}}} Straight roller
Lubrication Syntorq LT synthetic
75W-85 gear lubricant
Support Bearing Timken tapered roller
Input Thrust Flat thrust-bearing
Dry Weight 195 lbs
Rated Gross Vehicle Weight 3,750 lbs
Torque Rating 276 lb-ft
Oil Capacity, Transmission Only 4.5 quarts
PTO Standard six-bolt on
each side
HD Input Shaft 1-1/4-in 10-spline with
0.750-in pilot tip diameter
4x4 Output Shaft 29-spline
Gear Ratios
First 5.61:1
Second 3.04:1
Third 1.67:1
Fourth 1.00:1
Fifth 0.75:1
Reverse 5.04:1

Transfer CaseThe Advance Adapters Atlas II 3.8:1 Low-range (5.0:1 option available) and 1:1 High-range transfer case is CAD-CAM designed and CNC-machined. The one-piece case with structural access cover is manufactured of heat-treated aluminum alloy. The gears are precision-machined and are supported by needle roller bearings that are matched to finely finished shafts. The shafts, including the bulletproof 1-3/8-inch-diameter, 32-spline rear output shaft, are fully supported on tapered roller bearings. The Atlas transfer case also features the convenience of synchronized shift-on-the-fly capability. Twin-stick controls allow individual front and rear axle control.

Case Material Heat-treated
aluminum alloy
Overall Length 13.8 in
Weight 110 lbs (dry)
Gears Helical-cut
Bearings Needle and taper rollers
Synchronizers Borg-Warner T-98
Input-shaft Splines 10, 21, 23, 27, 28, 29, 31, 32
Tailshaft 1.375-in diameter, 32-
spline, CV joint capability
Low-range Ratio 3.8:1 or 5.0:1
High-range Ratio 1:1

Clutch System
Hydraulic system. McLeod precision 12-inch clutch. CNC NASCAR-spec alloy clutch master. McLeod slave cylinder. Stainless steel flex hose.

Fuel System
Custom fuel system with powdercoated steel fuel tank in the rear, boxed by the frame. Fuel-tank skidplate.

Motor Mounts
Fluid-filled and CAD-designed to isolate rumble.

The Icon's frame is based on the original, solid Land Cruiser double C-channel boxed-frame construction, reinforced, modified, and powdercoated by TLC to enhance rigidity, ride quality, and durability.

Front and rear purpose-built, all-new Dynatrac 44/60 axle assemblies. Reverse U-bolt fit to improve ground clearance. Custom-built to 3/4-1-ton standards.

4.09 ratio, limited-slip standard. ARB front/rear lockers optional.

Specially engineered ARB Dakar/Old Man Emu components. Enhanced wheelbase with extended rear springs. Polyurethane bushings with greasable pins and anti-inversion shackles, Old Man Emu gas shocks, custom-reversed U-bolt axle hangers for high clearance.

Four-wheel, slotted-and-vented, power-assisted disc brakes. Dual-diaphragm booster with GM-style master cylinder. Stainless steel flex lines.

J.E. Reel 1310 U-joints. New high-strength steel shaft bodies. Rear CV joint.

PSC 17.5:1 stage-four (four rotations left to right) steering box. Aircraft Aeroquip hoses. Industrial, 17-inch, black-powdercoat, three-spoke steering wheel. ididit custom tilt/collapsible steering column. Collapsible steering shaft with Borgeson joints. One-ton GM steering arms and ends. Designed for mild power effect and maximum control in all environments. Off-the-shelf components from top U.S. suppliers ensure ease of maintenance.

Reconfigured seating positions for four with three-point seat belts for all offer improved ergonomics and safety.

Exhaust Treatment
DCL Mine-X exhaust catalyst.

Radiator/Cooling System
Purpose-built, alloy, crossflow radiator with fan clutch and shroud. Custom alloy intercooler.

Custom Painless Performance wiring harness with waterproof, triple-seal connecters; sealed, contemporary microblade fuse panel, ignition, and all switches. Submersible high-beam floor switch. Halogen H485/120W headlights with integrated LED turn and running lights. Domed-head, knurled-edge, stainless steel dash-control knobs with engraved and hand-painted vintage font for function identification. Custom Westach gauges in smooth or optional, hand-finished, machine-turned, aluminum panel. Matched glovebox face with lock. 140-amp single-wire alternator. Optima battery.

The Environment
TLC built the Icon with the premise that the people who spend the most time in wild places have the greatest interest in preserving them. The Icon emits less harmful emissions in a day full of stop-and-go driving than the original Land Cruiser did idling in a parking lot. Its modern drivetrain design provides more than triple the horsepower and double the torque of the original 'Cruiser while reducing emissions and increasing efficiency thanks to its intelligent gearing, modern fuel-injection system, oxygen sensor circuit, and sealed fuel system. TLC further reduces environmental impact by recycling an older vehicle instead of producing a new one. No CFCs or VOCs are emitted in the production of the Icon. TLC remains committed to the development of diesel, biodiesel, and electric drivetrain designs.

Icon Pricing
$96,050-$130,000; depending on options.


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