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1969 Toyota Landcruiser FJ40 & 1985 Toyota 4Runner - The Heirloom & The Heavy Hitter

Posted in Features on October 1, 2009
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Although the concept of a single do-it-all rig is a good one, that perfect rig proves to be an elusive creature. Rather than strike out on a quest for the Loch Ness Monster of trail rigs, the Ahrensberg family of Poway, California, wisely widened their stable to include two Toyotas.

The first is a '69 FJ-40, which has been in the family since it was new. "I drove it in high school," Jamie Ahrensberg informs. "I'd take off at lunchtime with a couple of friends. We had some mud and dirt close to school, so that gave me a chance to do some off-roading between classes. We'd pull back into the parking lot, and people couldn't figure out where we'd been to get it so dirty. It was a lot of fun." Dan Ahrensberg, Jamie's father, was the original purchaser, and Dan sold the FJ to Jamie when his son turned 16.

Over the years, the FJ has been treated to a host of modifications and upgrades that give it capability well beyond what the Toyota engineers imagined. While upgrades indeed make a vehicle more capable, they lack the ability to keep the vehicle from getting scratched, bent, or otherwise worn as the years pass. It was time for a second rig: a rig upon which a few scratches, dents, or even a flop or two wouldn't matter.

Today Jamie and his sons Kyle and Matt can choose between the '69 FJ-40 and the heavy-hitting 4Runner Jamie bought on eBay. The 'Runner was built by S&N Fab in Arlington, Washington. The original client wanted a hunting rig that could take him anywhere in any weather. S&N delivered with a 4Runner that boasts hardcore axles, Chevy V-8 power, coilover suspension, and an interior that can be sealed against inclement weather. Instead of hunting game, the Ahrensbergs use the 4Runner to hunt for new trails, tricky lines through the rocks, and general off-road fun.

We had the chance to catch all three Ahrensbergs, the vintage FJ-40, and the heavy-hitting 4Runner in the Ocotillo Wells OHV area. Ocotillo Wells is best known for its dirt bike and prerunner-type terrain, but the trio showed us a few spots that were perfect for creepy-crawly trail work.

When you've got an heirloom and a heavy hitter ready and waiting, there are only two steps to adventure. One, take the right map, and two, grab the right set of keys.


Vehicle: 1969 Toyota Landcruiser FJ40
Owner/Hometown: Jamie Ahrensberg/Poway, California
Engine: 327 V-8 Chevy Corvette small block
Induction: Holley Pro-Jection
Transmission: Stock 4-speed
Transfer case: Stock
Front end: Stock with disc brake upgrade
Rear end: Stock with disc brake upgrade
Ring and Pinion: 4.56
Front Differential: ARB Air Locker
Rear Differential: ARB Air Locker
Suspension: Custom National leaf packs, spring-under, 16 inches longer than stock
Tires: 35x12.50R15 BFG Mud Terrain T/A
Wheels: 15x10 Enkei
Estimated Value: Priceless (it's an heirloom)

PhotosView Slideshow


Vehicle: 1985 Toyota 4Runner
Owner/Hometown: Jamie Ahrensberg/Poway, California
Engine: '98 5.7L Chevy Vortec
Induction: Stock EFI with K&N air filter
Transmission: 4L80-E
Transfer case/low range ratio: Atlas II 4.3/NP205 combo
Front end: Dana 60, 35-spline outers, locking hubs shaved for clearance
Rear end: GM 14-bolt full floater with disc brakes, chromoly axle shafts
Ring and Pinion: 4.56
Front Differential: ARB Air Locker
Rear Differential: Detroit Locker
Suspension: Custom linked systems by S&N Fab; King coilovers
Tires: 38x15.50R15 Parnelli Jones Dirt Grip
Wheels: 15x10 Trail Ready beadlocks
Estimated Value: Pricey! Purchased secondhand for pennies on the dollar.

PhotosView Slideshow

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