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November 2009 Old As Dirt

Posted in Features on November 1, 2009
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Forty-five years ago this month, Four Wheeler paid a visit to the Land of Standing Rocks in the Utah Canyonlands, where the cover photo was taken. We savored the rock formations, Indian petroglyphs, and some challenging backcountry driving that we called "among the most enjoyable vacations any of us has ever had." We also published a couple of stories from the backroads of Baja-then as now, a wheeler's paradise-and we spent a little time looking at a "pleasant surprise" for the "growing fraternity of four wheelers who prefer the station wagon."

Specifically, it was the long-wheelbase version of Toyota's 40-series Land Cruiser-the FJ-45V four-door wagon-that caught our attention. Only offered in the U.S. for three years (it was replaced in '67 by the more familiar 50-series), this "massively built" rare rig ran on a 104.3-inch wheelbase and was powered by the durable 238ci F-series six-cylinder that was good for 135 horsepower and a pretty-good-for-its-day 217 lb-ft of torque at 2,000 rpm. A three-speed and 3.70:1 axles were the standard drivetrain, and the "probably more popular" 4:11s were an available stateside option. "Its rugged construction is proved in the basic weight, 4,070 pounds," we noted, adding that the 'Cruiser had "exceptional room" for six passengers and 880 pounds of additional weight. We can see why the old-timers were impressed with this rig-we recently caught a glimpse of a very-well-preserved example in the parking lot next to our offices recently, and we can vouch for the fact that they are very, very cool.

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