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1966 Toyota FJ45 Land Cruiser Troopy - One Trick Troopy

Posted in Features on February 23, 2015
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Photographers: Michael Barley

You never forget your first car. That’s whether you’re fortunate enough to get something new and shiny, or like many of us, scrapped together summer job dollars to purchase something with four wheels that hopefully ran most of time. Tim McGrath’s first car was a ’74 Toyota FJ40 he bought while in high school. He owned it for about 14 years and then, regrettably, sold it. That first FJ filled him with a deep passion for Land Cruisers that persists to this day.

Fast forward a bit. Tim and wife, Jennifer, had an aged FJ45 pickup and had plans to restore it for camping trips and backcountry exploring. However, after having two kids, they decided a more spacious cab would be more accommodating for the whole family. With the FJ45 longbed pickup sharing the same frame as the FJ45 Land Cruiser Troopy, Tim thought of doing a conversion. This family was a four-wheel-drive family, so a minivan just wouldn’t do.

The rear carrier supports a spare tire, Maxtrax recovery boards, a Hi-Lift jack, and spare fuel/fluid cans. Tires of choice are 37-inch BFGoodrich Krawlers on Walker Evans beadlocks.

Tim contacted Don Haywood at Wolf Creek Rod Works in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, to execute his plan based on a concept drawing. The original FJ45 body and bed were sold to make way for a custom body. A donor ’66 FJ40 was cut behind the door pillars and the forward portion retained. An extended rear body section was fabricated by PACOL, including a custom flat floor for the passenger compartment. Then, the ’66 cowl was skillfully mated to the new rear section with the body length adjusted to match the original FJ45 LWB chassis. The front fenders are new OEM pieces, while the doors, hood, and front bib are original from the FJ45. Finally, the body was shot with PPG two-stage paint in Porsche meteor grey metallic.

With the retro, custom body complete, a Chevy Ram Jet 350, NV4500 manual transmission, and Orion 4:1 T-case were dropped in the chassis. The OEM axles were rebuilt and stuffed with ARB Air Lockers, 4.11 gears, and four-wheel disc brakes. The result is a rig that can cruise the highway comfortably, stop smooth and quick, and idle slowly down rocky trails with the deeper transfer case gearing. The suspension remains traditional leaf spring, but custom Alcan packs were used along with Bilstein 7100 shocks to greatly upgrade the ride and travel over the original suspension. A Saginaw power steering conversion provides improved comfort and reduces effort to turn the 37-inch BFGoodrich Krawlers on Walker Evans beadlock wheels.

Between the front framerails sits a Chevy Ram Jet 350ci V-8 from Chevy Performance with a GM serpentine belt system. Cooling comes from a Griffin crossflow aluminum radiator in combination with dual Spal 11-inch fans that are independently controlled. A beefy CS144 alternator supplies up to 200 amps of current to support all accessories and keeps the twin Optima YellowTop batteries topped off. Plumbing and wiring is immaculate.

Tim and Jennifer wanted a rig the family could use to travel highway distances for camping trips and for exploring remote areas. A full eight-point rollcage keeps everyone inside safe and a custom soft top can seal out the weather or be rolled up for a more open ride.

It was a long wait of about four years to slide into the driver seat of this unique Cruiser, but Tim and Jennifer are pleased with the outcome. Tim shared that the most difficult part of the build was in marrying the front section of the FJ40 to the manufactured rear section and getting everything aligned. Take a look at the images here, and you’ll see the effort was well worth it.

The McGrath’s got a head-turning rig that can competently get them down the road and into the dirt. We think you’ll agree.

Inside, the traditional look and feel of the classic FJ interior has been preserved, yet complimented. An Ididit tilt steering column and Momo wheel provide comfort and a stable link to the powered Saginaw steering box that now sits on the frame. Auto Meter gauges are tastefully clustered above the column and the center of the dash supports a large-screen Lowrance GPS unit. Vintage Air A/C/heat/defrost keeps interior conditions comfortable under all weather conditions. The doors have functional original “bug catcher” windwings.

At a Glance
Vehicle: 1966 Toyota FJ45 Land Cruiser Troopy
Owners: Tim & Jennifer McGrath
Stomping Grounds: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Build Time: Four years

Engine: GM Ram Jet 350 V-8, EFI
Transmission: NV4500 five-speed manual
Transfer case: Advance Adapters Orion, twin stick
Low range ratio: 4.0:1
Crawl ratio: 92.2:1
Front axle/differential: ‘66 Land Cruiser, 4.11 gears, ARB Air Locker, Wilwood disc brakes
Rear axle/differential: ‘66 Land Cruiser, 4.11 gears, ARB Air Locker, Man-a-Fre disc brake conversion

Front: Alcan leaf springs, Bilstein 7100 shocks, shackle reversal
Rear: Alcan leaf springs, Bilstein 7100 shocks
Steering: Ididit tilt column, Saginaw power steering conversion

Tires: 37x12.50R17 BFGoodrich Krawlers
Wheels: 17x8.5 Walker Evans beadlocks

Interior: Mastercraft suspension seats and harnesses
Cool stuff: Lowrance GPS, Warn 9.5cti winch, Vintage Air A/C/heater/defrost, custom soft top, eight-point rollcage

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