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1963 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ45: Old and New But Toyota Through and Through

Posted in Features on March 27, 2017
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Justin Reece has owned a bunch of Toyota Land Cruisers, but he isn’t one of those purists who turn their nose up at any part that doesn’t have “TEQ” stamped on it. Justin’s last FJ40 was practically a buggy, complete with a Chevy V-8 and 1-ton axles. He reached the finish line at King of the Hammers in 2009 in that Land Cruiser. This time Justin wanted something less rowdy and more reliable to take on trips to Baja and let his wife Kelly drive around town.

In 2006 Justin bought this FJ45 pickup, although it didn’t look anything like what you see here. FJ45s are rare, and as such they command top dollar, even when they have a flatbed and have been used to haul wood their entire life. Justin bought an orange basket case for a project, and while he was deciding which direction it would take, his friend Neil Austin totaled his 1998 Tacoma. Justin bought the truck from the insurance company and combined the two Toyota pickups to produce one truck with classic styling, modern conveniences, and legendary Toyota reliability.

Tech Specs

1963 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ45
Engine: 5VZFE 3.4L V-6
Transmission: R150F 5-speed manual
Transfer Case: Tacoma, chain driven
Front Axle: Flipped Toyota FJ60 with 4.88 gears, welded differential, and Longfield axles
Rear Axle: Toyota 8.4-inch with 4.88 gears, ARB Air Locker, and Sky disc brake brackets
Springs & Such: Alcan leaf springs with Bilstein 5150 shocks (front and rear)
Tires & Wheels: 37x12.50R17 BFGoodrich Krawler KXs on 17x9 Raceline Monster beadlocks
Steering: FJ60 steering box, Marlin High Steer, Howe hydraulic ram
Other Stuff: ARB rooftop tent, custom Parker Garrett 30-gallon aluminum fuel cell, ARB air compressor, custom rollcage, MR2 brake booster, Vintage Air heater, Auto Meter gauges, TJ rear flares

Power comes from a 190hp 5FV-FE. The 3.4L V-6 engine is mated to the original Tacoma five-speed manual transmission and chain-driven T-case to eliminate the need for any aftermarket adapters. Justin Reece has considered adding a TRD supercharger in the future, but it is not a priority.
The clean and functional theme extends to the interior, where Justin’s wife, Kelly, had the factory seats reupholstered. A RustyNailRacing cluster holds a host of Auto Meter gauges in front of the GM-style column and Grant steering wheel. Justin built the interior cage and modified the factory doghouse to fit over the five-speed transmission.
The front axle is out of an FJ60 Land Cruiser. Justin cut off the knuckles and flipped over the housing to make it driver-side drop to match the Tacoma T-case. The bolt pattern for the third member is symmetrical, so he stated that this was fairly straightforward. He dialed in 6.5 degrees of caster when welding the knuckles back on and filled the axle with 4.88 gears, a welded differential, Longfield Birfields, and factory Aisin hubs.
The front suspension uses Alcan leaf springs and 14-inch-travel Bilstein 5150 shocks on tubular shock mounts. The Marlin Crawler billet steering arms move the tie rod and drag link above the leaf springs. A Howe hydraulic ram works with the FJ60 power steering box to turn the 37s easily, even with the welded front differential.
The rear axle out of the Tacoma was upgraded with 4.88 gears, an ARB Air Locker, and disc brakes using a kit from Sky’s Off Road Design. Behind the axle, Parker Garrett built a custom aluminum fuel cell that uses the factory Tacoma fuel pump and sending unit for simplicity.
The rear suspension uses Alcan leaf springs on reinforced factory mounts in conjunction with Bilstein 5150 shocks that are angled to allow full articulation without having to poke up through the bed floor. Justin was able to reuse the Tacoma rear driveline and built a custom exhaust that places the muffler sideways to exit ahead of the big fuel tank.
Justin built mounts that place the ARB rooftop tent high enough for him to access the pickup bed yet low enough to make it easy to set up the tent. The rack unbolts to allow him to load motorcycles in the bed. Hundreds of hours went into the body before it was sprayed in Toyota Spring Green by Bob Quin. The frame is coated with POR15 for rust resistance.
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