The Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser is a four-wheeling legend, but when viewed in the context of today’s technology, some say that it’s an anachronism and ill-suited to the modern highways. An owner of a vintage FJ needing a refresh has some major choices to make: restore to stock, or nearly stock, or bring it up to modern technological standards. Kelly Pfledderer, of Indianapolis, faced such a choice but fortunately, his choice was easy and he could avoid becoming a target for restoration purists because his ’73 Land Cruiser was already a basket case and missing a lot of original gear.
Kelly was looking for an expedition-style Land Cruiser, one that was long distance capable on or off the highway, with good all-around trail capability and more than a little comfortable. Luckily, he had a very skilled, experienced, and renowned builder/fabricator nearby: John Conrad, of JB’s 4x4, of Kingman, Indiana (facebook.com/jbs-4x4). John gave Kelly everything he asked for and then some.
The FJ40 was first stripped down to a pile of parts. As usual with this vintage Toyota Land Cruiser (TLC), the original steel body was Swiss cheese, so an aluminum body from Aqualu Industries replaced it. The original top, doors, hood, and fenders were restored to full splendor in JB’s 4x4 shop. The body was then given many coats of PPG Dune Beige paint and reinstalled onto the Toyota chassis after it had been stripped, squared, repaired, and powdercoated black. From there, it got all new mechanicals, the details of which you can see in the pictures. It may still have a Toyota FJ40 soul, but the heart comes mostly from GM and Dana.
It took about a year for John to get this Land Cruiser from a corroded pile of parts to a renewed and modernized FJ40. It’s definitely understated and one of those rigs you can walk up to with few expectation and then spend an hour looking at the finely crafted details. Kelly is now getting to know his “new” FJ40 and looking forward to many adventures.
At A Glance
Vehicle: ’73 Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser
Owner: Kelly Pfledderer
Stomping grounds: Indianapolis, Indiana
Build time: One year
Engine: GM 5.3L V-8
Transmission: NV4500 five-spd manual
Transfer case(s): Dana 300
Low range ratio(s): 2.62:1
Crawl ratio(s): 60.3:1
Front axle/differential: Dana 44, Superior Axle & Gear axleshafts, 4.10:1 gears, JB’s 4x4 diff cover/ARB Air Locker
Rear axle/differential: Dana 60, disc brakes, 4.10:1 gears, JB’s 4x4 diff cover/ARB Air Locker
Front: Old Man Emu leaf springs, shackle reversal, Bilstein 5100 shocks
Rear: Old Man Emu leaf springs, Bilstein 5100 shocks
Steering: Custom JB’s 4x4, PSC custom steering box and hydro-assist
Tires: 33x10.50R17 BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain
Wheels: 17x8 American Racing Mojave
Lighting: ARB Intensity 7-in LED
Armor: Kaymar rear bumper, ARB front winch bumper, custom JB’s 4x4 fuel tank skidplate
Cool stuff: Warn Zeon 8-S winch, Fusion amplifier, Lowrance chartplotter, PSC hydro-assist steering, ARB twin-cylinder air compressor, Optima YellowTop batteries, National Luna Split Charge System, NOCO Genius Gen2 onboard waterproof charger, Roto Pax storage box, Bestop Trailmax II Pro seats, Alpine speakers, MOMO steering wheel, Dakota Digital instrumentation