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1962 Toyota FJ40 with Modern Drivability in a Patina Package

Posted in Features on September 14, 2017
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“It takes a lot of searching to find the correct candidate for a project like this,” Jeremiah Proffitt told us as we headed into the forest riding in his latest project, a 1962 FJ40 Land Cruiser. Jeremiah is the owner of Proffitt’s Resurrection Land Cruisers and has performed some modern upgrades to this Cruiser while preserving the patina on the 55-year-old body. He has owned plenty of cut-up rockcrawlers, but he does appreciate the timeless appeal of faded paint and dog-dish hubcaps. And unlike some, he is not a Toyota purist. Updates include a Ramjet 350 crate engine with 350 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque backed by a four-speed automatic transmission along with power steering, disc brakes, cruise control, and air conditioning, which all made for a much more enjoyable drive down our dusty washboard road.

Over two-thirds of the patina on this Land Cruiser is original. Some had to be re-created due to repairs in the body and the rear wheel openings being moved back to accommodate a stretched wheelbase. The fiberglass top was sprayed with clear to waterproof it, while the rest of the paint was left alone so the aging process could continue. Proffitt said, “This FJ40 was found in the Utah desert, where it had spent most of its life developing just the kind of look worth preserving for another 50 years.” We couldn’t agree more.

Toyota purists may revolt, but it’s hard to beat the bang-for-the-buck of the 350hp Chevrolet Ramjet 350 crate engine. A modern GM 4L80E automatic transmission was selected over the 4L60E because with the T-case adapter it’s nearly 2 inches shorter, which makes room for a longer rear driveshaft, a typical concern in any short-wheelbase vehicle. The 1-ton-rated transmission was treated to a stock rebuild before being slung between the framerails. A twin ARB compressor is mounted by the driver-side fender, while an Optima RedTop battery sits on the opposite side of the engine bay.
The front bumper is a beefed-up version built by Proffitt’s Resurrection Land Cruisers to resemble the factory bumper and houses a Warn 8274 winch with synthetic rope. The bezel is an original 1962 piece, which is the only year “Land Cruiser” was stamped into the bezel itself. Jeremiah Proffitt tells us it is extremely rare and hard to find, and he was able to source this one from eBay. Truck-Lite LED headlights provide enough light to keep up with the increased speeds made possible by the modern drivetrain.
The front suspension uses a Proffitt’s Resurrection Land Cruisers shackle reversal with 2 1/2-inch Old Man Emu leaf springs. The front axle is from a 1978 FJ40 and is stuffed with chromoly axleshafts, 4.11:1 gears, and an ARB Air Locker. Disc brakes were added to bring the 33-inch BFGoodrich M-Ts on stock Toyota steel wheels to a stop on the street and trail.
Heated seats from a 100 Series Land Cruiser were swapped in after being recovered in alligator skin material. Tuffy Security Products is based not too far from Proffitt’s Resurrection Land Cruisers in Delta, Colorado, so one of Tuffy’s locking center console was painted to match the red patina theme of the Cruiser. Surrounding the occupants is a six-point rollcage that is tied into the frame at all points. Rigid Industries LED dome lights light up the interior when needed.
An Advance Adapters Orion 4:1 transfer case is mated to the 4L80 and actuated by a twin-stick shifter that controls the high and low range in both two- and four-wheel drive. The cast iron case is protected by a custom crossmember and skidplate that had just enough real estate for the 3-inch single exhaust to route to a MagnaFlow muffler before exiting out the rear corner. The original drum brake on the rear output of the T-case acts as the emergency brake.
The rear axle also comes from a 1978 FJ40 and is stuffed with 4.11:1 gears, an ARB Air Locker, and a disc brake conversion. The rear suspension is spring-under using 2 1/2-inch OME leaf springs with Bilstein 5125 monotube shocks. The rear axle was pushed back 3 1/2 inches, and the stock wheel openings were sectioned and moved back the same amount to retain a factory look. The chassis, axles, and leaf springs are all powdercoated in a color called breccia to resemble rust. A Rigid Industries LED light is tucked under the frame as a reverse light.
While it looks old on the outside, inside the Cruiser is modern with Dakota Digital instrumentation above the Flaming River tilt steering column. Auxiliary switches occupy the ashtray next to the custom-made dash plaque with the new shift pattern. A Vintage Air A/C unit is bolted in just under the dash to keep things cool while cruising the trail. Inside the tub is sprayed with Vortex liner with a bit of brown mixed in to give a durable finish that resembles rust. A Lokar shifter selects the gears in the 4L80E.

Tech Specs

1962 Toyota FJ40
>Drivetrain
Engine: Chevrolet Performance Ram Jet 350 5.7L V-8
Transmission: GM 4L80E 4-speed automatic
Transfer Case: Advance Adapters Orion 4:1
Front Axle: 1978 FJ40 axle with 4.11 gears, chromoly axleshafts, ARB Air Locker, disc brakes
Rear Axle: 1978 FJ40 axle with 4.11 gears, ARB Air Locker, disc brakes
>Suspension
Springs & Such: 2 1/2-inch OME leaf springs, Proffitt’s Resurrection Land Cruisers shackle reversal (front), Bilstein 5125 shocks
Tires & Wheels: 33x10.5R15 BFG MT KM2 on Toyota steel
Steering: Saginaw power steering conversion, Flaming River tilt steering column
Lighting: Truck-Lite LED headlights, Rigid Industries dome and reverse lights
Other Stuff: Tuffy console, ARB twin air compressor, 100 Series Land Cruiser heated leather seats, Vintage Air AC, Warn 8274 winch, 6-point rollcage tied into frame, Dakota Digital instrumentation, Vortex spray-on liner, extended wheelbase

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