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A Rare 1968 FJ45 Gets a Second Lease on Life

Posted in Features on September 25, 2018
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FJ40 Toyota Land Cruisers command huge money these days, and the irony is that the more stock they are, the more they are worth, even with drum brakes and manual steering. Ed Moore had an FJ40 that he modified for rockcrawling with a small-block Chevy and spring-over suspension back when 40 Series were affordable. As the market has changed, so has Ed. He sold the rockcrawler and began his search for a blank canvas he could turn into a restomod.

A mere FJ40 wouldn’t do though. Ed was looking for an FJ45 pickup. He works at Proffitt’s Resurrection Land Cruisers and sees beautifully restored FJ40s every day. While roughly 120,000 Land Cruisers were imported to the U.S. between 1960 and 1984, less than 1 percent of those were FJ45 pickups.

Ed searched for over a year for this short-wheelbase (SWB) FJ45 before finding it in Wolf Point, Montana. “I drove two days on ice packed roads to get this thing!” he confesses.

After bringing the FJ45 home, he and the staff of Proffitt’s Resurrection Land Cruisers completely … well, resurrected the Land Cruiser. The paint, body, and interior all look like they just rolled off the showroom floor. The modification part of the restomod involved adding a 3FE six-cylinder engine with factory fuel injection, an imported H55F five-speed manual transmission, disc brakes, and Saginaw steering. Those thoughtful upgrades make the FJ45 much more of a pleasure to drive without ruining the character of the truck. And drive it Ed does, every chance he gets.

It is tough to tell that this is not the factory engine, but power comes from a Toyota 3FE six-cylinder. This is a direct descendent of the original F engine, but bumps horsepower from 105 to 155. The fuel injection makes the Land Cruiser much easier to drive, particularly considering the wide swings in elevation that Ed frequents in Western Colorado.
The color is often mistaken for the Calvary Blue offered on FJ Cruisers, but it is actually River Blue (Paint Code 431). All the bodywork and paint was done in-house at Proffitt’s Resurrection Land Cruiser.
A Saginaw power steering box was added to replace the overly complex factory bellcrank steering. The box is fed by the Toyota power steering pump and reservoir that came on the donor 3FE engine and look perfectly natural under the hood.
The front axle is a rebuilt unit out of an FJ60 Land Cruiser. The axle is 3 inches wider than the factory axle, and it comes with disc brakes, larger pattern knuckles, and a stronger fine-spline pinion gear. The axle is filled with 3.73 gears and an open differential.
The front suspension uses simple but smooth-riding Old Man Emu leaf springs in conjunction with Bilstein 5100 monotube shocks. Proffitt’s Resurrection Land Cruisers moved the shackles to the rear of the springs to allow for a smoother ride on and off the road.
The rear axle is a match to the front. The 60 Series axle is offset to match the Toyota transfer case and uses 3.73 gears and an open differential. These axles are somewhat unique in that they have a removable third member but also a diff cover to access the C-clips in order to remove the axleshafts. Using a 60 Series rear axle allowed the use of a factory parking brake, since the original transfer-case-mounted brake was removed when the case was replaced with a newer, stronger unit.
The rear suspension uses Old Man Emu Dakar leaf springs along with Bilstein 5100 monotube shocks. The spring pack is huge, paying homage to these trucks’ original design as workhorses. With multiple thin leaves and Teflon sliders between them, the ride is surprisingly supple.
The interior of the FJ45 is just as beautiful as the exterior. There is a minimal amount of plastic inside the Land Cruiser; it’s mostly blue and gray steel. The heater was restored for those cold Colorado winters, and the distinctly Toyota gearshift plate on the glovebox was replicated to match the swapped in five-speed transmission.
Rolling stock consists of skinny 255/85R16 Cooper ST Maxxs mounted on factory steel wheel centers that were converted from 15-inch to 16-inch and capped with reproduction hubcaps. Owner Ed Moore was concerned about the truck looking like a roller skate with the wider 60 Series axles, so the fabrication team at Proffitt’s Resurrection Land Cruisers recentered the wheels with the deep backspacing.

Tech Specs

1968 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ45
Engine: Toyota 3FE 6-cylinder
Transmission: H55F 5-speed manual
Transfer Case: 88 Toyota split case
Front Axle: 60 Series with 3.73 gears
Rear Axle: 60 Series with 3.73 gears
Springs & Such: Old Man Emu leaf springs and Bilstein 5100 shocks (front and rear)
Tires & Wheels: 255/85R16 Cooper Discoverer ST Maxx on widened factory wheels
Steering: Proffitt’s Resurrection Land Cruisers Saginaw conversion
Lighting: OEM Toyota
Other Stuff: Saginaw steering conversion, Proffitt’s Resurrection Land Cruisers shackle reversal

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