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1990 Toyota FJ-62 Land Cruiser Lift - Against The Grain

Posted in How To: Suspension Brakes on February 1, 2006
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In many unpaved regions of the world, Toyota Land Cruisers remain unarguably the vehicle of choice. Overseas, Land Cruisers have served as the standard platform for national police forces, forestry and utility agencies, and as farm implements for ranchers. Stateside, however, Land Cruisers are driven more on pavement than anywhere else. With the exclusion of a few well-known Land Cruiser-specific associations and clubs, these venerable trail machines spend the majority of their service life meandering through the paved confines of suburbia. That's why we decided to identify one popular version of the Land Cruiser, in this case the FJ-62, and showcase a few products that help emphasize the vehicle's pavement performance while improving trailability at the same time.

If there's one place where Land Cruisers spend more time in four-wheel drive than anywhere else, it's Australia, so it's no wonder that Australia-based companies develop some of the best aftermarket parts and accessories for Land Cruisers. Old Man Emu of Australia is well-known for its replacement leaf springs, suspension lifts, shocks, and steering stabilizers for Toyotas and other four-wheel drives. OME's philosophy is quality and sensibility without complications. As such, OME sizes its lift kits so that there are no problems with, or modifications required to, the steering, braking, or drivetrain.

We decided to test out one of OME's kits on a '90 FJ-62. Besides installing better leaf springs and shocks, we decided to correct the unnatural forward-moving front spring setup with a shackle reversal from Toyota specialists Man-A-Fre. Once we spoke with the experts about the products we wanted to fit on our donor vehicle, we decided a bigger tire would fit and (ideally) balance out the vehicle's boxy proportions.

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To improve streetability, we thought it might be good to switch from a mud-terrain tire to an all-terrain. We took our tire guru Jimmy Nylund's advice and tried a set of 35-inch Toyo Open Country ATs. These larger meats would improve the approach and departure angles while providing valuable additional ground clearance. These particular tires run quietly on pavement and provide excellent traction when conditions get slick.

A bigger tire begs for a larger wheel diameter so we opted to step up from the stock 15-inch rims to a 17-inch American Racing Mojave wheel with the nonstick black Teflon coating. Aside from a 1-inch spacer needed to correct backspacing, our owner was completely happy with the look of this tire and wheel package. The only weakness was gearing. With a larger tire, the Cruiser's stock 4.11:1s wouldn't cut it, so we ordered up a set of 4.56:1s from Precision Gear. Also, while we had the third members out, we thought we might as well throw in a limited-slip for the rear axle. We went with an Auburn limited-slip because it's nearly transparent on the street, and offers decent traction when conditions merit a posi.

The results? With the stock suspension in place and the vehicle riding on 32-inch rubber, ground clearance under each axle was no more than 9 inches at the lowest point. The SUV scored a whopping 471 on our 20-degree RTI ramp. Once our installs were completed, ground clearance had improved by 3.5 inches, and the SUV scored a more respectable 511 RTI. The good folks at Arabia's Automotive in Campbell, California, performed the trick installations.

PhotosView Slideshow


Toyo Tires
West Coast Differentials
Rancho Cordova, CA 95742
Simi Valley, CA 93063
Arabia's Automotive
Reider Racing Enterprises
Taylor, MI

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