Click for Coverage
Due to the EU’s Global Data Protection Regulation, our website is currently unavailable to visitors from most European countries. We apologize for this inconvenience and encourage you to visit for the latest on new cars, car reviews and news, concept cars and auto show coverage, awards and much more.MOTORTREND.COM
  • JP Magazine
  • Dirt Sports + Off-Road
  • 4-Wheel & Off-Road
  • Four Wheeler

1972 Toyota FJ40 - Lone Star 4x4s

Posted in Project Vehicles on July 1, 2002
Share this

Bill Davidson was just eight years old in 1972 when he accompanied his father, Terry, to a Toyota dealership in Colorado to purchase this '72 Toyota FJ-40. From then on, the 'Cruiser was part of the family. Throughout the '70s, long before 'wheeling came into vogue, it carried the Davidson family over innumerable Colorado trails like Red Cone and Holy Cross, deep into the Colorado backcountry. When Bill graduated from the San Antonio Fire Academy in 1990, his father gave him the truck. By then it was in sad shape, having been rolled and flooded, and it was, in most people's minds, totaled. Davidson spent the next 18 months totally restoring the FJ, doing all of the engineering, fabrication, welding, wiring, and painting to create the stunning vehicle you see here.

The stock Toyota differential sports an ARB Air Locker, and the whole works is suspended by a spring-over with custom leaf-springs. Four Rancho RS 9000 adjustable shocks absorb bumps, and a top-mounted truss adds strength to the housing.

The 403ci Oldsmobile V-8 nestled between the framerails of the Toyota is a story in itself. In 1979, Terry Davidson was given one of six factory Pikes Peak Hill Climb high-performance engines. This engine was adapted to the FJ straight out of its crate, and it provided years of service. In 1990, the engine was still intact, but tired, so Bill Davidson completely rebuilt the engine, and enhanced it with Holley ProJection, an Offenhauser dual-port intake manifold, a GM HEI distributor, MSD ignition, and dual exhaust. He also upgraded the alternator to a 150-amp unit and added an Optima battery. He rebuilt the SM420 transmission, installed in 1979 along with the engine, using an Advance Adapters kit, and also rebuilt the stock Toyota transfer case-a "three-speed" unit, to you Toyota aficionados.

Underneath the truck, Bill boxed the front framerails and added custom crossmembers. He then bolted in a custom spring-over Toyota axle with leaf-spring suspension, Teflon inserts, and Rancho RS 9000 shocks. The stock Toyota differentials were rebuilt and fitted with ARB Air Lockers and 4.10 gears. He beefed the rear axle with a homemade truss and he added a pair of Toyota disc brakes to the front axle. He fabbed a custom crossover steering system from 5/8-inch-wall tubing, and installed titanium rod ends to ensure flexibility. The steering system is powered by a Cadillac power-steering pump with remote firewall-mounted reservoir, and a steering box from a Ford E-350 van. Custom CV-jointed driveshafts deliver power to the differentials, which turn 39.5x18-15 tires that are mounted on 15x14 custom wheels.

The interior sports reupholstered Acura seats, Auto Meter gauges, a Grant steering wheel, custom milled aluminum dash, and a dash-mounted switch box for controlling the ARB Air Lockers.

The body of the 'Cruiser was completely restored before being fitted with a wide array of functional bolt-on items. The custom front bumper is made from 4 1/2-inch-OD tubing, and it features a brushguard and a custom winch mount for the 9,000-pound Viking winch. The bumper also holds a pair of KC lights, a Hi-Lift jack, and a pair of shackles. The rear bumper and the nerf bars are also fabbed from 4 1/2-inch-OD tubing, and like the front bumper, the rear bumper sports a pair of shackles. Other custom exterior components include a Kayline soft top, custom rear tire holder and rack assembly, diamond-plate body protection, and loads of spare parts and tools.

Inside the Toyota, Davidson wanted to be comfortable, so he added a pair of reupholstered Acura seats. He also wanted it to be functional, so he installed a number of Auto Meter gauges. They reside behind a handsome custom-milled aluminum dash plate. Safety was also a concern, so he fabbed a six-point rollcage that ties directly to the vehicle's frame, and he installed four-point racing harnesses for the driver and passenger.

Since completing the Toyota, the Davidsons have logged more than 5,000 miles of four-wheeling, exploring Utah, Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming, and Texas. Bill recently built another trick '72 for his father, but that's another story altogether.

Owner Bill Davidson, San Antonio, Texas
Vehicle model 1972 Toyota FJ-40
Estimated value n/a

Type Factory modified ‘79 Oldsmobile V-8
Displacement (ci) 403
Aspiration Holley ProJection, Offenhauser dual-port intake, dual exhaust

Transmission SM420
Transfer case Stock Toyota

Front Custom leaf spring, single Rancho RS 9000 shocks
Rear Custom leaf spring, dual Rancho RS 9000 shocks

Front/rear Stock Toyota, ARB Air Lockers
Ring-and-pinion 4.10

Ring-and-pinion 15x14 custom steel
Tires 39.5x18-15 Boggers

Connect With Us

Newsletter Sign Up

Subscribe to the Magazine

Browse Articles By Vehicle

See Results