An FJ80 Land Cruiser showcases some trick trail mods-while staying true to its luxury heritage
What has coil springs, solid axles, and lockers front and rear? Did you say the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon? Well, what if we add luxury to that list? Give up? It's Toyota's FZJ80 Land Cruiser. In 1991, Toyota introduced the 80-series Land Cruiser to replace the more utilitarian FJ62. In 1993, they did one better by adding the 1FZE motor and optional factory electric lockers, front and rear. Although well regarded in Toyota circles, these vehicles are still relatively unknown to the four-wheel community at large. One person who has really tapped the potential of these rigs is Christo Slee of Slee Off-Road. In Slee's native South Africa, Land Cruisers are better known as strong, reliable expedition vehicles than luxury SUVs.
When we stopped by Slee's shop in Golden, Colorado recently, we weren't surprised when we found a built Cruiser in the bay. Lynn Jankovsky was having the African Outback Drawer system in his '93 FZJ80 outfitted with a power inverter. After a quick phone call, we made plans to head to Spring Creek with Jankovsky and his rig. He explained how he had purchased the vehicle new in 1992. There was a waiting list for these vehicles, and he had an order in for a green model with factory lockers. Months later, the dealership called to tell him they had a burgundy model, sans lockers. Clearly he was not too upset, because he is still driving the Land Cruiser today.
Early on, Jankovsky added ARB Air Lockers to compensate for the lack of factory lockers and to provide more traction when negotiating the way to mountain-bike trailheads in Moab. Like many of us, it was not long before four-wheeling changed from reaching the destination to being the destination for Jankovsky. Soon, the truck was in Slee's shop for the full meal deal. The suspension is a Slee Off-Road suspension kit, comprised of Slee 6-inch-lift coil springs, long-travel Old Man Emu shocks, sway-bar relocation brackets, double-cardan front driveshafts, and Slee Off-Road front control arms. This provides a smooth ride on street and trail, coupled with impressive articulation and room for the 35-inch Goodyear MT/R tires mounted on stock rims.
On the drive from Denver, Jankovsky apologized for the driveline vibration. Slee was using Jankovsky's rig to prototype the spring rates and handling of some new 4-inch lift springs, and a vibration resulted due to the rest of the suspension not currently being adjusted for the lift. (We tried to keep a straight face while thinking about our open-topped, Swamper-shod rig in comparison.) Further luxury was provided by the heated and vented Recaro seats that were added after the stock leather had become cracked and worn. The stock rear seats were recovered in matching fabric for an integrated look. The dash contains an Alpine head unit and Cobra CB. The head unit is connected to an Apple iPod that dispenses classical music from the glovebox. Instrumentation is largely stock, with a few notable exceptions. A hand throttle and center diff-lock button were added as factory Toyota parts available only on overseas Land Cruisers-this is where Slee's South African heritage shows. VDO gauges monitor exhaust gas temperature and boost.
That boost is provided to the 1FZE motor by a TRD supercharger. Although the '93-'94 FZJ80s are less receptive than the '95-'97 models due to the use of a flapper door-type airflow meter instead of a mass airflow meter with a heated wire, Jankovsky had his heart set on more power. "How many vehicles can you add forced induction to after 100,000 miles?" Jankovsky asked rhetorically. These motors contain seven main bearings and are world renowned for their durability, as are the transmissions and transfer case. The A442F four-speed automatic is a huge component, and the H2FAV transfer case features a center differential and 2.488 low range. A fuel pump from a turbocharged Supra and a rising-rate fuel regulator were added to feed the motor, and exhaust gases are expelled through a custom after-cat system.
On the trail, the combination performed flawlessly. The snow we encountered was shallow enough to allow the heavy Land Cruiser to plow through it, and the supple coil suspension and torquey inline six gobbled up any rocks in our path. The wheelbase and size provide a good compromise between stability and maneuverability. Our only complaint was the relative lack of ground clearance, but the ARB and Slee body armor provide plenty of protection when the rocks get too big to scale.
Jankovsky also owns a later-model UZJ100 Land Cruiser, but normally lets his daughter drive the newer and more docile Cruiser. (Sorry, Jankovsky is not adopting-we already asked.) "There just aren't as many parts available for the newer rigs," he explained. Slee is working hard to change that, though; despite the change to independent front suspension, he feels the UJ100 is a capable platform. "Pretty soon I'll have two Cruisers that don't fit in the garage," Jankovsky joked. Two built luxury vehicles-couldn't we all use problems like that?
Owner: Lynn Jankovsky, Denver, Colorado
Vehicle/Model: '93 Toyota Land Cruiser FZJ80
Estimated Value: N/A
Engine: 1FZE 4.5L I-6
Horsepower (est.): 300
Torque (est.): N/A
Aspiration: TRD supercharger, custom exhaust
Transmission: A442F four-speed auto
Transfer case: HF2AV two-speed
Front: Two-link with Panhard rod, 6-inch Slee coil springs, control arms
Rear: Four-link with Panhard rod, 6-inch Slee coil springs, adjustable rear upper arms
Front: Toyota 8-inch, ARB Air Locker
Rear: Toyota 8-inch, ARB Air Locker
Wheels: Stock 16x8 aluminum
Tires: 315/75R16 Goodyear MT/R