An FJ-40 With Modern Appeal
Jack Adams has had the Toyota 4x4 bug for many years now. His first trail truck was a 1985 4Runner that he acquired in stock condition. As he tackled tougher trails, it evolved in many directions so that today only a few feet of stock framerail remain, and that is now surrounded by a serious V-8 rock buggy.
While that buggy sees a lot of use, Jack yearned for a simpler rig that was street-legal and could take him out camping and exploring milder desert trails. A chance find in a Craigslist ad sent him down the road on a new project with the acquisition of a basket-case 1964 FJ-40. Jack quickly purchased the pile of vintage Toyota parts and dragged them home on a trailer. More antiquated Toy pieces would follow, along with piles of other parts to revive this old Cruiser.
Modern hot-rodders use a term called "restomod" to denote a vintage car that has been partially restored or modified with newer-technology mechanical components. This was Jack's plan as well. He wanted the classic good looks of the FJ40 combined with a newer powerplant.
The frame and tub were both sandblasted to clear away all the old paint and rust, then the steel parts underwent body repair and upgrades. When it came time to lay down some new finishes on the body, much of it was covered with Toyota Rustic Green #621 paint. The interior of the tub and the underside were shot with Duplicolor bedliner material.
For smooth road power, Jack opted to drop in a late-model Chevy V-8, a tried-and-true TH350 automatic, and follow those with a Toyota truck transfer case. The stock front Cruiser axle was retained, but upgraded with some newer-vintage Toyota parts. The rear stock Cruiser axle was replaced with a more modern Toy mini-truck axle, which eliminated the internal C-clips, and the brakes were swapped to disc units. Both axles are mounted in spring-under configuration.
The end result is the cool rig you see on these pages: A classic 4x4 combined with thoughtful upgrades to bring this vehicle more than 40 years into the future. It's also a great example of a project many of us can do at home. Searching and collecting the parts you need can be done as the buildup progresses, and it can be done without breaking the bank. Jack's rig is a great example of breathing new life into an older vehicle.
Owner/Hometown: Jack Adams/Phoenix, Arizona
Vehicle/Model: 1964 Toyota FJ40
Estimated value: N/A
Type: Chevy 5.3L V-8
Aspiration: Factory EFI, Howell harness & ECU, custom 2 1/2-in dual exhaust with Flowmaster mufflers
Output, hp/torque (estimated): 300/335
Transmission: TH350, Advance Adapters adapter, Lokar shifter
Transfer Case: Toyota mini gear-drive w/2.28:1 low-range
Front: Toyota truck leaf springs, Bilstein 5100 shocks, U-bolt flip
Rear: Toyota truck leaf springs, Bilstein 5100 shocks, U-bolt flip
Front: '69 FJ-40 housing/third member with mini-truck knuckles, late-model 4Runner calipers, FJ-60 vented rotors
Rear: Toyota mini truck w/Chevy disc brake conversion
Ring and pinion: 4.11:1
Wheels: 15x8 Mickey Thompson Classic II
Tires: 35x12.50/15 BFGoodrich KM2