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Toyota Obsession: 2008 Toyta FJ Cruiser

Posted in Project Vehicles on July 1, 2011
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Jeff Miller, of Lake Elsinore, California, had never been off-road before he purchased his 2008 Toyota FJ Cruiser brand-new in December of ’07. Now he says, “I can’t imagine my life without it. He goes on to say, “I still can’t figure out what the heck happened. If you would have told me then that I was going to take a completely good, brand-new vehicle and spend twice as much as it originally cost rebuilding it, I would’ve said you’re crazy.”

The catalyst for the buildup of his FJ was the ’08 FJ Cruiser Challenge, sponsored by the folks at All-Pro Off-Road. Held at the Hammers in Johnson Valley, California, Miller “watched in amazement” as FJs climbed Claw Hammer. “I couldn’t believe that any vehicle could make it up that trail,” he notes. “That’s how it started and became an obsession,” he adds.

The buildup was gradual. Miller says, “The first body damage was a little tough to take, but after bashing in every door and fender and breaking my taillights several times over, I have become kind of immune.” And like many of us, Miller is fixing and beefing components along the way. He says, “Lately I have found great joy in going fast in the desert. I was tracked on GPS in the whoops at 78 mph. Doing this has had its price and beckons me to continue to build this thing to handle it. My first insane attempt at hitting the whoops resulted in a broken shock mount, broken hydro-assist, and a twisted knuckle on the front axle. Yikes! After the photos were taken for this story, I hit it a little too hard again and busted a motor mount.” Has the carnage made Miller want to throw in the towel? We’ll let him answer that question: “This is the way that you find the weakness in your vehicle. You beat it until it breaks, and hopefully a time will come when it doesn’t break any more.”

Makes sense to us. And it looks as though Miller is on the right path.

»The Details
Owner/Hometown: Jeff Miller/Lake Elsinore, California
Vehicle/Model: 2008 Toyota FJ Cruiser
Estimated value: $100,000+
Type: 4.0L V-6
Aspiration: Fuel injected, Airaid intake, Doug Thorley headers
Output, hp/torque (estimated): 269/304
Transmission: Stock, Hayden cooler
Transfer Case: Atlas 3.8:1
Front: All-Pro Off-Road three-link, Fox 2.5 14-in-travel remote-reservoir coilover shocks, Fox 2.0 4-in-travel air bumps
Rear: All-Pro Off-Road four-link, Fox 2.5 14-in-travel remote-reservoir shocks
Front: Currie RockJock II, Currie chromoly axleshafts and stub stafts, Wilwood disc brakes, Howe Performance Ram Assist, All-Pro pitman arm, Warn Premium hubs/ARB Air Locker
Rear: Currie RockJock II, Currie chromoly axleshafts, Wilwood disc brakes/ARB Air Locker
Ring and pinion: Motive Gear 4.88:1
Wheels: 17x8.5 Walker Evans beadlock Tires: 42x14.0/17 Super Swamper IROK

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