A Toyota Built to Explore America
Arriving in the United States from Australia in 2007, Ben Lawley and his wife Lauren immediately set out to find a 4x4 that would help them explore this great country. Ben and Lauren are both from four-wheeling families and grew up with a number of FJs and Land Cruisers. Their natural instinct was to get into a capable Toyota that could help them explore some of America’s toughest and most remote locations.
After fiddling around with an underpowered Jeep JK, Ben picked up an ’08 Toyota FJ Cruiser and also found himself as shop manager at Man-A-Fre Advanced Off-Road Solutions, a great place to start building a Toyota.
Ben’s FJ was used for R&D at the shop and built into what was thought to be a very capable IFS 4x4. However, after a number of wheeling trips it was parked quite often due to broken IFS components. With only 3,000 miles on the odometer, the FJ was again parked at his buddy’s shop with a plan to build it into a dependable and capable solid-axle FJ Cruiser for adventure in the great American outback.
In the rear of the FJ is a Dana 70 axle. The massive axle was taken from a Ram 3500 and is fitted with an ARB Air Locker and 5.86 gears. The only thing reused from the old axle was the housing. Every component— brakes, wheel cylinders, stainless steel brake lines, braided hoses—brings stress-free peace of mind when traveling in remote and extreme conditions.
The Dana 60 axle was built with 5.86 gears and an ARB Air Locker. Walker Evans 2-inch coilovers damp the ride, and Howe hydro-assist steering keeps the front end under control. The new suspension setup, a number of high-end steering components, and the solid axle give the Toyota far more articulation, dependability, and “cool factor” over the weaker factory IFS suspension and components.
The hopped up Toyota V-6 gets a massive power boost from an Underdog Racing Development (URD) supercharger kit and seventh injector kit. Other trick modifications that Ben had completed on the V-6 include Doug Thorley headers and a URD 255 LHP Walbo fuel pump. The Toyota A750F five-speed automatic transmission was fitted with a huge cooler and also mated to an Atlas 5.0 transfer case for low-gear performance.
The interior and exterior are fitted with a number of hardcore off-road accessories and safety components like the Man-A-Fre front and rear bumpers and six-point rollcage. Other components include a Budbuilt gas tank skid, a flat belly pan crossmember, and Man-A-Fre rock sliders.
2008 Toyota FJ Cruiser
Engine: Toyota supercharged V-6
Transmission: Toyota A750F 5-speed auto
Transfer case: Atlas 5.0
Front Axle: Dana 60, ARB Air Locker, 5.86 gears
Rear Axle: Dana 70, ARB Air Locker, 5.86 gears
Springs & Such: Walker Evans 2.0/14-inch-travel coilovers, Fox 4-inch air bumps, custom 3-link in front; Fox 2.0/10-inch-travelremote reservoir shocks, Fox 4-inch air bumps, Old Man Emu Land Cruiser competition coils, custom 3-link in rear
Tires & Wheels: Goodyear 40X13.5R MTR, Allied steel D-window, Staun internal beadlocks
Other Stuff: Bushwacker pocket fenders, Hella lights, Lowrance GPS system, Coast Driveline driveshafts, Ballistic Fabrication 7⁄8-inch QA1 Heim steering kit, Eibach coil springs, Ballistic Fabrication coilover towers, ARB Safari Snorkel, Man-A-Fre 19-gallon auxiliary fuel tank, Visions X Tantrum LED rock lights