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"Mine's Better."

Posted in Project Vehicles on June 1, 2000 Comment (0)
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Mitch Guthrie's '70 Cruiser. Mitch Guthrie's '70 Cruiser.
A full cage was fabricated by All-Pro to protect Mitch and the family. It also supports the roof rack and a spare tire mount. All-Pro bumpers take   a beating on the front and rear of the Cruiser. A full cage was fabricated by All-Pro to protect Mitch and the family. It also supports the roof rack and a spare tire mount. All-Pro bumpers take a beating on the front and rear of the Cruiser.
The front sports 4.88 gears, a Detroit Locker, Marfields and an All-Pro steering arm, and ultra-thick tie rods. An AGR power steering box directs the Cruiser, and a spring-over with 4-inch Alcan springs provides the jounce. The front sports 4.88 gears, a Detroit Locker, Marfields and an All-Pro steering arm, and ultra-thick tie rods. An AGR power steering box directs the Cruiser, and a spring-over with 4-inch Alcan springs provides the jounce.
A welded diff along with 4.88s adorn the rear differential. The buildup isn’t done yet; Mitch plans to swap out the axles for some stronger units. A welded diff along with 4.88s adorn the rear differential. The buildup isn’t done yet; Mitch plans to swap out the axles for some stronger units.
An All-Pro traction bar allows the rear suspension to flex while still controlling axlewrap thanks to the special pivoting shackle on the frame mounted end. An All-Pro traction bar allows the rear suspension to flex while still controlling axlewrap thanks to the special pivoting shackle on the frame mounted end.
The Marlin Dual transfer case is held in place and is skidplated by an All-Pro crossmember. The ’cases provide a 5.2:1 low range and are mated to the TH350 with a Downey adapter. The Marlin Dual transfer case is held in place and is skidplated by an All-Pro crossmember. The ’cases provide a 5.2:1 low range and are mated to the TH350 with a Downey adapter.
Beard seats make for a comfy seating position to pilot behind the LeCarra steering wheel and Auto Meter liquid-filled gauges. Beard seats make for a comfy seating position to pilot behind the LeCarra steering wheel and Auto Meter liquid-filled gauges.
A 300hp GM 350 crate engine resides under the hood. Also visible are the tops of the front shock hoops and the crossover brace that accommodate 12-inch travel Rancho 9012s. A 300hp GM 350 crate engine resides under the hood. Also visible are the tops of the front shock hoops and the crossover brace that accommodate 12-inch travel Rancho 9012s.

When Mitch Guthrie acquired his ’70 FJ-40 it was a far cry from its current stance. It was completely stock except for a slapped together V-8 swap consisting of a clapped-out Chevy 327. But Mitch had plans, big plans. He and a friend were constantly battling at the local mud races and Mitch always seemed to take the silver while his friend, Jon Bundrant, polished the gold. Jon just happened to be the owner of a 4x4 shop, All-Pro Offroad. So Mitch hired his friendly competitor to build the tired FJ better than Bundrant’s own Cruiser. The three-year process put together what you see here.

All-Pro Offroad immediately went to work and corrected the sloppy engine swap with a 300hp GM crate engine mated to a TH350 transmission. A Turbo City EFI was then grafted to the engine after dealing with other less reliable systems. A spring-over with custom 4-inch Alcan springs made way for 15x12 American Eagle 589s, with Champion GNT bead locks cinching down on 38x15.50 Super Swamper Radials. The fenders were cut way back to keep the rubber out of the steel, even at full stuff.

The axles were also fortified by All-Pro, with a Detroit Locker in front, a Lincoln (welded) locker in the rear, and 4.88 gears in both. Marfields replaced the breakage-prone Birfields and Toyota disks do the stopping up front with the stock drums clamping out back. Later on down the road (but further up the drivetrain), Mitch had All-Pro install a Marlin Crawler Dual transfer case from a Toyota mini truck. At the same time, All-Pro extended the wheelbase to 102 inches to make the short FJ a better hill climber and alleviate the compounded angle of the rear driveshaft.

Mitch and Jon still compete but the stakes are higher now. With all the rockcrawling championships going on, you can be sure to find one or both of them at almost every event looking to grab a title the other doesn’t have.

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