2006 Ultimate Adventure 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser Build Part 6Posted in Ultimate Adventure: 2006 on December 1, 2006
For the past five months we've been giving you an inside view of the buildup of our official Ultimate Adventure Toyota FJ Cruiser. It's always fun to take a brand-new truck and tear it apart in hopes of building something even better than what was offeredfrom the factory, and the UAFJ was no different. Yes, it's a lot of work, especially when modifying a vehicle that has never been offered before to the public, since many of the systems are totally brand new, but it's also great to start with a nice, clean frame and body, fresh from the factory drivetrain, and a unique-to-the-public body style. Plus, we were lucky that a majority of the FJ Cruiser components are used cross-platform with other models such as the Tacoma and 4Runner, and these vehicles have been available for at least three years, making certain modifications less of an uphill battle.
In case you didn't know, BFGoodrich Tires is the title sponsor of Ultimate Adventure, and as such we built this truck around the largest, most aggressive tire they offer, the 39x13.5R17 Krawler T/A. We've run these tires in the past, and with the proper air pressure and enough gearing and motor they never disappoint whether on or off road. Of course in order to run a tire this large and use it on harsh, abusive trails requires body clearance, a strong drivetrain, and supple suspension. Over the past few months we installed exactly that under our Ultimate FJ while it was at All Pro Off Road in Hemet, California. But in addition to giant 1-ton axles, super low ring-and-pinion and transfer-case gears, and the added boost of a supercharger we also installed a custom rollcage, a flexy coilover shock suspension, beefy bumpers, and a hearty winch for extraction help. With this final installment of our Ultimate FJ we'll show you the last few steps involved in getting it ready. We'll go over the parts and tools we carried along to make the trip less stressful, and we'll also tell you how some of the components fared on the trip down rocky canyons, over massive dunes, and through bottomless mud pits.
Now that we've finished the Ultimate Adventure '06 , we look back at the truck and have only a handful of complaints about the performance and bucket-loads of praise for our Big Green Turtle truck. The biggest flaw of the FJ has got to be visibility, both on the trail and the street. We're sure that this vehicle was born in a designer's studio rather than an off-road engineer's notebook, and unfortunately certain flaws resulted. The side mirrors are too small, the taillights too big, the back windows too small, and the hood too big. That being said, we loved the 4.0 for grunty torque, and the six-speed manual tranny, which when matched with the Atlas four-speed gave us a gear for every occasion. The 39-inch Krawlers worked great and when spun by Yukon 5.38 gears and Detroit Lockers, we never had issues.
The suspension worked great, comfy at speed in dirt or dunes due to the adjustable Walker Evans shocks and Light Racing Jounce shocks, and finally tuned by the fabricators at All Pro Off Road. Though some folks thought our Dynatrac axles were overkill, we love the ground clearance, clean fabrication, and brute strength. Plus by adapting the stock FJ brakes we had a perfectly balanced system to halt the Turtle in a hurry if need be. And speaking of the Turtle, the inside of the shell with a tight TIG-welded cage by Poison Spyder and plethora of safe lockable storage by Slee Off Road in the back made for a great home base. Outside our shell was protected by two big Fab Fours bumpers and though the rear got some bruises due to its low-hanging lower lip, both fared well and did the job of protecting the body and engine compartment. Another thing that front bumper did was house a Warn 9.5 ti winch, and more than most years we often had it running to climb vertical ledges or drag us out of sloppy quagmires, and never did it give any hint of quitting. We truly feel this year's Ultimate Adventure truck is one of our best yet, and we may just need to take another week off to go enjoy it some more.