1985 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ60- A Classic Cruiser With Modern Power

That 60 Show

Harry WagnerPhotographer, Writer

Toyotas have long had a reputation for being “underpowered and overbuilt.” That includes the 60 Series, long the black sheep of the Land Cruiser family. They use essentially the same running gear as the smaller 40 Series but weigh a thousand pounds more and have considerably more sheetmetal to mar on the trail. And they lack the coil suspension and refinement of the later 80 Series wagons. Lately though, the 60 Series has enjoyed a resurgence. This particular specimen is one of the best examples to showcase the strengths of these vehicles.

In order to get the most out of any 60 Series, a heart transplant is necessary. This particular Cruiser has housed three engines during its life. We will spare you another Goldilocks reference, but the new engine is clearly the best match to the weight and intended use of the vehicle. Note that the factory 2F engine was never a powerhouse, with reliability being its only redeeming feature. The F series inline-six engines are heavy and underpowered, and Dirk Nelson previously had a five-cylinder Mercedes diesel engine and a five-speed Toyota transmission retrofit into his 1985 FJ60. The idea of being able to pour waste oil from the local Chinese restaurant into the fuel tank and drive off was appealing, but the reality is that the Mercedes engine suffered from the same issues as the original 2F; namely, it just didn’t generate enough power to motivate the heavy wagon.

Enter Stoffregen Motorsports. The team there retained the H55F five-speed transmission but yanked out the Mercedes diesel and replaced it with a 5.3L V-8 from Tilden Motorsports. Now if you are saying, “Another LS swap!” take a step back before you spend someone else’s virtual money on their pride and joy. The GM Gen3 engines are popular for a reason. They check all of the boxes for this, and many other, off-road vehicles. The engines are relatively inexpensive and easy to source, they make great power in a compact package (particularly compared to overhead-cam engines), and the aftermarket has embraced this platform with every swap part and power adder you can think of. Nelson could have spent twice as much to put a 4.7L Toyota V-8 under the hood, but why? After taking a chance on the Mercedes engine and being underwhelmed, going the tried-and-true way of remedying the “underpowered” aspect of an “overbuilt” Toyota was the best solution.

Tech Specs

1985 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ60
>Drivetrain
Engine: Chevrolet 5.3L V-8
Transmission: Toyota H55F 5-speed manual
Transfer Case: Factory Toyota “split case”
Axles: Factory Toyota with 4.88 gears and ARB Air Locker (front and rear)
>Suspension
Springs & Such: Old Man Emu leaf springs and shocks (front and rear)
Tires & Wheels: 285/75R17 Toyo Open Country A/T on 17x8 American Racing Mojave wheels
Steering: FJ80 steering box, GM pump, Old Man Emu steering stabilizer
Lighting: LED headlight conversion
Other Stuff: Front Runner roof rack, Autohome Maggiolina rooftop tent, dual Optima RedTop batteries, ARB air compressor, 38-gallon Man-a-fre fuel tank, Advance Adapters headers, Champion radiator, Walker muffler, Stoffregen Motorsports fan shroud, wood center console, reupholstered leather seats, custom interior panels