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Tony Farson’s 1968 Toyota FJ40: The Time Machine - BFGoodrich's "What Are You Building For?" Contest Winner for May

It’s not a Jeep!

Where does your rig take you? Tony Farson’s ’68 Toyota FJ40 goes somewhere inaccessible by anything else: to his late father, Robert, AKA “Rocket.”

“My dad had one,” Tony begins. “That was the car that he taught me to change oil on and change a flat tire. I learned how to drive a stick on it. I cut my teeth doing basic repairs and learning how to drive when he took me off-roading. That’s when I first became fully aware what an FJ40 is—and it’s not a Jeep!

“In 1996 I was 20 and joined the service (Navy) and ported in Sydney,” he continues. "(Cruisers) were everywhere down there. I met a few guys who were in an off-road club and went out with them a few weekends. We just had a blast. I fell in love with them all over again. But there’s a significant issue that plagues early Cruisers and it has everything to do with their popularity: They’re expensive. By the time I was that age, one in that shape was going for like thirty grand and as a young guy in the military that just wasn’t something that I could do,” Tony admits.

Upon discharging he moved to the Dominican Republic where he actually scored a ’77 BJ40—the one with the diesel—for $3,500. “Down there they’re no big deal,” he explained. “They’re everywhere.” He even joined an off-road club and wheeled a bunch. “One was a beach party and off-road trip over the mountains sponsored by Modelo,” he remembers. “It was a lot of fun.”

Unfortunately import fees made it cost-prohibitive to bring the BJ back stateside so he made do with what he could find—specifically a beat-up ’92 Bronco. “Then my wife (Kelly) found this one,” he says referring to this Tantalus-Green ’68. “‘This looks just like your dad’s,’ she told me.” The price was right, especially for a runner. He jumped. “We drove it around a bit before the engine went out."

“Well I guess it’s time to do an engine swap!” Tony enthuses. “But I wanted to keep the DNA Toyota; I didn’t want to go with an LS.” He found a 2F donor in a later rolling chassis for sale in Texas. “I hooked up my trailer and my daughter and I drove down there on a weekend and dragged it back.”

Tony describes the Yota’s reconstruction as a nut-and-bolt restoration, which accurately describes the lengths to which he’s going. But it does nothing to describe his objective. “There are some inherent weak points, like the c-clips in the semi-float rear axle are notorious for going out,” he explains. So above and beyond swapping in the later fine-spline axles, he’s converting the rear to full-float with Marlin Crawler or Ruff Stuff pieces. He’s also swapping the rear drums for discs and retrofitting a hydraulic-assist booster to improve braking. And it’s almost a foregone conclusion that a Cruiser gets power steering (Saginaw cross-steer, naturally).

He’s rebuilding the later transmission and transfer case but replacing the factory T-case linkage with Advance Adapter’s twin-stick. And yes, the 2F gets warmed-over in the process. Beyond block boring and crank grinding, the cam gets a rampier lobe for improved torque. Flat-top forged pistons should get the compression ratio up to 9:1, which will make a welcome addition at his rare-air elevation. “I ordered an Affordable Fuel Injection TBI kit for it,” Tony says. “Most of my wheeling is at 7,000 feet and above up here in Northwest Nevada. So the EFI will compensate with the AFR changes when climbing.”

The tub will remain basically stock, possibly with tubular front fenders and Hardbody 4x4 aluminum flares. “White Knuckle has really great rock sliders that look like the original steps so I’m thinking of connecting all that and making a subtle exoskeleton on it,” Tony says. “I don’t want to make a full-on exo but it’d be nice to have the protection on the corners.” Naturally he’s up in the air about color but hints at a subdued palate to play up the classic flavor.

“I’m hoping to get 37s on there,” Tony says. To make room for that rubber, he’s going with Atlas springs, Terraflex Revolver shackles, and long-travel shocks. “I’d love to put lockers in there when I re-gear but they’re really expensive so maybe later.” He says he’s undecided on the wheels but expressed a preference for the classic standbys like steelies, slot-mags, or even early-nineties alloys. “I want to keep the 40 DNA but I want people to do a double-take,” Tony points out. "I want it to be subtle, I don’t want to go crazy and build a full rock-crawler.”

Tony recognizes the ambition in his long-term goals. But more importantly, he understands the significance of building a rig that reconnects him with his past: his own family. “My kids are working on it with me, my wife is working on it with me,” he says. “It just reminds me so much of my dad and his 40—brings back so many good memories of him and you know just reliving my childhood. And getting to share that with my kids, it kind of makes me misty."

“You don’t get that many opportunities to relive things like that and to pass that on to your own kids,” he concludes. “It’s a big deal to me; I don’t care if it takes a year or 10 years to do the restoration; the journey is kind of more important than the destination to me.”