The Addiction Begins
I have an addiction. I now know it, and I can freely admit it. Land Cruisers do that to a person, once you start, one is just not enough.
I have owned Toyota trucks for close to 12 years and have been amazed by the quality, reliability and longevity of them. When I started out looking for an FJ40 I kept my eyes and ears open in the WI area. You don't see to many around here that haven't fallen to the trap of Wisconsin winters.
My father just rolled his eyes when I told him I was thinking of buying a vintage Land Cruiser. "What do you need that for?" he said. "For the hell of it." I replied. While at first he wasn't on board with the whole thing he actually supported my new found addiction. He was willing to road trip three states away to look at trucks with me.
After looking at a few that were little more than rusting carcases, I found a 1969 Cruiser in the paper that just went on the market one Thursday morning in November. I called the owner and found out there were people scheduled to look at it at noon, so I raced over at 11a.m. to head them off.
What I found was a solid project that a couple college guys had started and had just run out of time, juice, etc. The cruiser ran well but there was no brake master cylinder on it so I couldn't test drive it. I was told that they had done a partial underbody restoration. It was really clean underneath and the axles looked good. I had faith in the truck. It had potential. It was sea-foam green, but it had potential. I have to admit that the color really turned me off at first. I was like ew...yuck.
I made an offer and they accepted. I was a proud Land Cruiser owner! I had them hold it for about a month while I got my garage cleaned and logistics in order. When I called my dad and told him that I bought a 1969, he was willing to help me retrieve it.
I think he had alterior motives, but my dad called me one day and told me that he had found a 16 foot car trailer for sale for a good price and he wanted to know if I was interested in going in on it. Sure I said and the deal was sealed. He came down with it in December of 2000 and he helped me pick up my NEW '69. I didn't have a whole lot of space in my garage for it so I just left it on our new trailer in the front yard. I am sure that the neighbors were happy with that. I built a make-shift garage / shanty on the trailer to work on my truck during the rest of the Wisconsin winter. It worked out surprisingly well.
By April I had it running and driving well enough that I was able to take it for a few joy rides around town topless. Sarah and I were all bundled up and cruising in style. What a rush! We were getting looks and thumbs up everywhere. By this point the color was beginning to grow on me a little. It seemed right for the truck and helped to date it a little. I could look at it and now think...huh.
I was able to take it offroad for the first time Memorial Weekend at our annual KamPureAsSoff weekend. I knew that these things had a history of being a go anywhere do anything type vehicle, but after wheeling a little bit with my buddy with his Jeep, I was going places, in basically stock form, that he was getting stuck in with his lift and 33 x 12.5 tires. How does that happen? (Sorry Rob, but that's the truth!) I was amazed and I was getting more and more bold with it.
It didn't take long before the modification bug hit me and I decided that I NEEDED big tires and of course a 4" lift. I found that you could do pretty much anything on these vehicles with a little patience and some mechanical know how.
I had been subscribing to the Land Cruiser Mailing List (LCML) for a while, just lurking in the background. A post came through from a member named Dar who had a stash of 4" lift springs available. This was my chance. I got on board and bought a set. Then came the task of figuring what else I needed. It took a while, but I got everything ordered and dug in.
I have never done any suspension modifications, but how else was I going to learn. I dug in and everything went pretty smooth. I was happy with the results. I got a new set of rims and some nice meaty 33 X 12.5 BFG Mud Terrain tires and I was in business.
I sat back and took a look at the rig with these changes and fell in love. It was just the thing to transform my baby into a tough looking rig. Even the color which I really didn't like at first looked good to me. I can now look at it and think to myself...Yea.
Next Vehicle - 1979 FJ40