1969 FJ40 Land Cruiser Project - Looking for Advice

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FJ40Buyer

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Nobody would ever mistake me for being a car guy. I'd rather be working outdoors, hunting, hiking or mountain climbing than working on a car. However, the old FJ40's have caught my eye in recent years and I'm thinking about buying one and having it restored. One problem is that if I start down this path, I know I'll encounter a fair amount of "scope creep", which is going to drive up the cost. I know I may never recoup those expenses, but perhaps with time I would. Regardless, here's what I've found and the one estimate I've received for having it restored. I need advice on whether it's "reasonable", even if that's a pretty subjective term.

It's a 1969 FJ40 that's had two owners. The 2nd owner lived near San Diego and has owned it since 1974. I had a great visit with the restoration place that has it on hand and would restore it. They're primarily a Land Rover restorer, but have experience with FJ40's, too. I have nothing to compare their work to, but they seem extremely good and serve clientele in an area with people who likely expect high end results and will pay for it. The other, in-process restoration projects they showed me varied in their levels/extent of restoration, but were very impressive, at least to me. That all said, here are their restoration estimates and some photos. I'd like your feedback on all of it. Thanks.

Sorry this took so long to get to you. There are three parts to this 1) The purchase of the FJ40 @ $ 17,595.00, 2) the Standard Truck Restoration of $47,988.00, and 3) Options to the build, if you choose any. Below is an breakdown of the work and options are:


FJ40 Build Estimate

Standard truck


  • Media Blast and Powder Coat Frame
  • Extensive tune up and reseal of engine, cooling system, driveline, and axles
  • (3 speed trans includes new clutch/master & slave cylinder)
  • Drum brake overhaul service: front and rear
  • Replace suspension and steering components
  • New OEM style steel wheels, hub caps, and tires (5)
  • New Bestop soft top system
  • Upholster all interior seats
  • Remove and replace roll cage
  • New front and rear OEM style bumpers
  • Replace all lights and badges
  • Repair body (Rust repair & floor repair @ roll cage) and repaint
  • New stereo
  • 120 hours of labor @$155 = $18,600
TOTAL: $47,988.00


Available options
  • 5 speed Transmission swap with: new transfer case $7,500 parts + 30 hours labor = $12,150
  • Upgraded custom interior $2,000 additional (choose color of fabrics, stitching and custom stitched dash
  • Digital Gauge Cluster $1,000 for parts + 10 hours labor= $2,550
  • Front disc brake conversion $715+ 14 hours labor = $2,885
  • Upgrade OEM style soft top and frame $2,840 additional
  • ARB front bumper $1450
  • Upgraded stereo with premium audio $250 additional
  • DOT approved LED headlights $475

Let me know if you have any questions. Please keep in mind while labor times have been stated, coordinating parts and outside services will take on a longer time frame (you will not be billed for more, I am not looking to set an earlier expectation of delivery times). Billing will be based on purchase of parts and service work that has been performed. We will exchange emails with pictures to update you on the progress on the project.

  • FJ8
    FJ6
    FJ1
    FJ11

FJ10
 
ceylonfj40nut

ceylonfj40nut

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If you are looking for a garage queen, it will cost you like above. If you keep it patina, it looks great!!! I would not change much. Get the mechanicals solid. There are good threads here about the patina side of things. @wngrog work is a great example. Much cheaper, and great IMHO. Choices for $ and time. Worry about time even if $ is good.
 
archie73

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$ 17,595.00 seems steep as an entry price. I’m fine with some patina at that price, but no rust through. As @ceylonfj40nut noted, $65k would buy a beautiful rig that is already done. Check out bring a trailer, they seem to have a steady stream of high end restorations. Nothing against the Rover shop, but for that money, I’d rather a cruiser specific shop do the work. if only for the little things that make cruisers cruisers.
 
wngrog

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That’s a bit too much to have and still have a 3 speed and drum brakes

I’m doing a 40 right now that needs all of the things that truck needs and it will be a 45-55k truck in the end with no paint, no top. No doors.

That said it will have a new 2F, 4 speed, split case, disc brakes, fuel injecton. Blah blah.

Point is, that’s likely not the best choice of starting point for you. Find one that’s been properly done or get one that does not need as much work up front.
 
wngrog

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wngrog

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guess i need to get out more.

sounds like a 4 speed on the floor (refurbished used parts) would be the way to go then.
Yeah a 4 speed with 3.70s is my go to for a short wheelbase 40. I will do 5 speeds in wagons that go on long long trips but a 40 with H42/split case to me with 3.70 is so smooth on the road.

I took a truck like this one the OP has and did everything (my FJ45) last year and it was A game changer on drivability.

It was a LOT of work but it’s all documented here

 
pjohnson

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So your minimum entry price is $47,995 since they own the truck and would restore it to sell it to you.

I would strongly suggest, as others have also, that you shop around with your $48k budget and see what you can get that's already done.
 
F

FJ40Buyer

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So your minimum entry price is $47,995 since they own the truck and would restore it to sell it to you.

I would strongly suggest, as others have also, that you shop around with your $48k budget and see what you can get that's already done.

Not quite, unless I'm missing something. First, I'd be buying the truck for $17,595. Then I'd be paying them $47,988 to restore the truck as specified. At that point I'd be $65,583 into it, plus any taxes & fees. Finally, if I wanted any/some/all of the listed "Available Options", which goes back to the "scope creep" comment I made above, I'd be paying the additional costs that were listed.

I wanted to understand what would differentiate this FJ40, once restored, from others I see listed for $30K, $40K, $50K, $60K+. I understand to some extent, but I wanted to make sure I wasn't missing something. If it was going to be a top-of-the-line restoration that would immediately be worth more than what I had into it, and it would appreciate over time, I might be more inclined to consider it. I could view it as an investment. However, everything I've read here and elsewhere tells me that this wouldn't be the case. I'd spend $70K to have a vehicle worth something somewhat/significantly less than $70K. While I could stretch and swing it, that's not pocket change to me the way it is for some. I'd also want to drive it...going hiking, taking it hunting at bit (with hunting dogs in a dog box in the back), going to the lake, etc... I'd be better off with something much cheaper...something that looks decent and runs good, but that I wouldn't feel guilty about using.

I've learned a lot about the FJ's over the last few weeks, though. All of your comments on this thread also help...and feel free to keep them coming. Much appreciated.
 
EWheeler

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Not quite, unless I'm missing something. First, I'd be buying the truck for $17,595. Then I'd be paying them $47,988 to restore the truck as specified. At that point I'd be $65,583 into it, plus any taxes & fees. Finally, if I wanted any/some/all of the listed "Available Options", which goes back to the "scope creep" comment I made above, I'd be paying the additional costs that were listed.

I wanted to understand what would differentiate this FJ40, once restored, from others I see listed for $30K, $40K, $50K, $60K+. I understand to some extent, but I wanted to make sure I wasn't missing something. If it was going to be a top-of-the-line restoration that would immediately be worth more than what I had into it, and it would appreciate over time, I might be more inclined to consider it. I could view it as an investment. However, everything I've read here and elsewhere tells me that this wouldn't be the case. I'd spend $70K to have a vehicle worth something somewhat/significantly less than $70K. While I could stretch and swing it, that's not pocket change to me the way it is for some. I'd also want to drive it...going hiking, taking it hunting at bit (with hunting dogs in a dog box in the back), going to the lake, etc... I'd be better off with something much cheaper...something that looks decent and runs good, but that I wouldn't feel guilty about using.

I've learned a lot about the FJ's over the last few weeks, though. All of your comments on this thread also help...and feel free to keep them coming. Much appreciated.
Take 2 weeks and come to CA/AZ. You can find MUCH MUCH better trucks for half the price. Gotta do the leg work though, they don't come to you. That shop is in the business of making money and restoring trucks and everything is expensive when you pay someone else to do it. They probably aren't lying to you on what it would cost, but your assessment of spending $70k on a rig that would immediately be worth a fraction of it is spot on. Only way I could do that is if the truck had sentimental value of being in family for ages.

Find something that is clean and sorted out mechanically. You should be able to get into something for under $30k that is well sorted.

Here for instance:


No matter what you buy, it will need work and attention. They're 50 year old trucks.
 
EWheeler

EWheeler

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Or this as a donor truck that doesn't have much rust if you MUST have one restored and shiny. This is just the low hanging fruit I see through browning the mud classifieds. There are TONs of trucks for sale on Craigslist, Offerup, Facebook every day.

 
Green Bean

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You have gotten some very sound advice from some of the most knowledgeable folks around when it comes to FJ40's. The economics of these vehicles makes little sense. Many of us have poured way more into our vehicles in terms of parts than we would ever like to admit especially to our spouses. They can be a labor of love though and put a smile on your face when everything works as it should. They can also be frustrating as all get out. My suggestion for what it is worth is to find a 40 that is in decent mechanical condition; drive it; get to know it and then if you decide to upgrade to a fully restored vehicle you will be much better informed. Hang out here and you will gain a wealth of knowledge too.
Best wishes.
 
F

FJ40Buyer

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Take 2 weeks and come to CA/AZ. You can find MUCH MUCH better trucks for half the price. Gotta do the leg work though, they don't come to you. That shop is in the business of making money and restoring trucks and everything is expensive when you pay someone else to do it. They probably aren't lying to you on what it would cost, but your assessment of spending $70k on a rig that would immediately be worth a fraction of it is spot on. Only way I could do that is if the truck had sentimental value of being in family for ages.

Find something that is clean and sorted out mechanically. You should be able to get into something for under $30k that is well sorted.

Here for instance:


No matter what you buy, it will need work and attention. They're 50 year old trucks.
Yep. I've been searching all over and saw that one, which helped me decide not to go with the restore. There are some nice ones out there that would be a much better fit. Thanks for your replies. They are definitely helpful.
 

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