'86 FJ60 Build Thread Gets off the Ground (Finally)

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4Cruisers

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It's about time I started a build thread, I've been promising it for a while. First off, the vehicle's name - "The '86". To understand the background behind the name, you have to look at my history of Land Cruiser ownership. It all started back in March of 1984, when my wife and I stopped by Toyota West in Las Vegas, NV, just before closing. The dealership was on Decatur Boulevard, right on the way home from the big box store where we had been shopping for a baby swing for our five-month old son. We decided to pass on the baby swing because it was "too expensive". Anyway, there just so happened to be a brand new '84 FJ60 and a brand new '83 FJ40 on the lot, so we pulled in and started talking Land Cruisers with Chris, one of the salesmen. We decided to focus on the FJ60 because it would be more suitable for family camping expeditions in the Southwest. We ended up taking it home that night, for ~$14,000 and change. We referred to it simply as "The Land Cruiser". Fast forward thirteen years to the day I saw a '71 FJ40 for sale on the local "Lemon Lot". Well, I had to have it. The dilemma was what to call it. Easy - "The '71", and "The Land Cruiser" became "The '84". The fleet grew again three years later when I bought my '76 FJ40 ("The '76") from one of my brother-in-law's co-workers for $1,000. That brings us to the two vehicles that are the subject of this build thread, "The '86" and "The '89".

I bought the '86 FJ60 primarily for its rust-free body and frame. I paid $1,200 for it back in 2004. It was complete with the exception of the 2F, which had thrown a rod, as evidenced by the bottom of the oil pan that was sitting in the back of the vehicle. It had been sitting in the back of the PO's property outside of Las Vegas for quite a few years. Four months later I bought the '89 FJ62, primarily for its 3FE, wiring harness, fuel tank, and axles, as I was starting to get interested in a 3FE swap, inspired by Jim Godwin's article in Four Wheeler magazine. It ran well but had been banged up a bit in an encounter with a guardrail the previous winter in northern New Mexico. I paid $1,500 for it, and proceeded to fix it up by installing the front clip from a second '84 FJ60 (this one a parts vehicle) I had picked up from the owner of Sauter Toyota in Santa Fe a few years earlier. By going that route I had already taken the first real step towards my current project - round headlights (along with the minor headlight wiring change described in Jim's article) and inner fenders modified to accommodate the 3FE "stuff" in the engine compartment.

Below is a photo of the '89 donor vehicle when I was using it as one of my daily drivers (this was taken at our apartment complex in Las Vegas, NV). I don't have any early photos of the '86 because I had parked it in my garage in Nevada right after I bought it, and it didn't see the light of day until I brought it out to New Mexico about a year ago. I'll include some recent photos of the donor and recipient vehicles side-by-side in my next post.

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I really got things moving on my project by spending some fairly big bucks right off the bat. First order was to buy a brand new H55f from Cdan at American Toyota. That was several years ago. I knew I'd want a lift so last year I ordered an OME suspension kit from Kurt at Cruiser Outfitters. And to go with the new suspension and lift I bought five Toyota 70-Series 16X6 wheels and a set of BFG 235/85R16 All-Terrain T/A KO2s. For years I had been running BFG 33X9.50 ATs on most of my Land Cruisers, and I wanted to retain the tall skinny look. Unfortunately, I discovered that the 33X9.50s were no longer available, and that 15-inch tires are generally much harder to find these days, so I decided to go with the 16-inch wheels. The second photo below shows what the wheel/tire combination looks like on the '86. The '86 still has the stock suspension, but no engine and transmission/transfer case, so you can't really get a sense for what it will look like when the project is complete. The '89 is right beside the '86, next to the fence. Notice that weather hampered a lot of progress over the winter, as I'm doing most of the work out on the driveway. The first photo is what I faced on April 18th. It snowed at least three times after that - the next to last photo was taken on May 1st.

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