American car guy gets a '71 FJ40

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Jan 2, 2018
Sonoma County, CA
Hey guys, been lurking for months, thought I would drop in and show off my new little beater project...

I own several american classics, and even a modern '95 YJ Wrangler (yea, a JEEP!) but was approached by a friend who had a '71 FJ40 on his ranch and wanted to see something a little more happening with it.
I always appreciated the FJ40, but never appreciated the value/cost of buying one (I get they are pretty good rigs, but in the american market, when a Jeep is almost always 50% cheaper to buy its hard for a cheap a## like me to spend the extra cash on one... well this one was rough enought that I could actually afford it so I said "what the hell" and jumped into the Land Cruiser market.

I have owned a 4Runner, but mainly US vehicles. other than my wrangler, another 4x4 I have is a 1st gen K5 Blazer so I am not new to older 4x4s and all of the fun that comes with the old, simple mechanics.

I am new to the '70's Japanese engineering though, so thats been fun (I.E. dual wheel cylinders on each corner for even braking)

this one is going to stay mostly a beater, will fix it up the mechanics (my wheelhouse) and freshen up the interior (Bestop TJ rear seat for safe forward facing seating and OEM front bench re-upholstered) and just enjoy it for what it is, an old 4x4 that doesn't deserve to rot away.

Drove it off the ranch property (7 miles) and I even had a clutch for about 2 of those miles! original engine runs but doesnt want to idle low, probably a vacuum issue and maybe need a carb rebuild (looks like original carb)

Got soft half doors, a bikini top, mirrors and a few other goodies coming. After wheels and tires and a tune up it should be a fun little cruiser...

It does have a couple goodies (looks like a Con-ferr tool box and rear tank)

I am sure I will have some questions as I move along with this little project, but here she is!



Nice find! She's a good ol' girl!

Sure looks like an original Aisin carb. Also, that front toolbox is nice!

And they even have the bezel right side up!

Thanks guys, while it is rough around the edges its in way better shape than I expected. I will show some more photos later once I upload them, but there is some of the typical rust to the rear tub at the dirt collecting seams, and the passenger rear quarter is full of bondo from some weird previous incident (dented OUT somehow, maybe tree limb from the ranch life it lived or something...) so the passenger B pillar will need some hydraulic leverage down the road if I choose to square it up, but we all know how hard these truck are to find so I wasnt going to complain. Really I didnt know what to expect. I am in northern cali, and depending on what county it came from the trucks are great or rotted away. seems how it didnt have a top the floor boards did remarkably well, and theres not any real rot in the floors. The previous owner also had the full brake system services so even though it has been "off public roads" for the last 14 years the brakes still work surprisingly well. a $25 slave cylinder got the clutch working again, but I do see the clutch master cylinder leaking at the piston so I do have a spare AISIN replacement on order.
I paid about what i see "rollers" going for, and was able to drive it off the property so I am pretty happy overall.
It has most of its original metal, but was painted twice (started life a spearmint green that you can see under the hood)
If I had to guess, I would say it has some solid axle mini truck rims up front (no provisions for hubcaps)

Once I get my box of parts installed I will throw up some more photos, also hope to get the recovered (new foam, some springs and vinyl) front bench back in a week or two and will show off the progress at that point.

Its titled and insured so as soon as I get that seat back in place I plan to run it up and down the road a few times. I do have some wiring to chase down, I have NO idea where the flasher(s) are if it has any... I looked on the pedal frame and didnt see any flasher mounted. Hazard switch and turn signal do nothing... I also had a working headlight switch when I drove it home, but somehow during the last few days that switch now seems to be doing nothing... The brake light switch does work though, and I do have one working brake light lol...

Oh the joys of an old rig that was neglected for so long... its been maybe 14 years since anyone tried to use a turn signal, so who knows how long its been non-functional.
Here is a shot of my drive off the property, very rural test drive!

Rear shot with terrible OEM seat in foreground

Interior stripped and hosed off

UPS unloaded a truckload to help move some of my plans forward!

Bestop seat just sitting in back to see how it fit between the wheel wells, Perfect!

Bestop Bikini top bracket trimmed to fit, and installed. Bestop Bikini top installed, soft doors installed, right front marker light installed. Mirrors arrived too but ran out of light. made good progress, but things will slow down now until I line up some more parts for engine work (or get front seat back to mock up where I want to mount rear seat)
Welcome to the madness, Nice rig,

Just put a V8 in it to feel compfy !

Welcome to the madness, Nice rig,

Just put a V8 in it to feel compfy !

Ha! I have thought about it, and I hope to get the F engine dialed in because it did make it this long in the rig and it does run. But if it gives me any real fight i do have a PERFECT little low power chevy small block to adapt to the original 3 speed, a 305 from a '90 firebird. hope to keep it toyota though...
Great looking Toy.

There is something I have been meaning to address about windshield down and half roll bars.

First my story... I never cared to run with my windshield down but did run with the hard top off for about eight years.

I have a half roll bar and kept the hard top doors on though.

One day a friend asked me if I could drive her down to her mothers boat dock.

After her father died a couple years before no one had been down to it since then.

We went down about half a mile and the over growth wasn't to bad but did scrap some limbs on the paint.

Doors and windshield was nice but coming back they really paid off.

We took a different path back up and it wasn't any worse but when we got to the top of the hill back to the paved road I had to push through some limbs and heard a weird noise as we pushed through. Along with the noise I felt, and my friend said she felt it also, something skim over the top of our heads.

Someone, I am assuming it was her dad, had stretch a cable across the trail at about hood height. I wasn't going much more that a walking speed when that cable hit the windshield skimmed over the door window frames and then the roll bar.

Even at such a slow speed it could have done some serious damage much less killed us hand it not been for the windshield and door frames.

It was a "what the" moment and not until I got out and looked around did I realize what hat happened.

The cable was stretch at about chest height and no flags or signs were attached to show it's presence.

Sorry, i didn't intend to high jack your thread but the cool picture over the hood at the scenery brought this to mind.

I have spent some time diving my Toy in your area in years past and it was beautiful.

So once again, Great rig and I hope you have as much fun with your's as I have mine and be careful.
It has most of its original metal, but was painted twice (started life a spearmint green that you can see under the hood)
If I had to guess, I would say it has some solid axle mini truck rims up front (no provisions for hubcaps)

Outstanding! Thanks for posting. Those probably are SA mini rims up front and IFS rims out back, '90s vintage. They'll almost certainly hit your tierod ends if you try to run them up front because the IFS rims have more inboard offset than SA rims. But another set of SA rims would solve that ... more elegantly than spacers ... IMHO.

So lets see more of that green paint (paint code on the tag under the hood IIRC)!
Oh, you poor soul...:cry:

:D Welcome to Cruiser Insanity. Your truck is actually in VERY good condition for a 1971! That color FYI is called Spring Green. Same color as mine was originally.

I also have a 1971 FJ40 and have a web site devoted to it's restofication. See the link in my sig line.

I also see from your pics that you will be in need of my other services. I sell all the connectors and wire you will need to patch up your truck. First thing I noticed: You are in dire need of wiper motor connectors! See my web site in my sig for connectors and other things electrical.
Mark aka Coolerman
Thanks for the comments, I thought it may be spring green, but the chart I found on this site id'd that color as a '70 only color. apparent they bled into '71. neat that it may not have been as common, unlikely but maybe one day I will revive it in its original color... Where under the hood is the color ID'd? I'm certain this is the original color, as it is EVERYWHERE (on dash where paint is peeling, on floor, tub sides and obviously under hood... looks like some factory "A" marking over on the firewall passenger side is where the fan is so I would be shocked if it was any other color than this from Japan...

Not a bad color though, like this one from google:

As for the "windshield down" I would have to say that your experience is probably pretty unique, but no doubt I was less protected in the event of a roll-over. My issue was I couldn't see from the dirty algae filled windshield and dropped it for visibility.

Also, there will be alot of electrical to chase in this one, so I may be hitting you up. I have alot of experience in older vehicles so chasing old wiring isnt a huge burden to me, and I found and printed the 71 toyota FSM on this site (thanks guys!) and have that printed to help!

My spare rim looks original (has holes for where hub cap tabs probably were once riveted) and I wouldnt mind cap-less rims, but the OEM rims with caps look soo good...

Once I sell of another old rig I may dump a little more into this one, but for now just trying to make her a runner and enjoy it. Too many of my projects over the years sat in parts, now I have a policy where I get them functioning and upgrade things one part at a time so its not down and undriveable for more than maybe a weekend... my old chevy stepside was torn down to the frame and I worked on that thing for maybe 3 years before ever driving it 100 yards, dont want to do that again...
Still waiting on the upholstery shop to get my seat done (My bad for telling them no rush) so instead I am dropping cash in other places...

A local FJ40 owner (also a MUD member) is going retro with his rims so I picked up these centerlines and 31" tires from him
Here they are on his rig, I pick em up next week:

Also, because I refuse to go offroad with 4x4's without winches, the ebay gods sent this little gem my way for a steep but fair price:

I wish any other winch would fit the FJ40 as nice as the 8274, but they really don't so I paid up for what looks like a great period correct example of what most consider to be the best winch for this rig.

Hoping in 2 or 3 weeks I will pick a winch bumper (Leaning towards the Man-A-Fre) and get this winch delivered and installed, and get the new rims and tires installed, and get my front seat from the upholstery shop and installed and I will finally have a derivable rig so I can start sorting out vacuum leaks as I make some test drives...
I went with the bumper, looked great and was $70 cheaper (shipped) than the BTB/Ma-a-Fre bumper

I am sure the BTB unit is great but im poor after buying that 8274...

Also, JoeTLC lists their bumper on eBay but its cheaper shipping through their own website (was only $90 plus shipping ~$45)

HD Front Winch Mount Channel Bumper for Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40 FJ45 - JoeTLC

Here are some stock photos of it from

looking a little deeper into the Warn 8274 and I noticed that this one seems to be in very original shape. It also was odd to me that it actually had safety instructions in four different languages, including what I assume is Japanese.

Since I haven't seen this decal before on a solenoid cover I thought I would share.
There goes the tool box I guess - pity, I kinda liked it!
Good looking 40

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