Andy Zook's '74 Build Thread

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Keystone Cruisers
Jun 9, 2003
Lancaster, PA
My '74 Smurf Blue FJ40 as it sits today -

IMG_7426 (1).JPG

I have always wanted to do a build thread on my 40, but I have never felt like it was complete enough to post.

My name is Andy Zook, and I have been into Toyotas for as long as I can remember. My dad had a ’84 Toyota pickup when I was a kid, as did two of my uncles. I bought my first Toyota when I was 17 – it was an ’85 Toyota pickup. In the years since I have modified and/or parted out many Toyotas.

Here I am with my '85 pickup headed off to college! Nice shorts, eh?

In the late 90s / early 00's I rebuilt 2 mini-trucks trucks from the frame up, did a few solid axle swaps and a few engine conversions (Supra 5M-GE into an ’84 pickup and 3VZ-FE into a ’95 4runner and again into a ’91 4Runner).

Solid axle swap on an '86 4Runner before the "kit"


Supra engine in '85 4Runner


3.4L into 2nd Gen 4runner

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My college roommate was the one who introduced me FJ40s. He lived in Africa as a kid and loved them. I had also come across them quite frequently at Toyota events (GSMTR) and was envious of their off-road prowess!

I first attempted to purchase my ’74 back in 1996 when visiting my college roommate in NC before heading to the GSMTR. I made an offer of $3500 to the old man who owned the truck. He called a few days later to tell me that he did not want to sell.

I returned home to PA only to receive a call from my friend a few weeks later telling me he had purchased the same 40 for $4000!

He did some work to the truck. He took the tub off and had it blasted and primed and put on 33s and a 4” Skyjacker lift.

He ended up moving up to New Jersey for work, got married and had kids and never did get back to working on the 40. It was wasting/rusting away under a tree in his parent’s driveway back down in NC.

I offered him $4500 in 2001, and he accepted. A friend and I drove down to Hendersonville, NC and picked it up with my 80 series and a tow dolly.

It was a long, slow drive back to PA. At one point we had to open the windows and turn on the heater to keep the 80 from overheating while driving up a mountain. We stopped to camp somewhere in VA and that is where this picture was taken.


I piddled around with it for a few weeks and decided to tear it down and "do it right".

I worked slowly on the truck for a few years as I had met my (now) wife soon after buying the truck and was later married. When she was pregnant with our first son, she told me that if I ever wanted to get the truck finished, this was probably my last chance for a LONG time.

She was right! I got the truck back together enough to drive about 2 months before our son was born (2006).

View attachment 921619

I cut out and covered my rusty cowl vent


I got the body as straight as i could and primed it inside and out with epoxy primer. I sealed all of the seams

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I did all of the body work and paint myself. This was my 4th paint job - and by far my best. I did however decide that it was my last as I ended up repainting many of the parts multiple times until I was happy with the results.


mmmmmm..... fresh cad plated bolts and hardware!

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I scored a nearly perfect STC top and doors from a local club member for $500, and I traded some parts for a tire carrier which I have never particularly liked, but it does the job.

I bought some new black wagon wheels - didn't really get the backset right, but hey - they looked better than the originals!


John Merkey (local Cruiser guru) donated the front bumper to the cause and a few other misc parts.

Schmukster gave me an original front floor mat and cargo mat and wiper motor which were missing from the truck when I bought it.

I got the truck back together and painted and worked out enough kinks to get it back on the road, but it still had a long way to go. It looked silly with the stiff as a board 4” lift springs, 33” tires, and wrong offset wheels. The hood was not painted and it didn't run well because I had a gigantic vacuum leak which ended up being a cracked intake manifold.

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I drove it this way for about a year.

As with most 40 owners, I have been working on it ever since – completing a few projects a year.

One year was 35” BFG KM2 tires – my 4runner at the time was totaled, and I made out well enough to buy a set of 35” BFGs.


The following spring I decided I needed a different set of wheels to keep from having to run spacers to clear my brakes.

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The next year was a forward facing rear seat and lap belts for the kids, a Trollhole carb, and a freshly powder coated 2F valve cover.

Rear seat was from Tom's Bronco parts - There is a thread where Scott Wilson installed one. I don't believe they sell the same one now as it does not have headrests, and it did not cost me $500!


2 years ago I built the front bumper and restored an old Warn M8274. I also powder coated a different grill so I could install a newer style emblem in the front.


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Last summer was a new dash pad (birthday present), powder coating of all interior pieces, a stereo and GT seat covers so the front seats match the rear.

GT seat covers - '95 4Runner seats on original mounting brackets.


Stereo in the Tuffy console
Jeep rollbar mount speaker enclosures




This year the 40 finally received much needed power steering (Saginaw). I also added a CB and a new clutch.

A late night this winter tearing it down to start power steering
photo 1.JPG
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She steers with ease!

Gearbox bracket was from Georg. I had to make longer standoffs to get it to clear my shackle - I don't have a shackle reversal.


Saginaw pump on 2F smog pump bracket with Volvo pulley. The tensioner bracket was a "universal" one I found online. I had to put the offset in it. Works great!


I mounted my CB on the front of the Tuffy console. I moved my cupholder to the back. I attached the mic holder to the front of the CB with adhesive.


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Nice looking rig and an interesting story to go with it.
I have many more projects planned over the next few years. The truck needs a proper cage, I have a full floater 80 series axle with electric locker that I would like to narrow and install, and I need to build rocker protection and a new tire carrier. I would love to finally get my hard top and doors restored at some point as well.

Lower gearing would be a nice addition, but in reality this truck sees a lot more street use than it will ever see dirt. It is a great all-around truck and serves my family’s needs very well.

The truck is dearly loved by all 3 kids, and although it took my wife a few years to warm up to it, she enjoys it now. We spend the occasional Sunday afternoon tooling around on the back roads down by the Susquehanna River, and when we go camping the 40 almost always joins us.

This truck has made some great family memories!

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Very nice 40 it's my favorite colour too
Awesome story. Great looking 40! The pics of the kids tinkering and running around the 40 are the best. I'm accumulating a few of my own. Priceless.
Awesome story. Great looking 40! The pics of the kids tinkering and running around the 40 are the best. I'm accumulating a few of my own. Priceless.

Yes, I love these pictures. I need to force myself to take more of them. I am horrible at pictures - guess that is why most of the ones I have of the Cruiser are in my driveway!

Thanks all for the compliments.
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A few more shots from "back in the day".

Two spots you can't go these days!

Pick Your Poison trail at Paragon - one of my all-time favorites!

Cresting Guardrail @ Tellico

I nearly forgot that I owned a '76 back when I first graduated from college. I tore it down and never did get it back together. It was way too rusty, and I tore way too much of it apart!

Interesting thing is that it had an oil bath air filter and a cartrige type oil filter. When tearing it apart I found South American money in the dash (I forget what).

I am not sure if I was wearing anything in this picture ;-P


Myself and 4 other people with backpacks rode in this 40 over some pretty sketchy terrain to get to the beginning of the trail to Roraima, Venezuela! It was a cramped 45 minute ride to say the least.


I am partial to Toyotas, but I enjoy other makes too. I owned this Scout for 2 years back in high school. If you throught FJ40s were prone to rust, these things are 3x as bad.

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