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"Chewie" the Journey of a 1988 HJ61 from a land far, far away

Discussion in '60-Series Wagons' started by toaster62, Nov 16, 2015.

  1. toaster62

    toaster62

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    My passion for cruisers started when my Dad handed me the keys to a 1989 FJ62 a few months before my 16th birthday. It was bone stock and definitely had seen better days, but it was mine and I was hooked. I spent the next 4 years building my FJ62 into a trail rig/ daily driver. When I moved to Austin in 2011, I left the cruiser parked in my parents barn while I drove a more fuel efficient daily driver. I had plans to tow it out to Austin and slowly keep the build going, but with my younger brother's 16th birthday coming up I sadly sold the cruiser to help my parents buy him a newer car that was a bit more reliable and head ache free. I had a big dream to eventually swap a diesel (most likely a 4BT) into the FJ62 but those dreams were cut short when I sold it. I promised myself to get another cruiser eventually or even buy back my first cruiser from the guy I had sold it to. Either way, I was determined to have a diesel Landcruiser at some point.


    My old 1989 FJ62 before I sold it
    [​IMG]

    The custom set of Alcans made this thing amazing on the trail
    [​IMG]


    Fast forward about 3 more years and I am driving a 2010 4x4 tacoma that I am slowly building into an overland/ daily driver rig. Then one night after a long conversation with a close friend about pushing each other to accomplish some of our bigger goals in life now rather than later, I found myself determined to seek out my dream diesel Landcruiser. I spent months researching and making many, many phone calls to learn everything I could about importing a vehicle. I figured the best way, and most likely the only way I would be able to afford my dream diesel Landcruiser would be to import one myself. I found a few here and there on different classifieds around different countries, but none of them felt like the right one. Then one day while searching through Kijiji, I found the Cruiser that would eventually be mine. The cruiser was originally from Japan and had been imported to Calgary in 2013. I purchased the cruiser in November of 2014, and had officially finished the import process by January of 2015. I now owned my dream diesel landcruiser, Chewie - a 1988 HJ61 VX.

    My 2010 4x4 Tacoma before I sold it to buy Chewie
    [​IMG]

    Chewie shortly after I got him
    [​IMG]

    Beautiful view of Austin from inside Chewie
    [​IMG]

    I had the biggest smile on my face the first time I fired up the 12ht. I couldn't wait to get to work on building it out. I felt the name Chewie was a good fit for my new cruiser. Mainly because he was big and strong just like Chewbacca (also, the purr of the diesel reminded me of some of the sounds Chewbacca would make haha). I have slowly been building out Chewie to be overland ready. I wanted to have rig that could be daily driven comfortably, while still being geared up and prepared to go on an adventure at a moment's notice.

    So far I have built out a rear drawer system that doubles as a sleeping platform when the back seats are folded forward. I also wired in a 24v to 12v converter that runs to a blue sea fuse block to run my 12v accessories. I am slowly building the list of mods I plan to do to make Chewie ready for long primitive trips. I am happy to have finally made this thread so I can document my build and the journey of Chewie.

    The back before building out the drawers/ sleeping platform
    [​IMG]

    All built before carpeting
    [​IMG]

    Carpet glued and stapled down
    [​IMG]

    The 4" Queen size memory foam mattress. It folds up nicely when not in use.
    [​IMG]

    Cooking dinner one of the nights we were in Big Bend Ranch State Park
    [​IMG]

    All set up
    [​IMG]

    The stars were absolutely breath taking out in Big Bend
    [​IMG]

    Crossing a dry river bed
    [​IMG]

    leaving Big Bend
    [​IMG]
     
  2. RMP&O

    RMP&O OCD

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    A tape deck boom box for camp music!?

    Dude you rock!!

    Cheers
     
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  3. toaster62

    toaster62

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    Haha yea! that thing has been in my family since before I was born. I remember every camping trip growing up my parents having that boom box out playing music. My Dad gave it to me just recently to enjoy it on my trips. When I added the 6 new D cell batteries it pretty much doubled in weight haha!
     
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  4. Stephen835259

    Stephen835259

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    Awesome! I fell in love with diesel Landcruisers too a while back. Once you get it, its a bug you just can't shake.
     
  5. toaster62

    toaster62

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    I know what you mean! I was blown away when I first learned of all the awesome options every other country got except the US. We got the short end of the stick on that deal! I was surprised when Chewie arrived and didn't have a full floating rear, I thought that all the JDM cruisers came with them?:( I did however love that fact that it had the PTO winch with an upgraded heavy duty shear pin:D

    all it needed was a a good coat of high heat grill paint and some fresh grease.
    [​IMG]
     
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  6. ryanCA

    ryanCA

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    Congrats on achieving the dream
    I am envious

    Your truck is my dream truck

    Sadly I can't have it till I move out of god forsaken California and it's nasty laws

    Till then I live vicariously through you
     
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  7. shredlightly

    shredlightly

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    Very, very nice!! Congrats and looking forward to the build!!
     
  8. Mr Tibbs

    Mr Tibbs

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    Welcome to the USA HJ61 club! Looks like you are doing right by it and USING IT! Awesome! What are the future plans?
     
  9. mcguirejohnson

    mcguirejohnson SILVER Star

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    Awesome 61 and awesome dude!

    I'm going to need some help soon getting that glow screen figured out man... I found some of the 24v parts that you can have when we meet up again.
     
  10. mongoose2231

    mongoose2231 SILVER Star

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    Welcome! great truck. I miss camping.
     
  11. SteveH

    SteveH

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    Great photos, great boom box.
     
  12. jamesg

    jamesg

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    The evening photo you took was outstanding! What camera and light did you use. Also could you share with us briefly the process getting it federalized? This got me thinking about threads with Cdan and Beno talking about the enormous effort they put into getting parts for these old girls and I for the life of me can not understand why the U.S. is, oh I don't know left out when it comes to what we are offered. Anyway sorry for the rant and you have a great truck; enjoy!
     
  13. 87CRUSR

    87CRUSR SILVER Star

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  14. SteveJackson

    SteveJackson Supporting Vendor

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    You absolutely can have one, even in California. If it has been registered in another state first, it's an easy transfer like any other used car.

    Land Cruisers Direct - Home
     
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  15. toaster62

    toaster62

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    Agh that is a bummer man! Hopefully you'll get your dream rig one day!

    Thanks for the welcome! I definitely bought this rig to use it as much as possible. Right now I'm taking care of a few more maintenance things that need to be done and then plan to tackle some more upgrades. I have my on board air kit sitting in my barn waiting for me to mount it on Chewie when I get a free weekend. I am also trying to figure out what I want to do as far as suspension goes. I want to stay lower to the ground this time around compared to my last build and want comfort to be more of the priority since I plan to take the rig on long trips. I was thinking either AALs all around, extended shackles and new shocks. Or wait a while and go with a whole new lift, just haven't decided on which kit. I'm not trying to be cheap on the suspension, I'm just not wanting too much lift honestly haha. I am also thinking about getting some small swing arms made for the rear bumper to carry some extra fuel, but that will be more into the distant future. I also will probably thing up a better privacy curtain set up down the road. Right now I just have tarp clips hung by some paracord that clip onto some extra black out curtains I had lying around so we can stealth camp with some privacy haha. That is just an overall todo list for now. I'm sure things will add on as my journey with Chewie continues.

    Haha well considering mine isn't hooked up either, maybe we can make it a day where we both sit down and figure it out! I also have your compressor I need to get back to you man. When are you leaving for Lubbock again?

    Thanks guys!

    I can take no credit for the amazing photography. All credit goes to my girlfriend and her awesome expertise(www.ashleyeubanksphotography.com). She and I have found a great common ground for our passions, mine being adventuring and seeing all the beauty this world has to offer, and hers being capturing said adventures and beauty! She uses a Canon 5D Markiii and for the star picture just had a 30 second exposure and we used the lights on our Iphones to light up Chewie in the picture.

    The process of getting it legal seemed pretty intimidating at first, but once I knew everything that was needed it became a pretty simple process. Basically I just needed all documentation of original export from Japan as well as the Canadian Ownership document (basically a title). From there it was just a matter of filling out all the proper forms and paying an import tax at the border then paying a "use" tax once I got it in Texas and went to register it. I also had to meet with the local police department to have them inspect the vehicle and confirm it wasn't chopped or anything as well as approve the 10 digit vin so I could get it legally registered. It was a great feeling the day I picked up my plates and knowing that I now legally had finished importing my dream rig. Sometimes parts can be a bit tough to find, but to me thats all part of the journey of owning Chewie haha.
     
  16. mcguirejohnson

    mcguirejohnson SILVER Star

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    Sounds like a plan to me! Chances are we won't need them but I'd like to hook mine up for a peace of mind.

    Right on, I will get to setting that up next spring when it gets hot haha. I will be up there January 15th!
     
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  17. mk4leo

    mk4leo

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    You know Dobre? He was telling me about a friend in Austin who got a 60 a while back. Awesome rig!
     
  18. toaster62

    toaster62

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    Haha yea I've known Matt for a good while now. He's had a bunch of awesome builds over the years. His Jeep Commander is coming along pretty nice right now. What part of Houston are you from?
     
  19. mk4leo

    mk4leo

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    Yeah he has. We're supposed to be camping at the beach this saturday but weather is looking crappy. I was over by the NRG stadium but moved to the heights about a year ago.
     
  20. toaster62

    toaster62

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    Oh Right on man. I recorded at a studio in the heights back when I still lived in Conroe. If I were to ever move back to Houston, I would definitely move to the Heights. Dang what beach were ya'll going to go camp at? Coincidentally my girlfriend and I are heading down to Surf Side beach to camp on Saturday, then driving over to Galveston State Park to camp Sunday and Monday nights, Then heading up to Bolivar Peninsula to camp Tuesday night before heading back to The Woodlands and Conroe for thanksgiving with our families. If ya'll do end up going down there let me know and we can all meet up.