Finally Found One! My FJ80 Build Thread

Joined
Jun 7, 2005
Messages
604
Location
Portland, OR
Well guys, I finally found an FJ80. I was browsing Expedition Portal last Wednesday and I was surprised to see a front page write-up about a white 1996 FZJ80 with in Los Angeles. I had been looking for a late model FZJ80 up here in Portland for quite some time now, and I was adamant that it *had* to be white. I'd been looking for months and the cash was burning a hole in my pocket.

At 227,000, this particular rig had higher miles than I wanted, but it also had factory lockers, an ARB front bumper, 3" OME heavy lift, Kaymar tire carrier, 33" BFG KM2's, a CB, a quick detach roof bar system, and a home-built sleep platform. The guy had owned it for seven years, it came with some pretty major records, it appeared to be well maintained, and he's a member with a good reputation on here and ExPo. I sent him an email with my phone number as well as a list of questions, but I honestly wasn't expecting a reply. Later on in the day there were literally multiple guys telling him they'd take it, sight unseen, for his asking price, and more replies to a for sale thread than I've ever seen in that short of time.

I was watching The Walking Dead with my girlfriend when the phone rang, and it was an LA number. We talked for a good hour about the good and the bad, which was a good sign that the guy wasn't full of crap. He mentioned everything he knew about the rig, and all the things it would need, no matter how minor. He also sent me a bunch of very detailed photos. In that time period I was able to determine that I wanted to take a chance with this rig, and I knew if I was going to get it I'd have to make the deal before we got off the phone. I offered him $5300, and told him I'd be on the first flight down the next day.

"The List"
- Burns oil
[STRIKE]- Chunk of rubber missing from right rear sidewall. [/STRIKE]
- Passenger window is slow to roll up.
- When the door is closed the door locks lock, then unlock. Seller said this happened after he had it detailed. The alarm was removed because it was going off at random times.
- Tape and CD functions don't work, I'll need a new head unit.
- Broken right rear tail light.
- A couple interior dash lights are burned out.

"Things I've Discovered"
[STRIKE]- Exhaust leak from one of the flange gaskets.[/STRIKE]
- Play in the steering wheel (according to the girlfriend, doesn't bother me).
- Needs rear brakes.

I recruited a buddy to fly down with me and drive it home. When we got there it was just as it appeared in the photos, and everything he told me on the phone was correct. The only thing not mentioned, and I truly believe he didn't know about it, was an odd engine oil leak. We noticed the top of the transmission tunnel is wet, the top of the transmission is dry, and the bottom of the engine and transmission are wet but before the weep hole where they mate together. We couldn't find any sign of where the leak was coming from. One of the things he mentioned was that it burns a quart of oil every 2000 miles or so, but because he didn't know about the leak I'm hoping that might have something to do with it (though that much oil would most certainly drip on the ground, I would think).

After inspecting it for a good hour I decided to pull the trigger. We did the deal and my buddy and I headed North for the drive home. Because you can never really get a good feel for a rig on a test drive, it took us an hour or two of driving to form an opinion. Both of us were in disbelief at how well the thing ran and drove. Letting go of the steering wheel at 80mph, the thing tracked straight as an arrow. While a little wobbly, probably due to the 10" wide 33" tires and the lift, it handled surprisingly well. The engine had great power and the transmission shifted like it was new. The ride home was without incident.

When I presented it to the girlfriend, she was less than impressed. Her biggest issues with it were the play in the steering wheel (about 4 inches), the condition of the interior, and the smell of exhaust, which neither I nor my buddy noticed.

I couldn't wait to get it outdoors, so I planned a light wheeling trip to Brown's Camp for Sunday. One of the issues mentioned is that there was a large chunk taken out of the sidewall of the right rear tire, close to the wheel. The seller said he had it checked out and he'd driven on it like that for quite some time, but I wanted to be certain it wasn't going to be a problem on the trail. The day before the trip I found the only place with 255/85 KM2's in stock. Since the spare was garbage I had both rears replaced, with the other rear going on the spare. I now had two new tires, two front tires with about 40%, and a good spare. When we get the money we're going to replace the fronts, as soon as possible.

The wheelin trip was incredible. The only downside to the Land Cruiser was the size, and we're not going to do anything about that. Sure, our Jeep buddies were making fun of us, but this thing drove so nice on the trail and over obstacles that my girlfriend fell asleep in the back seat! We had so much fun we're planning another trip this Sunday :D

I took it to the exhaust shop yesterday, and sure enough, there was a leak from one of the flange gaskets. I do most of my own work, but the shop where I do it is 50 miles away. They quoted me $100 to fix it, so I jumped on the chance to preserve my knuckles and gas money.

All in all, I'm in love with this thing. I'm a little concerned as to whether I did the right thing by paying a bit more for one that already had the accessories I wanted. The body is very straight, aside from a dent in the right rear door area, but the interior is only fair and quite dirty. I also have to factor in the two new tires and the travel expenses, which were around $1,000 total. The thing is, the more I drive it and the more fun I have with it, the more I don't think about it.

One of my biggest problems isn't a problem with the actual vehicle, but with myself. With most of my vehicle I have a 'vision' for the end result, but I can't decide how far I want to take this thing as far as off-road capability. My original plan was to outfit it as an all around camping/fishing/shooting/get-out-of-the-city rig, but quite a few of my friends wheel some pretty hardcore trails and love to crawl rocks. How do you find a happy medium without too much risk of irreparable damage to the rig? Something I have to think about, I suppose, but I'll be ordering a set of MetalTech sliders on Monday. Until I figure out my answer to these questions, I'll go to work on fixing the things that are wrong with it and cleaning it up in general. My next large project will be to get some sort of liner on the fenders and lower sections, which will really clean up the look. I also need to go through the rear brake system and replace the pads as well as the e-brake stuff, since it's engaging at the tip of the handle range.

Anyhow, if you've made it this far, thanks for reading. Here are some photos!

These are a couple that were sent before I flew down:

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Playing up at Brown's Camp

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Photos from today, with the new rear tires and a little mud :D

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Last edited:
Joined
Apr 22, 2012
Messages
105
Nice rig! I like the write up so far too. Nice style :)
 
Joined
Jun 29, 2011
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Location
Phoenix, AZ
Congrats!
Looks like a nice rig and I think you got a great deal. You could probably sell it for $7500 in Portland anytime you want, so enjoy it.
How is the coolant level in the reservoir tank and radiator? Have you checked it and or had to top it off?
 
Joined
Sep 11, 2012
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433
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Jupiter, FL
Congratulations, and welcome to the addiction.
 
Joined
Jun 7, 2005
Messages
604
Location
Portland, OR
Thanks for the good words guys, that makes me feel all that much better about it :D

How is the coolant level in the reservoir tank and radiator? Have you checked it and or had to top it off?

Coolant in the reservoir is good. I haven't had to top it off, and the needle doesn't move past halfway on the gauge. I've been reading Mud enough that I watch the thing religiously. I forgot to mention, the original owner had it replaced as preventative maintenance at 85k because she didn't want to get stranded with her kids. I'm not sure if it was redesigned at that point (or since, for that matter).

One other thing I'd like suggestions on, the coolant is green rather than Toyota red. Should I do a coolant flush and replace it with the red stuff? It looks nearly new.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Apr 3, 2012
Messages
477
Location
AZ (Far East Valley)
Dont worry about what your girlfriend thinks. :princess: It only gets worse once you get married. Enjoy the truck and the new toy that should be arriving at your FFL in morning. :cheers:
 
Joined
Dec 16, 2009
Messages
1,427
Location
SLC, UTAH
Sounds like you made a great deal on your LC.

On your free play you may want to check to make sure all is tight up front. Next see if you can adjust any of it out with the PS/gear box.

White is a great color that's for sure. Cool in the summer and looks cleaner longer between washes. But I'm bias as well. Lol

Oh one other note:
You always want your best tires on the front. If you have a blow out its best if its the rear instead of your steering tires.

Just a thought.
 

Brentbba

Former Golfer
SILVER Star
Joined
Mar 27, 2003
Messages
10,678
Location
OC, CA
Congrats! For what's on the rig, bumpers front & rear and lift, I think you still got a good deal including your travel costs! I have to agree with you, insisting on white!!
 
Joined
Jan 18, 2008
Messages
2,361
Location
Boise, ID
Regarding the green versus red on the coolant, I believe the latest Prestone (green) is rated for our radiators, so it will work fine. Not sure what is in it, but if the previous owner is here on the MUD you know he probably did not use something that would damage the core.

If I am wrong, please disregard. Oh, an congrats! I wish mine had come with those bumpers!
 
Joined
Mar 14, 2006
Messages
1,085
Location
Belfair, Wa
Good Buy !! I bet you had fun at Brown's Camp, that's a fun place to wheel ! As far as the size, I know what you mean. I went from a 40 to my 80, I'm finally getting used to it. I do like the comfort factor for sure !! :beer:
 
Joined
Jul 13, 2012
Messages
74
Location
Duvall, Wa
How do those KM2's sound? Are they loud? do they handle well.
Nice to see that you got that rig, it looks great!
Keep it moderate. These things are classy, not to be trashed by hard-core wheeling. (my .02$)
I look forward to seeing this transform.
 
Joined
Nov 17, 2012
Messages
4
Location
Molalla, OR
Very cool cruiser! The more of these I read about the more I want one. I am kind of going through a similar process trying to decide how and what to build in order to hit some trails but not have something so extreme that it drives terribly on the street. I started out with a samurai that I built from the ground up with linked and locked yota axles and a motor swap etc. and just got bored with it when I really couldn't drive it on the road. Then I bought a 85 toyota extra cab and rebuilt the 22re, locked it, hydro assist etc etc. but it just doesn't have much power. I'm really thinking about selling it now and buying an 80. I just wonder how these things do in the snow with all the extra weight?
 
Joined
Jan 1, 2011
Messages
76
Location
Kelowna BC, Canada
Website
www.smithmillwork.ca
Coilysammi,

You should definitely sell the pickup. The 80 series are so nice. I bought mine coming from a sweet Sami hardtop with spools and an exo cage. It was the best thing I ever did. I have put 12k miles on mine with only a belt change and two oil changes. 80 s are by far the best truck ever built bar none.
 

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