FJ40 as Only Car? (Northern VA)

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May 9, 2019
Jacksonville, FL -> Northern Virginia
Hi all,

Im really glad I've found this forum as it is so full of valuable resources (you all). I am looking to move on from my 2003 Subaru forester that I owned through high school and college. My parents have a '93 FJ80 which is a great truck, but I am hoping to get something with a bit more character (FJ40 or 60). I live in Jacksonville, FL currently, but I will be moving to northern Virginia at the end of the summer and commuting to Bethesda for work (~30 miles of highway driving).

From scouring these forums, it seems like the general consensus is that the FJ40 is not great for longer commutes and the FJ60, while not great, is significantly better. But I REALLLY prefer the FJ40.

I have also considered supplementing some of the drive via metro. Hypothetically, the total drive would be 40 minutes without traffic (~50 miles RT highway). Instead, I could drive 10 miles to the nearest metro (20 min) then take the metro to work (~1hr). It would double my commute time, but I could definitely be productive with the metro time. This way, I wouldnt have to spend hours on the highway in traffic every day, and could still enjoy the FJ on the weekends.

FJ owners,

Would I be miserable or could I make it work?
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Only think I have to offer is consider the poor gas mileage of a 40 or 60 series. Also I would not feel comfortable parking a FJ40 in a parking lot all day unless it was secured from thief. Probably won't leave a 60 series parked unsecured either.
Have you driven a 40? If not you should before you make the decision. You may find it a poor choice as a daily-use vehicle.
X3 what they said. I have owned mine for 41 years now and drove it for the first two as my DD. I had very short commute but even then after the first year I was looking at an econo car to be my DD. These are not designed to be a good fit with the modern commuting world. It seems that I enjoy it even more now that I only drive it for the "fun" trips. I would also be reluctant to leave my 40 in a public parking lot all day.
I have been driving my 78 FJ40 as a 70% daily for the past 10 months or so. I added a sniper fuel injection system into it which has made it a reliable driver.
I love driving it, and the smile it puts on mine and others faces.
It's definitely a bumpy, and rattly ride, but my new bluetooth stereo system really helps with that.

If you do some upgrades like I did, you should be good to go.

With all that being said... It will suck the gas... But that's not an issue for me.

78 mustard.jpg
I will be the odd ball

I have been DD my truck for well over 27 years... In that time I have logged close to 300000... i used to drive many years 25k miles ... now its like .7 miles from work.... so have not been racking up the miles as much

I have rebuilt mine a few times as I live in the rust belt of NY and has drove in the New England/ny area it's whole life... It has been garaged for only several months here and there ... Everything else its been outside :) , if it can rust it will

I could go years with minimal repairs... And most things are annoyances that can be fixed with taking apart and cleaning... if its a 40 minute drive, it will be 50 minutes in a 40... I just roll with it... a friend just sold his 60 that he'd drive all over as i do my 40. His 60 had close to 500,000 as I do ... but... finally sold it as the rust just got too bad on it... if its a rust area think aluminum or fiberglass tub

A DD ( in cold weather area) I would recommend:

4 wheel disc brakes
Front and rear heaters
Dual batteries
A 60 series starter
And a block warmer :)

These are modifications I made to my 1974 fj40

I am not worried about my carbon footprint ... Nor gas mileage ... These are FSP's ... It gets me to where I need to go ... Reliably .... And safely

I get about 12 mpg around town and 14/15 highway these days... Worst I've got was about 10-11

The best part is the infinite possibilities... The worst part is everybody calls it a Jeep :)

I lived in boston and had it broken into several times... had it keyed a few times as well
My 40 was my daily driver from 1978 until 1998 with a brief period for the first V-8 swap in 82 then again , in 90, when it was down for a TBI V-8 and other changes. I had a 600 ninja to drive for that period and a gs 1000 for the first. Arizona is a different environment.
I took the top off in 80 and only had to throw on a soft top once or twice a year for a few days. I would do it again if I didn't have a 100 lb dog that goes everywhere. Now I have the 60
I daily drove my 40 for over 15 years. As a bachelor I'd say go for it. If you find a spouse and have kids the 40 will find a new place in your life.

Life's too short to drive a practical car.
I did exactly what you are describing for the better part of year until I picked up a 2003 outback for cheap. I would either drive 70 miles in the 40, or go about 5 miles to the train station and pull the fuel kill switch. However I have the luxury of 20+ mpg, PS, disc brakes, 5th gear, not much road salt etc.

Consider keeping the Subaru - they’re reliable, cheap to fix, and the awd is great for commuting in the winter. Save the miles you put on the 40 for fun stuff, not work.
Sometimes the journey is the destination.

I agree except the same destination five days a week probably fifty weeks a year that destination becomes boring no matter what. I'll take comfort and audio I do not have to turn way up to hear or cover up the rattles. No longer have any commuting as I've been unemployed for six years. But do a number of a hundred and fifty miles trips. In the past when I would go camping or hunting would drive my FJ40. In 1993 when I purchased a vehicle big enough to tow the FJ40 gladly that ended. Any one who has driven a stock FJ40 for long periods knows the gas pedal is at angle that cause the ankle to cramp.
It's not the fact of daily driving a 40, it's the fact of daily driving a 40 in northern Virginia. A 25 mile one way trip may take 45 minutes.

Or more.

The heat and humidity in the summer.

The people who will cut in front of you if there is 18" of space.

I'd rather drive a dump truck through that region.
If you go for it, and I don’t recommend it, to JohnnyC’s list add 3.70 gears from a FJ60. It’ll help get the RPMs down (mostly) and the fuel mileage up (a tad). But even with those and 33s, I still find myself reaching for a 5th gear I don’t have.
I daily drive a 40. Mine has been a dd for about 5 years now with no real issues. In winter I throw the hard top on and spring I go top les, the worst part is in between seasons.
FWIW, I daily drive a 1982 bj45 Troopy. I have always owned a long wheelbase 40 series. The ride is sooo much better than a short 40, and it is my family hauler, dump runs, etc, very practical in my opinion. It still needs all the things people have mentioned. I recently did some sound deadening and weatherstrip and it pretty darn cozy now. I would consider a 45 series in your search!
I've never had a 40 but I have came close to owning one several times. Every time I ended up walking away from the 40 because it would've been my daily driver and had to be reliable. Unfortunately on anything as old as 40's are, things go bad. Things break, things need fixing, and you'll find yourself working on it in the garage more than you are driving it.

Now FJ40's are pretty reliable little cars, but at least with the budget I was working with I wouldn't have been able to afford some fully restored piece. I would've bought something original. maybe with a slight lift and that's it.

I daily drove a 1984 Jeep CJ-7 for a while and absolutely loved driving it. But hated working on it all the time and even though it was just me I found that the lack of space in the back and having to worry about it getting stolen all the time made me hesitant to drive it and I got rid of it and got a Toyota truck.

Obviously Jeeps aren't anywhere close to being as reliable to the 40. But they're close enough in size and practicality and I can tell you if you get a 40 no matter how much you love it it might get old after a while and you'll find yourself wanting or getting something else. So if you do get the 40 - keep it as a toy and get some cheap 4 banger for the DD.

Just my .02. Good luck!

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