FJ55 Tow Vehicle

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Feb 22, 2006

I'm looking at possibly getting an FJ55 as a tow vehicle. I picked the FJ55 because I want something that has more "character" than an american pickup. I'm wondering about these rigs on the freeway with the stock engine and tranny. I'm also wondering if you might be able to help me with engine/tranny swap options.

I will not be off-roading/rock-crawling. This will only be an around town and freeway vehicle.

I will be towing cars on a flatbed trailer, so around 3500-5000 lbs.

I would like a fully automatic transmission and I would think a SBC 350 would be a good engine for towing these loads. Can you help me fill in the blanks?
Tow Rig

Sure it can be done. I am in the process of putting a SBC into my piggy. I am upgrading the cam and putting in new vortec heads. Hopefully I am looking at about 300-350 hp, more importantly 350-400 ft lbs of torque. I am also going to use it for a mixed bag of things mainly towing and offroading.

As far as a tranny goes if your main function will be towing I would go with beefy tranny. I am putting in an NV4500. It is a manual put from what I understand bulletproof.

Look at dieselcruiserheads rig. He did a diesel conversion with the NV4500 tranny. I understand he can tow a quite a bit......

Gooof luck and welcome.
I can and have even though it is SOA and on 35's but it will never be comparable to a 3/4 or 1 ton pickup, period. I have tried long and hard but you just can't beat the 1/2 ton out of a FJ55 at least but I think all cruisers, no matter what engine/tranny/axles you have. A lot of it has to do with wheel base as well. It is like towing with a Chevy 1500 standard cab. Works but not best IMO...
I have a GMC Sierra 2500 with a 454 and a 700r4, I forget which t-case, 14 bolt rear, IFS front.
I wouldn't try towing with a 350 if you are any where with mountians. The 7.4L engine is just enough to get my 4800# travel trailer over Donner pass.

Trust me you will want the extra power when you get stuck behind Ma and Pa Kettle who slow to a crawl on grades and free wheel downhill.

Automatics are nice but I think a stick is a lot more durable when towing, I killed mine at 125K miles. Around 50K of that was towing. Of course 25K was dirt. :D

If you go with a newer Vortec you may be okay a far as I know they develop a lot more HP for the displacment.

If I were doing it I would go for a diesel, with a stick. Ditch the Toy drive train and axles. Find a wrecked doaner Dodge or GMC and swap out the drive train.
Getting a powerful motor in there is only half the battle. Maybe the less important half. The brakes are the real issue here IMHO. The stock brakes are OK for just the truck and a light duty trailer. But add a car hauler and car and the brakes are quickly overwhelmed even with trailer brakes. You're in for an axle swap to 3/4 or 1 ton axles along with a motor swap to do what you want safely IMHO.

As for small block vs. big block... I tow with a '93 GMC 3500 Vandura cube van. It has a TBI'd 350 backed by a 4L80E auto and a 14 bolt dually rear. I normally travel from southern Indiana to the east coast and on up into New England. Most of the time the van will pull up the hills at no less than 50 mph and will run the speed limit inbetween no problem. Sure, I wish I had a big block. Heck, I wish I had the coin to toss a better cam into the 350. None the less the 350 gets the job done so I don't complain too loudly about it.


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