Happy with your 3FE Powerd 80?

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Apr 23, 2003
Windsor, VT USA
I'm looking for a new family wheeler. Something I can pack up for camping, load up the family, but is still capable of pulling decent rails. It would get a lift, 33's (or so) armor, rear locker of some sort, etc. Nothing major. I had an FJ62 which I quite liked, a bit doggy on 33's but not to bad. It was rusting out from under me though it's gone.

I was never in love with the 3FE. Power wasn't great even on 31's.

I thought I'd find a solid FJ60 but my sub-$5k budget and the noticeable lack of cheaper FJ60's that aren't; already half-rust here in the Northeast has conspired against me.

So I've started looking at 80's. Seem like they would fit my needs. 93+ trucks would be great for the extra power but most are out of my budget. However the 3FE powered 80's seem to be the hidden gems price-wise with many going for FAR less then FJ60/62's. Full time 4WD, coils, all the good stuff, just with the carryover engine.

Would I be happy with a 3FE FJ80 or would I just be wishing I had more power all the time? It would be a shame not to be able to tow a small popup camper, or not be able to hold highway speeds up hills like my old 4runner.

Thoughts? Opinions? Discussion? I'm all ears.
On my 92 I've gutted the cats and bumped the timing and its running great (full tuneup also). I can set my cruise at 80 and pull steep, long hills without losing speed. I think having a good tune up is essential for these, there is also some AFM tweaks and other small tricks to maximize the 3fe. Im hoping to weld in pipes thru my cats and put a 2.5" exhause with a lighter turbo style muffler as well which is said to also wake things up on the highway. If you can get away with it you can de-smogg it. One other thing i actually like is my Grey-Blue cloth interior - I like it much better than almost all of the 93-94 leather interiors which seem to show a lot more wear. You also won't need to worry about HG trouble and I feel like the 3fe is so simple to work on. Don't get me wrong guys I love the 4.5 1fz 93-97 cruisers (especially 95-97) but with pricing considerations and everything set aside I think us 3fe 80's get too bad of a rap. The 3fe might struggle to pull a pop up camper up a steep long grade at 65mph but some 1fz guys act like thier 93-97 could pull a 20ft tandem axle camper up that same grade which is not the case (naturally aspirated). So I say if you find a great deal on a 91-92 then go for it and do a good tune-up, advance timing as much as you can, put an aussie locker in the rear and do whatever other mods you like and go have fun. P.s. I pulled a tandem jet ski trailer (loaded) 350 miles last summer at 85mph in a rush to get to the lake july 4th weekend. I bet that wieghs similar to a pop up trailer. I do run 31"s though. My 2 cents . . .
When I purchased my 92, it seemed pretty doggy. With some very simple adjustments, you can improve the power, acceleration and make the rig run much better. As you said, these rigs are hidden gems. I love mine.
I just picked up a FJ80, it is slow but not as bad as people make it sound. Also, the FJ80 will be very comparable power-wise to your previous FJ62.
MJADDICTION just put 4.88s in his and really really likes it now....
Bottom line is it's not a sports car. You all know how I feel about mine and the obvious has already been mentioned. A properly running 3FE is a good strong beast. Not a rocketship, but you can't beat it for reliability. The bees knees in the woods.

As with and 15+ year old vehicle that you purchase you'll want to address the issues that arise due to neglect. Vacuum lines dry up and crack, emissions systems get full of poop, valves don't get adjusted, cooling system, brake system, transmission all get overlooked.

I agree that the 3FE gets a bad rap here, but it's mostly from folks who don't know any better ;)

There is a 3FE Yahoo mail list that is invaluable to a 3FE owner. Tons of info.

i´ve had mine since new in 92. at 275k it still runs strong, i have 305/70/16 on it and it gets going but keep in mind its a heavy truck, i am completely happy with my 92. Would not traded for anything better, i had a 94 80 with lockers and sold that aftr a few months.
If you tweak things a little (timing, exhaust, AFM, de-smog) and still aren't happy, you can drop the coin for some 4.88s. Seems to be a great choice with up to 35's.
I love my 3FE

It sounds like I use my 92 allot like you are wanting to. I drive the car pool of kids to school on weekdays. I also take it camping and hunting. While I have the kids I don't need to be racing around like a teenager, and when I'm in the woods it climbs anything I have ever dared to climb over. I have pulled my son's BSA Troop's trailer to several camps including Fort Worth to Galviston Island (>300 miles) with no problem. I have only had trouble maintaining speed going over Wolf Creek Pass in CO. I'm not the rock crawler type, but don't let my signature line fool you. My 80 has been in the thick brush of East Texas and the draws and creeks of West Texas. In the 5 years I have owned this truck I have only needed more power for the 30 minutes I was crossing the pass. I'm happy with it.
The :princess: and I agree - we prefer the '92. Not a sports car, the rat's nest of vaccuum lines is a minus, but we like the 3FE. The tires are 31". We sometimes tow heavy utility trailers as well.
good to hear all the accolades, thank you everyone. :)

I'm hoping to look at a really nice 2F powered FJ60 this weekend but if it doesn't work out or gets sold before I get there then I'll keep looking for 80's for sure. :)

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