Help me with my first Cruiser purchase... thoughts

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate
links, including eBay, Amazon, Skimlinks, and others.

Apr 17, 2003
This is a 96 FZJ80 completely stock with 75,000 miles on the odometer. Everything is in excellent condition, as you would imagine a vehicle this age with this low number of miles to be.

It does not have the factory lockers. The asking price is $15,900 but I don’t think I would pay more than $15 for it.

It is white, which is the only color I would consider here in the desert. The interior is cloth.

My concern is the lack of lockers. This will not be a crawler as I have a very well built jeep for that purpose. My intentions for the Cruiser will be as an everyday driver but well-equipped for those long weekend trips to the remote country. I don’t see myself weighing it down with heavy aftermarket body and drive train armor. I’m wondering if I even need lockers.. at least at this point. I imagine I would run BFG AT's in the 33" range or whatever the metric equivalent.

My priorities for a FZJ80 in order are:
White color.
Low Miles (under 80k).
Factory Lockers
Cost under $17k

This Cruiser meets the first 3. Should I wait for factory lockers? How much to add lockers in the aftermarket? ARB's? Im not in the biggest of hurries but I have only seen one other for sale in the past few months that even was a consideration but again no lockers and higher mileage than I wanted.

Any thoughts or ideas to share will begreatly appreciated.

Re: Help me with my first Cruiser purchase... thou

First, don't mention the Heep again

Second, wait for one w/ lockers

Third, once you get one with lockers you can sell the Heep because it will not even compare
Re: Help me with my first Cruiser purchase... thou

You've answered your own questions.

My question would be why the factory lockers are on the list of priorities when you've established that you don't ever intend to use it for heavy off-road; no armor, small tyres, daily driver.

The factory lockers are great and most of us would have them at the top of the list of priorites or very high on the list. Many (but not all) on this list use our trucks off-road and don't have another rock crawler. Some use them for street and very light trail use.

If your needs change and you decide to dump the heep and use the Cruiser for heavy off-road then you can retrofit ARB lockers ( under $3,000) and all the other accessories your pocketbook can stand. (Quit grinning Christo!)

In summary, buy the white 96 in great condition before it's gone.

Re: Help me with my first Cruiser purchase... thou

Price isn't too high. As for factory lockers, you'll be looking at about $4K to add them in. CruiserDan here has done that conversion and if you search the past threads there's info on it. ARBs run about $650 for the locker, $199 for the compressor, plus install.

Do you "need" lockers....well, it depends. I am open front and rear with my 1992, and have been very pleased with the flex and abilities without lockers; and thus far have been able to take lines following fellow 80s that are locked and have done just fine. That being said, I will probably go the ARB route, at least in the rear. Of course, mine is my daily driver and weekend wheelin' rig too.

Since you're not in a hurry, you can afford to wait and not be out anything.

The mileage on this one is good, though.

Re: Help me with my first Cruiser purchase... thou

Larry, was this the cruiser for sale in in Phoenix? I'm in the same boat as you...white color is the only way to go in the desert, low miles and diff locks.

I installed a rear diff lock in my 1st gen 4runner. One can easily buy the factory 8" hi-pinion front locking diff for around $800 new in 4.1, 4.3, or 4.56 gears, but you'd need to build your own locking circuit (no big deal...only 2 relays) for each diff. I don't know where you can get the locking rear 9.5" diff other than from the dealer, though. In either case, if it's the same as w/ my 8" rear diff, you have to cut out a notch in the axle housing for the actuator motor, then weld a bead to increase the gasket surface area around the actuator (grind down the bead to form a wider gasket area), then drill some additional holes and tap them for the new gasket pattern. Other than that, it bolts right up! It was a major project, though. Since this project would run around $2K+ for the two diffs alone (assuming you do the welding/grinding yourself). I'd wait or even be willing to pay a few grand more for a cruiser w/ diff locks just to save the hassle.
Re: Help me with my first Cruiser purchase... thou

Be honest with yourself. If you don't plan on wheeling the piss out of it then you probably don't need lockers. But if you do get them your heep will quickly become a joke to you.

Just my abbreviated .02
Re: Help me with my first Cruiser purchase... thou

There is no welding required on the rear axle housing of the 80. the front requires heavy modifications to the diff mounting surface. Do-able, I chose to change the housing in the front. You don't need to fab relays, etc , because the cowl harness has the plugs in it for the ECU, the switch and the indicators. wiring to the rear is another matter, but still do-able.

Bottom line: toss a bunch of cash at it and yer done :G (moneypit)
Re: Help me with my first Cruiser purchase... thou

Don't forget the NV desert. I was looking for the same requirements when I bought mine and ended up with one without lockers but I got low miles (62,000 on a '94), full floating axle and cloth interior. 3 out of 4 was acceptable. Besides, just as eveyone else says, you can add the lockers. I have done what I consider 3 to maybe 4 difficult rating trails without the lockers along with Hltoppr (no lockers either but don't tell him I told you). They would have helped in a few spots but speed can overcome...right Junk? :D
Re: Help me with my first Cruiser purchase... thou

darned internet explorer :(

Typed a nice little(ok long) reply and clicked to submit... 'puter locks up and all is lost! Let me try again.

Hltoppr, Jim... Im in phoenix and yes this is the 80 in the autotrader(any thoughts on it? are you looking for the same?) Sent my fiance by there yesterday since she works close to it. She took a co-worker(fellow Jeeper :) ) with her to inspect it over for me. Also, is there any local Cruiser clubs? I found the website but it seems to have cob webs growing on it.

The locker issue...
I've been bitten by the fly fishing bug and have no friends that share this passion. This will lead me to travelling to remote and distant places all by my lonesome. Will I need lockers... I hope not! The added insurance though is worthy of putting them on my shopping priority list. I wish I could see far enough in the future to have a clear answer to whether I will need them frequently or not. I just honestly dont know what types of situations I will see. The cruiser will definately see plenty of backcountry roads but I doubt I will be doing trail rides with it.

[not listening]to you guys try to dog my jeep[/not listening] :G

First off, two totally different types of vehicles and two totally different purposes. I'm not going to take an 80 series to the trails out at Table Mesa nor am I going to drive my jeep 300 miles up to the White Moutains and expect to enjoy the ride there and a nicely equipped campsite.

Fellas, thanks for the input... feel free to add to it.

Re: Help me with my first Cruiser purchase... thou

Good choice on a vehicle!

I had the same questions when I bought. Got a 93 in December with lockers after thinking hard about many good deals without lockers. I am glad I did. There is a reason C-dan spent $$$$ to retrofit them.

People told me that even if you off road your 80 you won't use lockers much and therefore can live without. They told me this because I told them what you did, which is that I intended to use it to camp, but I changed my mind a little about that once I figured out what the truck would do.

It's true you don't need them much, but when you need them once an outing it's because otherwise you are stuck :ugh:. 80's are heavy. You don't want to get them stuck. It's also true that once you commit to a long trail and then come to a tricky unexpected obstacle half way along the chances are you are going to try it rather than back out.

I bought my 80 to camp in the woods with my kids not to rock crawl, but I'm a total offroad rookie so I've been out with local off roaders to learn what I can and can't do. I and the offroaders I've been out with have been surprised to discover that a stock 80 with a greenhorn city slicker driving it is able to keep up to a heavily modified jeep or pickup and can go basically anywhere except really super nasty stuff. This opens up lots of camping trips I would not have considered when I bought the thing. I've found the lockers are the key. In a pinch, lock up and you can creep through, over and up stuff where open diff vehicles have much more trouble.

So my advice is get lockers if you plan to take it off road even just to camp. They make the difference between a very good off-road vehicle and one that is awesome. For the same $, why not hold out for the best?

FWIW My 2 cents is also to pay $4k less and get a 93 or 94 with about 120k. It is not worth $1,000 for each 10,000 miles of engine wear you avoid. I started out wanting the lowest mileage and most recent truck too. The reality is that at 75k you are going to start doing preventative maintenance soon anyway, especially if you are anal and take pride in your truck (take a look at the front seals on the 96 and see if it looks like the seals are leaking -- I bet they are). I now firmly believe you should buy a little older and higher mileage and spend the money you save on repacking the axles (if not already done) some decent tires, a full tune up, new OME shocks and springs (even if no lift)and other goodies (don't write off the armour yet).
Re: Help me with my first Cruiser purchase... thou


Thanks for the words of wisdom. Interesting thoughts regarding the higher mileage vehicle... unfortunately I dont think there is going to be a huge difference in price between this one and an older one with higher miles at least here in Arizona.

I guess I will wait and go with whatever vehicle speaks to me.

Something has me hesitating from driving the 10 miles to see this particular vehicle. Maybe those lockers are higher on my priority list than I first thought. :)
Re: Help me with my first Cruiser purchase... thou

Lockers are a must my friend-If 40's had them as an option, I would have searched till I found one with them :G. Lockers mean you have less need for articulation, less need for articulation=better road ride. This way, you can still with stock springs/spring height and just slightly more aggressive tires (All/Mud Terrain pattern) and go places a limited slipped or open vehicle would need very good articulation and good tires to get too. All in all, if you want to be able to drive long distances in comfort, with the comfort of knowing you will be able to get around back in the woods better than just about anything once you get there; an 80 with lockers is for you.
(Cause if all you cared about was getting around in the woods you'd have a 40 series...but we don't even want to touch on those road thereof. :ugh: :D
Re: Help me with my first Cruiser purchase... thou


If you are thinking you want the lockers and are willing to spend a few $ to retrofit (OEM, ARB), then just apply the $ now and spend a few grand more to get one with lockers.

An alternative is to look at some Lexus LX450s, many (I think all in Canada where I live) seem to have lockers and they may be less thrashed than a LC with lockers. Although mine seemed to be so rarely used that it took some time to get them going again.

Cheers, Hugh
Re: Help me with my first Cruiser purchase... thou

Eight Oh,

I looked for 2 1/2 months in Southern California to find the '96 with lockers. I only came across 4. Only 2 of the owners knew they had them. The one I bought had 115K on it. The PO took really good care of it mechanically, but not cosmetically. I paid 15k for it. I don't have to worry about putting the first scratch or dent on it, nor will I put the first tear in the interior. That stuff's already there. But she runs great!

I guess my point is put the lockers on a higher priority than cosmetic condition and low miles. I haven't wheeled the 80 yet - just now getting it ready - but I have been stuck big time with other 4 wheel drive vehicles and, man, it is not fun. I've been stuck for for as long as a day. Each time it was a surprise when it happened. Guess you could call me a slow learner.

I'd rather be driving along singing "I got lockers, I got lockers"
than driving along thinking "wondering if I'll need lockers and darn it I don't have them"

My .04 worth even if its only worth .02.

Good luck,
Re: Help me with my first Cruiser purchase... thou

Hltoppr, I'm in the sonoran desert...tucson to be more exact. :) The front diff mods that cruiserdan was referring to were the ones I had to do to get the 8" toyota locking diff to fit my old 4runner. The 8" and 9.5" locking diffs must have different patterns (guess the 9.5" diff is large enough so the actuator can fit in the housing hole w/o cutting out a notch?) But if you can pull the axle housing, I know a fab guy in N. CA who can make the housing mods for $235 labor plus a few bucks for the long studs for the actuator motor (ya have to UPS him the housing). If you do a search under "toyota electric locker," you'll find myriad descriptions+photos of the procedures.
Re: Help me with my first Cruiser purchase... thou

The rear housing does need to be notched to clear the dog clutch but no welding is required. You just take the carrier gasket and use it as a template to determine how much material to remove. The area relieved is crescent moon shaped. It takes about 1/2 of the mounting flange surface out for about 2 inches or so (IIRC) At 9 o'clock on the mounting surface.
Re: Help me with my first Cruiser purchase... thou

Eight O,

Cool, another Arizonan! I'm in Flagstaff... Lockers are nice, don't get me wrong, but I've always done a winch prior to worrying about lockers, and do much of the same type of wheeling as you plan on. Lots of gear; not a whole lot of rock crawling.... That said, I've always been able to get where I need to go without lockers. Many will find this unsual, but my last FJ40 originally had a lock-right. My first mod was to remove it, as I couldn't imagine my wife being able to handle it in the snow. (Felt like I dropped a driveshaft everytime the thing locked up!)

Anyway, there are locked cruisers in Phx., they're just somewhat hard to find....ask BMT....

On the other hand, a buddy of mine and I just a couple months ago found one in Scottsdale, a 1994 with lockers and loaded for $13.5K.

If it's lockers you want, and don't plan on doing much more to the cruiser (ie, winch and bumper), then I'd wait.

Maybe be willing to give a little on the color...

Re: Help me with my first Cruiser purchase... thou


Let's get a bit longer link next time, shall we? 8)

Users who are viewing this thread

Top Bottom