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*Long Post Warning*
Woah thats a pretty big question with a looooooooot of conflicting opinions.
Heres what I think, you may want to chime in with some specifics of your current cruiser condition, what you plan to do with it, shop, wrenching ability....etc...etc...etc

When I first bought my Cruiser my initial intention was to get it into Daily Driver condition (remember DD condition for me is considerably less than most, I have a ~1 mile roud trip daily). Once I accomplished this, I started to dream and plan about upgrades.
Originally I planned on dropping in a Chevy, parts availability and mmmm power were beckoning. I then realized that my cruiser would be down for waay longer than I wanted, and that I really liked the F engine, and wanted to keep things as original as possible. Almost went for a 2.5" lift, ended up with a 4", realized the pros of the 4" outweighed the cons (are there any ???.)
Here's my abbreviated conclusion:
I am a 1/2 restorer 1/2 off road modifier. I want the most I can get off road out of my cruiser, without losing that classic cruiser feel. I also found that many of the upgrades people rave about only seem like so much of an upgrade because their original equipment was worn out. Replace/repair the original first (unless its prohibitevly expensive) and see if you still want to upgrade. Hence, I concentrate on restoring the general condition of my cruiser, while infusing off road mods. Ie. instead of replacing my worn out suspension with new oem springs, I opted for a 4" lift. A good friend of mine purchased a '78 with a meticulous nearly perfect frame-up resto done, and it is a joy to drive on the road, and really makes you feel like you are test driving a new cruiser back in '78. It pains me to hear him talk about lifting it and cutting out fenders when its been so meticulously restored. Its a double edged sword, restore to factory specs, won't perform as well offroad, might cost a little more in the long run, do all the popular upgrades, lose some of that cruiser feel, I mean come on I know I can't outsmart the Toyota engineers. My favorite route is to upgrade using later Toyota cruiser parts, ie disc brakes, 2f 4 spd in a F engined cruiser. Let us know what you want to do with it, and you will get more specific advice. By the way, welcome, you'll find lotsa good advice and a few good laughs here too.
*Long Post Warning over*
It really depends on what you have.

In my opinion 25's 45's and very early or very late 40's that are complete and very near original to begin with, should be restored. When I say restored, I mean returned to original condition. Only problem is that when you do this, you cannot use it for it's intended purpose!

So that leaves a whole lot of 25's, 45's and 40's which can be modified either from mild to wild and actually used!
Great post, Bailey, and thanks for the warning. I think you hit the nail on the head, because, of course, I think the same way you do. Got a '66 40 and want to upgrade certain parts of it while remaining MOSTLY Toyota.
BTW...Like your Stars and Bars. Got a lotta Gray boys in my family, for a guy from Missouri. Blue ones too, but they were imports from PA.
Go Bulldogs!
Ed Long ;)
I feel that restoring any cruiser is a great idea. But wheeling it after restoration is an even better idea because that it what they where built for and it's great to remind people what a stock cruiser is capable of. These famous Toyota's trekking across Africa and many other countries where built for "off-Road" use in new condition or modified. They are happiset off the pavement and so am I. So strip it down to nothing make it look new and then show those other guys what a stock is capable of.
There is a member in my club that is taking an approach that I like as well, he is doing a frame-up resto, while also doing mild offroad mods, like SUA lift, power steering for street driveability, and probably a locker or two. Just whats most necessary. It will perform flawlessly, look reaaally good and still retain that great Toyota feel.
That said, I will probably eventually end up with a 45 or 55 restored as a DD, with a common 40 as a modified trail rig. I agree with Cruiser Nerd on that topic, I dream of owning a 45, 55, or 25, not enough room for a project right now.
Degnol-I have some gray shirts in the family as well, being from the GA, NC, TENN, tri state area.
Restoring is good for the soul...yours and the cruisers. My .02 on restoration. I like to keep them near as stock as will fit my objectives. I know thats a very gray statement. Here is a typical cruiser example that hits home with me and alot of others ....73 40 with them wonderful front drums (not bad in the dry but can be un-nerving in the heavy wet). I am changing out to the mini truck birfs and discs....all toyota...all bolt up...and a big safety improvement. What to do with all the old stuff ??? Clean it up, bag it and put it on the shelf. Want to run a 350 sb, 4" lift and some other dodads...all fine and not a huge PITA to revert back to stock long as you keep all you old original goodies on the shelf. In short do what you want but keep the option (and bits) to return it to it's stock self, should you or any future owner want to. For most of us except the very serious rock crawlers on board this approach should work. Hmmmm, giving some thought about what I would do if I were going to build a very serious crawler...I'd probably buy a $500 POS (in leiu of a nice straight clean original) and start there....anything done at that point is definitly an improvement.
I'm with the other fellas on this one. I started out with the intentions of a complete stock cruiser. I was considering purchasing another so I'd have one stockie and one more capable off-road. But I've decided that the type of off-roading I do, the cruiser is capable of as is (its not like I bought a jeep). So I'm just changing a few things that would be easy to change back should anyone want to. All the major stuff is original (except for some rust that will shortly be remedied). Stock a/c, complete body and frame with no mods and engine shall remain the same. Most of my improvements have been just replacing worn out stuff (knobs, upholstery, fixing rust, new clutch, new mirrors, etc.) Then I'm adding a mild lift mostly to replace the worn out springs.
I say personalize your cruiser to what you want. Part of the fun of owning a cruiser is working on it. Its great therapy for a long hour working computer geek like me.
What I need to know is when is it not wise to try to restore. I have a 1972 FJ40 with a lot of rust. The rocker panels are gone, the tailgate sill is gone,floor panels have some rust and the frame is rusty. Is it worth restoring one like this or is it better to just buy something better?
What I need to know is when is it not wise to try to restore. I have a 1972 FJ40 with a lot of rust. The rocker panels are gone, the tailgate sill is gone,floor panels have some rust and the frame is rusty. Is it worth restoring one like this or is it better to just buy something better?
I am working on the assumption that you want to restore to near factory specs for light wheelin and drivin?
1)'72 is not a bad year, later F, power dual circuit brakes 3spd on the floor was an option I believe, mechanical linkage on transfer.
2) The tailgate sill and floor panels don't bother me, thats very common and not too bad to replace. What does bother me is the rusty frame and "gone" rocker panels. Rocker panels normally aren't fully replacable with stock panels except in full tub implants, or cutting rockers out of another crusier and transplanting them. That would be a P.I.T.A. Is the frame rusty or rusted out? Surface rust is no biggy, sandblast + POR15 and you are set. Now if it has holes from rust or looks structurably unstable because of rust that is something to worry about.
3) You haven't mentioned drivetrain, so I am assuming that all is well in that department.
Try to get some pics of the cruiser and specifically the rust spots. &nbsp:Depending on frame condition it sounds like one that may be best used a parts truck for another pre-75 cruiser restore. If it were me I would try to find a southwest cruiser with good body and frame, and not worry about its drivetrain, and use the one you got. That is of course assuming yours is fine. More info/pics please and you will get more advice/insight/musings.
Starting with something that far gone, you gotta make your own decisions. Matkins make replacement frames, aqualu makes replacement bodies...Restoration-IMHO-is for something that's pretty dang good to start with...Modification is for personal reasons. I recently bought a really truely rust free 76fj40, and am working on what I would consider rest-i-fication. It will appear all stock, but have a nonusa h41 low ratio four speed and early transfer that were not original, but suit my purposes, and a toyota pto winch that didn't come with the truck, but again suits my purposes. It will appear all stock, but this stuff wouldn't show on the mso. But I will wheel it, even tho it's one of the nicest rigs i've seen. Conversely, my other 76, which was pretty nice, but getting rusty, has a 4" lift, sm420, celica seats, lots of sheet metal cut off, cause I'm gonna wheel it hard:) My would be worth a lot more restored, but it's going spring over, and sm420 with an orion case, casue I want to wheel it. If I thought I could wheel a sprung under 45 with impunity, and never hurt the restored body, I'd leave it alone. But the rear overhang is a killer, and I'm not chopping the bed...yet:)

What I need to know is when is it not wise to try to restore. I have a 1972 FJ40 with a lot of rust. The rocker panels are gone, the tailgate sill is gone,floor panels have some rust and the frame is rusty. Is it worth restoring one like this or is it better to just buy something better?
My take on this? It's your's, your hard earned money payed for it and you should do whatver you want with it.

I love my 40, and would love to find a 45 to restore, but it comes down to the fact that it's an still a truck, a conglomeration of steel and other bits.

I have a 63 vette thats completly original except for the tires. My neighbor has a 65 that's all pro streeted out. He gets flack from some of the vette guys around here, but not me. It's his and I respect what he does with it.

people that say that cruisers must be restored at all costs should of bought them before anyone else got their hands on it.

The most important thing is to have fun! :D
thanks for the info guys,I'll post up some pics and the picture will probably be crystal clear on what path I should follow
Alot of it would depend on how much time, money, expertise,  and desire to learn you have. I agree with Bailey that the frame is the area of concern. Though reasonable welding skills can fix or make just a about anything.
I just invested a significant amount of time and money into my 77 FJ40. I had to do a major rebuild of the rear frame. Its alot nicer now and will make a fine all around street/trail rig ready to take a licking. My rig will never be a pristine example of the species people on e-bay will develop brain damage over. But its fun and it is fun for me to construct it. (note that I dont use the word restoration for my project, to me it is building process) Expect your vision of what you want to change as you learn. Our projects tend to evolve. That is why they are so different.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you dive right in:

1. do you have a good shop to work in or easy access to one?
2. Is there a local expert to help and guide you?
3. How much money will be available for the project? (realisticaly a very good cruiser build up will eventually cost between 10K and 20K).
4. How much time will you be willing to devote? ( regardless of how much money you've got it will require a significant amount of time, the less money the more time required).
5. What do you want to end up with? (a nice trail beater or a museum piece)
From what you described about your rig I would forget about making a museum piece. There is alot of satisfaction to be had saving a nasty, rusty piece of junk from the scrap heap.  :beer:
You can also take the rust as a cue to go the extra mile and build a custom body, click "view all posts" by Fat Kid while viewing his profile and look at the before and after pics of his cruiser body, custom bodies can be quite cool. :)
oh yea a couple of tips for looking at frame rust.
the rear area were the spring hangers attach is the most common frame rust. clean it up and look for swelling in the seams. This area is fairly easy to fix. Look carefully moving forward from the rear at the boxed area of the frame again look for swelling in the seams. If this area is bad you will probably want to look for another frame to work with. :beer:

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