Restore it, kinda restore it, or just drive it?

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

Mar 30, 2007
This is a follow-up to a previous post that I did. I acquired a 81' FJ40 and want something to drive in our states off-road park. This seems like it would be a great machine for it. But, it's rusty. The frame looks ok, but the floor, the fenders, and various things underneath are not so good. It starts and goes quite well, we drove it 80 miles yesterday to get it to my garage.

I know it's tough to see from the pictures, but what would be a good idea to do with it? Just drive it till it dies, do some minor stuff like engine tune up, clutch, etc.. Or, would it be a good restoration project?



Last edited:
I'm a resto guy. That said, it's extremely expensive, difficult, and time consuming to do a resto on a late model post 78 truck. Assuming the front and rear floors are rusted (they undoubtedly are), that means the body mounts are compromised. That means your life and that of your family are sitting attached to the frame witha a few bits of rust. Late trucks with rusted floors aren't safe, period, in case of an accident. If you're gonna keep it, restore it. If not, part or sell it to someone who understands what it takes to make it right and will do so. Not trying to be mr. safety here, but after restoring primarily post 78 trucks for a number of years, I know what a tough road you have ahead. Good luck!
I guess what I'm asking is.. Is there a point where the FJ is too far gone to restore? This would not be my first restore, but it would be my first FJ restore. Just seems like allot of fun.

Price wise, what would I be looking at?
After looking at your body, I would suggest you have an "FJ familiar mechanic" look over the frame. I'd be really surprised if your truck has frame in it that doesn't need lots of work.
Agreed, especially for offroad, you want a good frame for safety. Start with the basics which would be the frame. Sheet metal is easier. If it has a good motor would it be better to put into a non-running cruiser in better shape? Judgement decision. Mine, my dad bought new so has family values. The '78, cut and run...
There's always new bodies available. I would turn it into a wheeler at this point. If you really want the resto, start saving.
Based upon all the cancer associated with your rig, you're better off using it as a trail driver. If you want to restore a FJ, you should try to find one that has a little less rust.

There are lots out there with little to no rust, you just have to look around.

You'll spend more for the unrusted version, but the costs associated with replacing the tub and fenders on a rusted truck will far exceed the initial capital outlay of the unrusted version.

Even when you find the unrusted version, costs are outrageous to restore a vehicle. If I were to do it agian, I wouldn't have modrestored mine. Should have just drove it and wheeled it. Lesson learned for me.
Don't jump into a full-blown project a week after you get it. Take your time.

Anything you do will be expensive. Take the first couple of months to get familiar with it, fix minor stuff to make it more reliable and safe. Then decide what you want to do.

Good Luck

The original intent was to wheel it and beat whatever piss is left out of it.

It looks like I will just replace the few minor things that need attention, rear brakes, clutch, battery, and give it a tune up. I will likely have to drop in some rear body panels, rear bumber, and floor pans, all of which I will fab out of sheet metal.

Users who are viewing this thread

Top Bottom