Sark's HZJ73 Adventures

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Feb 20, 2020
New England
Downtime in the winter, so I'm finally getting around to sorting through my pictures and progress on maintaining my 1992 HZJ73 I imported from Japan last summer (2021).

In summary:

Year: 1992
Model: HZJ73V-PEU
Grade: "ZX"
Origin: Japan ("Hey, you're driving on the wrong side!")
Engine: 1HZ
Transmission: "A440F" 4-speed Auto
KM/Miles: ~238,500 KM or ~148,000 miles
Diff-lock: ✓


Some back story...

I was on the hunt for a new vehicle. Coming from an ownership history of 2 sedans, I wanted something I could take anywhere (4WD). I had been getting into camping, hiking, etc. and I'm a bit of an explorer at heart so I wanted something with 4WD that wasn't a Jeep. I didn't even know the 70 series Land Cruiser existed until researching my options a couple years ago, but decided it was the one. The 73 was what I wanted.

Now came the issue of finding one... US apparently was told to go bend itself over when it came to the 70 series, so I needed to either buy one which had already been imported, or do it myself.

Importing a vehicle? Sheesh, I had no idea where to even begin on that front. I did a little research, decided I'd look locally for now.

Found a white HZJ73 which was being sold by a local used car dealer a couple towns over from me. The dealer was trying to get over 30k USD, didn't want to offer any documentation or details on it (I realized they probably didn't really know what they were selling) and it was in mediocre shape. On the plus side, it had something like 40k miles on it.

Driving home, after seeing the coolest thing I'd ever seen, had me grinning from ear to ear, and solidified that I needed to get one for myself. F--- the scummy used car dealer, I'll look for my own.

I reached out to an exporter based in Japan - "JapanCarDirect", and worked with Mathew. Super helpful - I basically told him I had no idea what I was doing but I knew what I wanted. +1 to them.

Skipping the boring importing stuff and oh-so patiently waiting time for it to arrive...


June 16th, 2021, I saw my cruiser in person for the first time!



Even with Long Beach bird droppings, it's still quite the looker!

Now, I just had to drive this across the country to my home in New England...

*spoiler* - it was worth the trip.
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First things first, get this thing road-legal!

As you can tell, the Japanese license plate spacing is different than the US, so I had to tape it to hold it in place :cool:

Familiarized myself with the cruiser, and made my way off the dock... I was going to have to get used to people rubbernecking!

First bit of maintenance came when I realized my oil gauge was reading basically zero. My auto-maintenance was also at basically zero, so this hurts to type out, but I took it over to the local Jiffy-lube type of place in LA and asked if they could add oil for me. No idea where to do so on my own otherwise... The guys there didn't know what the cruiser was, and were surprised when I told them I had quite literally just drove it off the dock :rofl:

Luckily I wasn't going through this experience alone, like a complete idiot. I had scheduled a spa-day for the cruiser over at K&H Imports (not sure if they have a mud account to tag). Armando is the absolute MAN, so I called him up like the tadpole I was and asked what kind of oil I needed to add. Long story short, we were back on the road.

With that concern out of the way, and the rest of the dash gauges not scaring me, both the cruiser and I needed fuel (priorities, man).

So i went to Portillos.

Any Chicagoans heard of this place? 😉


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Had the opportunity to visit my best friend from college while in LA. Went hiking near Santa Monica/Malibu and of course I drove us in the cruiser.



Also picked up a spare that I ordered to a local tire shop, but the spare bracket was still in transit from Japan, so trunk it is!

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After saying goodbye to my friend, I drove up to Canoga Park to say hello to the team at K&H Imports and prep for a morning drop off.

In the meantime, I had all afternoon to explore, so I left the LA streets and headed for the hills!

Horse ranch territory near Kagel Canyon:


And I also went to an offroad park called Rowher Flats:


Also stopped at a fresh fruit stand, this was the best.

Drop off at K&H... They clearly needed a 70-series to show up to complete the lineup :cool: (besides a piggy)


Armando is an absolute legend, and basically gave the cruiser a once over, checking fluid levels, replacing brakes, etc. etc. and making sure it was road-trip ready. Also had a shipment waiting at their shop from @cruiseroutfit. Fresh OME lift kit (plus the brake pads!) ready to go! Thanks Kurt!


Fantastic color combination! Looking forward to seeing what you do with it.
One last thing to add before we left:

Replaced the batteries (2 x 12v) with new batteries.

Now it's time to go. My dad flew out to LA the day before we dropped the cruiser off at K&H to join me on the roadtrip. When he saw the cruiser that I had been working towards importing for the past 6 months or so, he was impressed to say the least :clap:

Our plan was to go from LA to Boston in about 2 weeks. We had some stops in mind, but not everything went to plan.

Day one:

After leaving K&H in the morning, we GTFO of LA and headed towards our first stop: Borrego Springs. For those who don't know, Borrego Springs is basically a big valley near Anza Borrego NP, and it's HOT (for New England standards :)). We passed Ranchita coming from the West, which leads to a winding guard-rail road as you descend into the canyon. The sun had set minutes prior to reaching this area, which in light you would be able to see the whole valley. For us, all we knew is that we were descending along a sketchy road, as the temperature climbed from 60's to upper 90's in the matter of about 15 minutes. We eventually found our way to our cinder-block motel and went to sleep after midnight in over 100 degree fahrenheit temps...

But, we woke up to this:


For breakfast in the springs, go to the Red Ocotillo. One of the best breakfasts of my life, and fresh OJ!
Day 2, Part 1:

Today we left for the Anza Borrego Desert NP. Headed there via the "Great Southern Overland Stage Route of 1849", until we arrived at the Canyon without a name.


First offroading of the trip after LA! Also pretty sure it was the first time ever offroading for my dad. He was nervous :rofl: but I drove this entire trip back to Boston, and we were in good hands ;)

5 picture limit per post, so part 1 ends at Devils Drop-off:

Day 2, part 2:

My dad and I enjoyed the view at the top for a while, as we waited for a crew of trucks to go down first. I got out halfway down, with the cruiser in full tuck, to go take pictures (woes of being the driver and photographer of the trip). He just had the "come back and save me" look on his face for every photo :rofl:





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Day 2, part 4:

These canyons were spectacular. Besides the heat. Wasn't a fan of the ~118F degree weather, but at least there was some shade in the canyons!

Miraculously, we survived the canyons without a hiccup. Drank a hell of a lot of water, though. No heating issues with the cruiser, which was a "good" stress test for that I suppose :rofl:

On our way out of the Anza Borrego Desert:

Our next stop was to visit my grandparents in Arizona. We got all the way to Yuma, AZ before stopping for some Chik-Fil-A.

Here's where we noticed something... The brake lights were staying on after the cruiser was off. My dad went in to order us some food as I continued to investigate. Well, the little black crumbles I noticed in my footwell were the remains of a once rubber stopper-piece that attaches to the brake pedal arm. This had aged over time and turned into something closer to plastic, getting hard and crumbling. My guess is that during the washboarding terrain of Anza Borrego, with the cruiser rattling around, that small piece broke into the three pieces I found in my footwell.

Well, we would have to jury-rig something in the meantime, because it was night and we didn't have any toyota dealers open. Luckily, there was a Home Depot open just down the road.

A packet of small rubber washers and some pipe-tape later, I make a makeshift stopper in the meantime. The trick was getting the thickness correct, so that the lights would be off when the brake pedal was not depressed, but obviously you would want the light to come on when you started depressing it so people knew I was braking.

For the brake pedal stopper, please see this thread I posted back last year:

If the link is broken for some reason one day, the part number is:


Anyways, we took the rest of the night driving to my grandparents in Tucson.
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Day 3:

Spent the day with the grandparents. Drove to Precision Toyota of Tucson to go get the rubber stopper so I could trash the jury-rigged version. Most of the staff there had never seen anything like the cruiser before, so it was getting attention and pictures taken by staff...

Spare tire mount bracket was shipped to my grandparents place as well, since it had arrived in Boston. Mounted the spare...

Day 4, part 1:

Left Tucson and drove north through Phoenix (stopped at another Portillos location), and arrived at Sedona. Unfortunately the surrounding forest to the NW was on fire.
Day 4, part 2:

Because of the fires, the park rangers and local police had closed down a majority of the hiking trails. Disappointing, as that was part of our plan, but we made due. Headed east to Schnebly Hill road. Got a trail in, took some Sedona pictures:





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