The Six Million Dollar Land Cruiser: Faster…Stronger…Better

I know, you’re sitting there trying to figure out a) what on earth I did to spend $6M fixing up a 32-year old SUV and b) how stupid must I be to have done so. Let’s be realistic, there is no version of math that exists in this universe that can be done to make this be a six million dollar car, but how could we resist a reference to an awesomely entertaining display of 1970s action at its cheesiest. While we didn’t spend a ridiculous amount of money, we have spent a better part of the last year rebuilding a 1985 Toyota Landcruiser FJ60 that has been in my family since it was purchased new by my father at Beaman Toyota in Nashville, Tennessee for the bargain price of $13,370.69, and was also my first car. Below is a detailed list of what we did to take our sometimes running FJ60 with more than 380,000 miles on the odometer and make it the newest and coolest (at least in my opinion) member of the Tin Sheets Fleet.

1. Suspension: When we took this guy in to figure out what to do, this item was on the top of the list as all of the bushings had rotted out, the springs were shot, the shocks were not shocks any more, and it was basically a bouncy, hard to steer, driving death trap. That is if you could get it to start.  So we went and got ourselves a new suspension.  We opted for the following:
– Overhaul steering knuckles
– New rotors and pads up front
– New leaf springs
– New bushings
– New Old Man Emu suspension with a 2.5 inch lift!
– New BFG AT KO2 Tires
– New hubs

2. Motor: The original 2F (motor) was given a nice new lease on life.  Upon inspection, our manhandled engine needed some work. My favorite line from our initial inspection was “Symptom: ENGINE WON’T START OR CRANK. ADVISE REPAIRS, HAS NASTY ROD KNOCK !!!”. So we had more than a few mechanical issues. Here is what we did to fix them:
– Pulled and rebuild to spec the full 2F
– Replace full timing set
– Resize all rods
– Polish and machine crankshaft
– Hang new pistons
– Resurface the block
– Bore and hone block
– Install new cam bearing
– Resurface all valves and machine valve seats
– New water pump on reassembly
– Pulled and replaced the factory 4-speed transmission with a new H55 5-speed transmission
– Removed and resurfaced the flywheel
– Replaced clutch bearing
– Overhauled transfer case assembly
– New exhaust and muffler
– New power steering pump
– Removed air injection system

3. Interior: We may or may not have had a small family of rodents living in the Land Cruiser as it was parked in the vineyard for 10 years, which may or may not have contributed to some seat degradation. Additionally, the seat adjustment for the driver’s seat was broken, so the back rest wouldn’t do anything other than fold all the way back to the rear seat- my dad being the ever practical one, had it welded in place…for him as a 6′ 10″ driver. I’m tall, but that wasn’t going to work for me, much less anyone else. To remedy these issues and make the car actually drivable we again took action.
– Installed new Corbeau Seats and seat heaters (I mean, why not?)
– Installed a dash cover
– Fully detailed the interior

4. Options: At this point we had a very nice and comfortable Toyota that ran dependably, could (actually!) achieve highway speed, not burn quarts and quarts of oil, achieve better than 10 MPG, and basically be a reliable car again. Since our return from the big trip, we started planning some other adventures and talked about wanting to take some trips in the Land Cruiser, which suddenly got me excited about adding a few more things for our comfort, waistlines, and off-road survivability.
– Installed a decent stereo with Sirius XM- Seriously, what goes better with driving Route 66 than jamming out to the ’40s station
– Installed rock sliders- Nothing is worse than falling on a rock and getting stuck
– Installed an ARB bull bar and winch- No deer, no getting stuck
– Hard wired an ARB electrical port to the back for a fridge- Cooking on the road is easy if you have food
– Swapped the old sealed beam headlights for some fancy projection HID light- We can see at night now, thanks to Dapper Lighting
– Installed an iPad Mini- We had an old one, so we figured why go for an expensive car play stereo when we can install an iPad- maps, music, Yelp- no car infotainment system can beat an iPad with the right apps
– Tuffy Console
– Sound Insulation- I went for good old Dynamat
– FJ62 Mirrors- Have you seen the FJ60 mirrors? Probably not, blink and you’ll miss them

So far this covers the work we have done. I have a few little things to do before we hit the road which will hopefully be done in the next couple of weeks as we have a pilot trip to Joshua Tree next month. All that remains is to tint out the windows and get a Tin Sheets Logo applied to the back window, then we are 100% done and ready to hit the road!