1969 Toyota FJ40 – Project Profile

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By Chris Pollitt

Classic cars don’t have to be all shiny, bright and protected by a thick coat of wax. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that, if that’s your thing. However, if you want your classic to be a bit more rugged and rough around the edges, there are plenty out there to satisfy your desire. You could of course go down the tried and tested route of a classic Land Rover. And why not? They’re great off-road, they’re no more complicated than a cheese sandwich and the parts support for them is excellent, meaning you can re-build, modify and restore to your heart’s content. 

Of course, if you do buy a Land Rover, you’ll become one of the many, many people who also own one. Now, there is nothing wrong with owning a car that many others also own. It’s nice to feel like a part of something. But still, what if you want to break free, what if you want a rugged classic that’s capable but that is also nothing like the others. Well, you need a Toyota FJ40, don’t you? More rugged than a rugged thing. 

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What is it? 

What we have here is a 1969 Toyota FJ40, which in essence is the early version of the Land Cruiser model, which as we all know, is a capable machine. This particular FJ40 is, as the F would suggest, a petrol model. Fitted with the original 3.9 straight-six, it packs 125hp and 209lb ft. More than enough to get you up, over or around most obstacles. And of course, this is mated to a manual transmission and a beefy four-wheel drive system. 

This particular FJ40 hails from Nevada, meaning it is in remarkably solid condition. This seller is known for finding good, solid, rust-free vehicles from the States, and this Toyota is no exception. It seems to be all there, it fires up on the key and it runs, drives and stops. 

The vendor explains that the body is solid, even in the back sections, as is the chassis and suspension. The FJ40 comes with a whole host of spare parts, too. Though the buyer will need to sort through them to find out exactly what’s there. 

As you can see, there have been some modifications. The doors are different from stock, the wheels are aftermarket and those bumpers are definitely not Toyota standard kit. And while we can’t confirm, it does look to have had the suspension lifted for better off-road ground clearance. 

Why is it a project? 

It needs some love, but it appears to all be there, it’s running and it’s in remarkably rust-free condition, which is a rare thing for an off-roader of this vintage. The last owner spent a great deal of money on it apparently, and as such, it’s now just a case of sorting the aesthetics, as the mechanicals and the structure seem to be good to go. 

It needs paint, that’s clear. The matte black finish currently in situ isn’t really showing the FJ40 off to its full potential. And while the doors are functional, they don’t really work with the lines of the old Toyota, so they’d need to go really. As would the chequer-plate trims on the side and the awful alloy wheels. 

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The interior needs some attention. It’s all solid, but needs retrimming and tidying up, as does the dash. The glass is good though, and even new in places. Oh, and there doesn’t seem to be any mention of a roof, so if you’re planning off-season use, you might want to look at that, too! 

At its core though, it’s a solid, running, ready to roll FJ40. To find one in this condition here in the UK is a very rare thing indeed. If you’ve been fancying one of these for some time, now is the time to pounce. 

Five things to look for:

1) Chassis

Looking solid and actually being solid are two very different things. The good thing is that this seller is known for bringing over solid cars, but still check for yourself. Just to be 100% sure there is nothing serious hiding. 

2) Electrics 

What dry state cars have in solidity, they lack in electrical soundness. The heat makes wiring brittle and dry, and as such it can break, it can short and it can fail. It can also be a fire risk, so well worth checking. 

3) Engine

The seller says the FJ40 runs, but how well? Check it for any noises, any tapping or knocking, check for leaks and check the fluids and so on. Service parts are easy to find, but it’s better to know the condition first, than discover horrors later.

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4) Body 

The body looks to be arrow-straight and free from any serious corrosion, which is nothing but a good thing. But still, get up close, make sure there is no filler hiding behind the scenes. Make sure it’s as solid as it looks. 

5) Modifications 

There are some interesting mods on display here. The awful wheels, the bumpers, the chequer-plate. Modifying is fine, but only if it’s done well. So have a look at what’s been done and make sure – if you’re keeping it – it has been done well. 

What should you do with it? 

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The Toyota FJ40 is a rare thing these days, and as such, we would be inclined to move the look of this one back towards being a bit more original. Not mint though, as that would make it too much of an intimidating project to use properly. And this beast should be used properly. Up to its hubs in mud, tackling the road less travelled, winching up steep hills, this should be doing it all. Fit some proper off-road wheels and tyres, give the suspension an overhaul, fit a roll bar, some spot lights, a winch and some period bucket style seats and you should be set. This could be the perfect adventure vehicle with a bit of vision.

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