If this '64 FJ-40 blew by the average four-wheel admirer at 75 mph, he might think it's just another clean resto-rig heading off on an adventure. But beauty is more than skin-deep. We run across these little sleepers every now and then-great little trail machines ever so tenderly brought back to life by their owners and filled with the best parts. Usually these 4x4s have been in the family for years. Some collect dust in the garage for long periods of time, and others are driven in the same condition they were when they rolled off the assembly line. And then one day the vehicle gets stripped to the frame and rebuilt into an incredible four-wheel trail machine.
This capable 'Cruiser belongs to Todd and Debbie Meese of Yucca Valley, California. It was a hand-me-down from Todd's father Joe, and it is our kind of cast-off vehicle, truly a gift that keeps on giving. Joe bought the Land Cruiser from the original owner in 1973, and Todd took possession in 1985 when Joe bought another FJ-40. The family drove the Toyota around in bone-stock condition for 20 years while they collected parts for the big overhaul. Eventually Todd and son Ryan tore the rig down, stripped every single part to bare metal, replaced and reconditioned everything, and then repainted it. The ground-up rebuild took three months of late nights and weekends-cutting, grinding, welding, and wrenching. Pop's toy was finally finished, and this classic Cruiser now roams the high-desert and mountain trails of Southern California.
The front is fitted with a Dana 44 axle that was narrowed 10 inches. A Detroit Locker with 4.10 gears and Currie Enterprises chromoly axles were installed for traction and dependability. Tuff Country 4-inch-lift leaf springs were used in the spring-over-axle conversion. Steering is comprised of a Saginaw box with custom high-steer arms and knuckles built by Todd and Ryan. A 1.25x0.250-wall DOM tube tie rod and a drag link were also added. Out back a Ford 9-inch axle with a Detroit Locker, Yukon axles, and 4.11 gears was built using Lincoln disc brakes to help stop the high-powered Toy. The rear suspension is a conglomeration of old-school, spring-under technology using Dodge Power Wagon leaf springs and custom spring hangers.
The factory 125hp inline-six engine didn't cut it in the power and torque department, so T
Simplicity is always best when it comes to dependable trail rigs. Less clutter and the rig
The frame of Meese's FJ-40 was cut and stretched 3 inches. The rear axle was moved back 8
1964 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ-40
Engine: Chevy 383ci V-8
Transfer case: NP205
Front Axle: Dana 44
Rear Axle: Ford 9-inch
Springs & Such (f/r): Custom spring-over with 4-inch Tuff Country leaf springs, Rancho RS 9000 shocks/'73 Dodge Power Wagon leaf springs, custom hangers, Rancho RS 5000 shocks
Tires & Wheels: Pro Comp 35x12.50x15 M/Ts on 15x8 Enkeis
Steering: Saginaw steering box, custom high-steer arms and knuckles
Other Stuff: Chevy pickup tilt steering column, custom tube bumpers, spare-tire carrier, six-point cage, Meese Welding winch mount and skidplate, Derale 650-cfm trans cooler, PE8000 MileMarker winch, Auto Meter gauges, Recarro seats