Back to Reader's Rides Page

Scott Havis

Scott Havis: '65 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ-40

Pink FJ-40My FJ-40 came to my possession a few years ago after I realized my 'wheeling was risking my daily driver; a bone stock '86 Bronco. The budget consisted of my measly tax refund check. So...for the paltry sum of $500.00 I took home a Pink 1965 Land Cruiser without a running engine, but with Boss Hog-esque longhorns bolted to the hood. Too bad my wife removed them before I could get the camera. Oh well.

This began a year long frame-off rebuild that took the pink thing and turned it into a beautiful dark green, mostly stock Land Cruiser. I threw out the old engine and tranny and swapped in a small block Chevy and an SM420 tranny. I found some used 33" Buckshots to tie everything to the ground. Then it was time to test it out.

FJ-40The first trail run was a pre-run to Spring Thing II, the spring quarterly for the SWFWDA, and then back for the real deal the following weekend.

That was how it began, and here is how it changed. Labor day weekend of '95, a friend and I took off to wheel in Poteau, Oklahoma. This was real four-wheeling. I had never seen THIS before! Well, into the second day, going down the back side of Cavenaugh Hill, the 'Cruiser and I took a 3 and a half roll down a hill. We tipped the 'Cruiser back over and winched to a level spot to survey the damage. The engine started right back up, brakes O.K., steering good. Body munched. Those rocks are very unforgiving. The roll bar, a single hoop, kept me alive, but was bent some in the process. Now the 'Cruiser is a trail truck with scars to prove it. We went on to finish the day.

FJ-40Having seen those awesome trails, I had to fix up my truck to traverse them. I needed more travel and bigger tires. So, from then until now I have, little by little, built quite a capable trail rig, though there is still much more on the 'List'. The lift is provided by a spring-over conversion with the tubes cut to maintain proper steering geometry. The rear springs were replaced by FJ-60 fronts with a leaf removed. The front also had a leaf removed. This lengthened the wheelbase by 4". The steering goes through a Saginaw box and a custom raised steering arm, eliminating bump steer and removing the hoaky Z-shaped relay rod. Traction is full time with welded spiders in the rear and an E-Z Locker up front turning 35x14.5 Boggers on MRT rims with bead locks. To stop, there are 4 wheel disc brakes.

FJ-40Other neat stuff includes York air, enough to run any air tool, Griffin aluminum radiator, axle control via 3-link in the rear, a nice roll cage, and many spare parts. I'm sure I'm forgetting something, but most mods are here.

I am currently building the bracketry for a coil spring set up. This should be complete by Spring '99 sometime. I'm sure I'll spent a lot of time working the bugs out of that!

Most of my trail running is at Ft. Hood, Clayton, Poteau, and any other place within a 12 hour drive. of Houston, TX. See you on the trail! Be safe.


Find out more about Scott's FJ-40 here!



Back to the Features Page

©1997-2010 ROCKCRAWLER 4x4 and Off-Road Magazine. All Rights Reserved.