This is the one they tell me I should NEVER sell. I picked up this 50-year-old FJ in Lyons, Colorado two years ago from the original owner. The father purchased it brand new in Boulder, Colorado for $3,888.90 and later sold it to his adult son. The father, a scientist at the University of Colorado, kept meticulous records on the vehicle. Everything from the original dealer invoice, to gas mileage and performance, to small, medium, and large-size repairs. There are even notes on accuracy on the speedometer and old newspaper clippings about Toyota quality and how things are manufactured in Japan.
The son had hopes of restoring it in retirement (he’s in his 60s), but after sinking over $8,000 into the FJ including an engine rebuild, brakes, carb rebuild, clutch and more (see list below), his plans changed and he decided it was time, after 48 years belonging to the same family, to let this vehicle he’d known since he was a kid, move on.
I asked the son to give me a tour of the FJ when I bought it. We walked around the vehicle and he pointed out different things. A few things caught my attention right away. The first was when I opened up the rear tire swing out. I noticed there was something etched into the metal on the barn door. It read “Chain… 1. Hook rear right…” It was instructions on how to install the snow chains. I asked the guy, “What’s this?” and he replied, “My Dad had this Dremel tool. He loved that Dremel.” I guess so. As we circled the vehicle, I noticed the original owner’s handwriting all over the car. He literally left his mark on his vehicle he most certainly loved and cherished. The original Toyota gas cap has “Toyota” etched into it. The rear swing up hatch has “rock, open” etched as a tip for opening the back. His boy scout hatchet in the tool box has his name and “Boulder, Colorado” etched into it. The metal matchbox canister says “Matches” on the bottom. He even wrote all the capacities for oil, coolant, etc, on the inside of the glove box door. Look closely at the pics. You’ll see his mark in other places, too.
The son shared stories of taking the Cruiser into the Colorado Rockies. They had a “one wheeled trailer” that they would use (the mounts are still on the bumperettes). I asked about the “Fender” bumper sticker on the left bumperette and he said, “I put that on there. I thought it was cool, you know. A Fender on a fender.” Hilarious. I later found a Ramones button in the glove box that I assume was his.
Sometime in the life of the Cruiser they added a Meyer snow plow and used it to plow their driveway. I had that professionally removed. There are no tell-tale signs of any issues from it being used as a plow. It drives straight down the road and I can’t see any issues with the frame.
The father added performance upgrades in the late 1960s, which back then meant going with dual Offenhauser carbs and an Offenhauser manifold. He also converted the three on the tree to the floor. He added a few other little things, as well, including a tilt gauge and hazard switch. Other things are definitely factory, like the original Fujitsu Ten AM Radio, complete with the original knobs.
I loaded up the Cruiser on my trailer, brought it home, and cleaned it out. That’s when I realized just how special this FJ is. I looked through everything the son gave me to go with the FJ and here’s what I uncovered:
- The original dealer invoice from 1969 for $3,888.90. I framed it, along with the original Colorado Registration papers. That goes with the vehicle.
- Original Toyota Dealer Sales, Parts, Service & Accessories brochure with pricing on all their vehicles in 1967. Only $3,095 for an FJ45!
- Complete tool roll with owners manual. Most of the tools look unused. One of the nicest sets I’ve ever seen. Even has the little kit for adjusting the carb.
- Boy scout tools including a saw, hatchet, match box, and other vintage items (jumper cables, flares packed in a copper tube, bottle opener, and more)
- I literally have ALL (and I mean ALL) of the service records and registration paperwork. It includes notes from the original owner and the bill of sale for when the the father “sold” it to the son in the 90s for $100.
- Custom dual-roll cage (great place to add speakers)
- Factory lap belts plus the owner installed his own early version of a shoulder belts
- About a dozen original TEQ ignition and door keys
- Original bottle jack jack crank handle, and jack rods
- Original gas tank is there, but the original owner had an aux tank added, and that’s the tank that is currently hooked up.
The seats were pretty rough, so I had those reupholstered along with new foam. They’re nice and tight. The water pump needed replacement, so I took care of that, too. I kept the original Toyota one, which goes with the FJ.
I’ve had it in the garage the last two years awaiting a restoration. I’ve driven it nearly every weekend, about 5 miles down to Home Depot and back. The longest trip I took was up to Woodland Park, Colorado and back. About a 100 mile trip over the course of four hours. The Cruiser ran great.
I really don’t want to let this Cruiser go (and I’ve been lectured by many a Cruiser friend not to sell it), but I really need a new truck for finding and hauling other Cruisers out of distant Colorado mountain towns, and sadly, I must let her go. Technically this is a “2 owner” Cruiser, but I have a hard time counting myself as an owner as the point was to restore it and pass it along to it’s rightful “2nd owner”.
- New water pump $150 @ 75,550
- Oil change $50 @ 75,450
- Carbs rebuilt, tune up, wheel cylinders, brake shoes, new side mirrors and mirror arm – $2,596 @ 75,036
- Used fuel pump, timing cover gasket, valve cover gasket, rear main seal, rocker arm assembly, head gasket, rebuild cylinder head, new coolant, intake manifold gasket, push rod cover gasket, oil pan gasket, radiator cap, reseal transfer case, R&R side cover, R&R cylinder head – $4,845 @ 74,968
- Skyjacker lift kit – $2,154 @ 68,815
- Center Arm Rebuild, new brake master, front axle rebuild, brakes, alignment, new bell crank assembly, tie rods, timing, defroster duct hose – $1,937 @ 68,783
- New clutch, e-brake shoes, gaskets – $1,796 @ 67,988
Most Cruisers that are 50 years old and unrestored will have a few issues. Here’s what I know about this one:
- Rust. Yep, it has it. But that’s the original paint you’re looking at (and a beautiful patina). It’s a Colorado LC, so it’s lived in a dry climate, but rust (like most FJs) has begun to claim the corners, sill, and wheel wells. That said, the rest of the truck is solid. The front floor boards and everything in front of that is in great shape. A good body guy can replace those rusted out parts and make it look brand new.
- Blinkers work, but the indicator lights inside the cab that are on the left and the right of the speedo do not light up.
- 4WD works great, but the indicator light is not working or burned out
- Radio light comes on, but it is not hooked up to speakers. Unsure of it’s status.
- The t-case is leaking. Not sure which seals need replaced, but it spots a bit.
- Hazard switch does not work
- There appears to be a throttle cable, but it’s stuck in place
- AMP gauge appears to be off mid 70s FJ40 (easy to source a period-specific one)
- Tires are old, would advise replacing
- Not the original rims, but it does come with a set of 5 original FJ40 rims/wheels