Classic Toyota FJ Land Cruisers have a strong following among automotive collectors. Their durable design and iconic shape have made them prime candidates for restoration. Now, some wish to go a step further — to modernize one of the best off-road vehicles ever built.
The FJ Company is one such outfit, specializing in 1960s, ‘70s, and ‘80s Land Cruisers (FJ20, FJ40, and FJ60 series models). Once the FJ Company acquires a donor car, it sets about transforming it into a customized, reliable work of vehicular art.
This year, the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) invited the FJ Company to strut its stuff and instead of displaying one of its more traditional Cruisers, the specialty shop went to work on the “Aspen Project.”
What began life as a 1982 Toyota FJ43 Land Cruiser has become a tailor-made beauty. FJ Company President Juan Diego Calle asked for a “purpose-built, family-friendly beast that could take on the rigors of everyday highway driving as well as the back-country near Aspen, Colorado.” What we see here goes just a tad beyond those loose specs.
The build started by removing the FJ’s frame, tweaking the car’s power steering, front disc brakes, and climate controls, then addressing the powertrain. Toyota’s 1FZ engine, a 4.5-liter inline six-cylinder with electronic fuel injection, serves up 210 horsepower in this configuration. That is paired with a five-speed manual transmission for optimal off-road responsiveness.
A passing glance would overlook the trail-ready equipment on this FJ because the original Land Cruiser exterior remains mostly unchanged. In addition to a matte white paint job, the FJ Company added a Warn 8274 winch on the original front bumper, flanked by a pair of seven-inch LED fog lights. Most importantly, a custom roll cage was engineered to keep all occupants safe — especially since the back half of the rig is only covered in canvas.
Inside, the Aspen Project gets Recaro Speed seats, trimmed in the same marine-grade material as the door panels and fold-down rear seats. The floor is also coated in Rhino Linings bed liner for all-weather protection. As convenience features go, there is a digital instrument cluster — which some luxury cars do not even have — LED interior lighting, and a premium sound system with Bluetooth.
As a one-off build, the Aspen Project FJ has already been sold (price unknown), but we wager if you have a healthy bank account, the FJ Company will design any Land Cruiser you fancy.
- The best off-road vehicles for 2021
- The best camper vans
- AWD vs. 4WD
- The best Top Gear episodes of all time
- The best road trip cars for 2021