Chev V8-pow­ered Cruiser is a neat mix of old and new.


AMONG the hun­dreds of Toy­ota 4x4s in at­ten­dance at the an­nual FJ Sum­mit in Ou­ray, Colorado, there was one Land Cruiser that re­ally grabbed our at­ten­tion. The FJ Sum­mit is pri­mar­ily an event for the FJ Cruiser crowd, but this old-school FJ45 stood out among the late-model wannabes. As we were check­ing it out in the street, we got to talk­ing with its owner, Tim Mcgrath. Tim hails from Al­bu­querque, New Mex­ico, from where he runs a busi­ness called Sack­wear (www.sack­ that de­signs and sells T-shirts, patches and other cool 4x4 re­lated gear. Like every­one else in Ou­ray that week­end, Tim was there for the FJ Sum­mit as part of his trav­els in his su­per-cool FJ.

Tim and his wife Jen­nifer have chil­dren, and their old FJ40 shorty was get­ting too small for their needs. They also had what Tim calls an FJ45 Pick-up (what we’d call a ute) and a plan was hatched to cre­ate a more fam­ily-friendly four­bie.

When you see the de­signs at Sack­wear, you’ll see that Tim has some tal­ent with a pen­cil. He penned a con­cept sketch and took it to Don Hay­wood at Wolf Creek Rod Works in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, to turn his ideas into re­al­ity.


Tim says the re­made 45 is a Troopy, as it takes its style from the ven­er­a­ble Toy­ota Troop Car­rier, but it dif­fers from the norm with its cus­tom body­work and soft top. The cab and pick-up bed from the FJ45 were sold and a 1966 FJ40 was sourced as a donor ve­hi­cle for the new project. It was cut be­hind the door pil­lars, re­tain­ing the for­ward por­tion, and a new rear sec­tion was cus­tom-fab­ri­cated by PACOL, a Florida com­pany that spe­cialises in vin­tage Land Cruiser body pan­els. The body was re­mounted to a re­fur­bished FJ45 chas­sis and com­pleted with NOS front ’guards and the re­main­ing pan­els from the orig­i­nal 45. When com­pleted, the body was painted in a metal­lic grey taken from the Porsche pal­ette, while the soft top is a cus­tom-made piece from TLC 4x4, the same com­pany be­hind the ICON 4x4 ve­hi­cles. The chas­sis re­furb in­cluded the orig­i­nal dif­fer­en­tials be­ing re­built with ARB Air Lock­ers and 4.11:1 gears, with disc brake con­ver­sions both front and rear. The axles are slung un­der Al­can leaf spring packs with Bil­stein 7100 shocks, while the wheels are Walker Evans Rac­ing al­loys with 37-inch BF Goodrich Krawlers bead-locked to them.

No old Toy­ota six-cylin­der en­gine was go­ing to turn those big tyres, so a small-block Chevy en­gine was the log­i­cal in­stall, and a rel­a­tively stock Ram Jet EFI 350 was fit­ted. The V8 is backed by an NV4500 five-speed man­ual trans­mis­sion and an Ad­vanced Adapters Orion ‘twin­stick’ trans­fer case fit­ted with a 4:1 low range gear set. Tom Wood’s drive­shafts feed the drive to the axles. In­side this Land Cruiser is a mix of new tools with old-school charm. The rear sec­tion of the body was made with a flat floor, al­low­ing Tim to fit a Master­craft bench seat to match the buck­ets up the front. All the seats fea­ture five-point har­nesses, also from Master­craft, while fur­ther pro­tec­tion comes from a roll-cage by Metal Tech of Ore­gon. Up front, the dash con­tin­ues the mix of old and new. The metal dash panel is re­tained, but the gauges have been re­placed with Au­tome­ter units. Myr­iad switches are mounted be­low the dash and a mas­sive Lowrance GPS unit. An af­ter­mar­ket air-con­di­tion­ing and heat­ing unit keeps the cabin cool re­gard­less of whether the Cruiser is in the Colorado Alps or the New Mex­ico desert. Mod­ern touches are few on the out­side, but

in­clude plenty of LED lights. The rock lights are from Vi­sion X, Baja De­signs supplied the back-up lights, and fit­ted to a Han­son Of­froad front bumper are a pair of Hella Xenons and flood­lights from Rigid In­dus­tries.

Mounted in­side that bumper is a Warn 9.5t winch fit­ted with synth’ rope and a Fac­tor 55 Pro Link. The rear bar comes from 4Plus Prod­ucts and in­cludes the tyre car­rier which mounts an­other mas­sive BFG, a set of Maxtrax and some Jerry cans.

With prices of the FJ40 and 45 Cruiser go­ing through the roof in the USA, there would be plenty of purists who might scowl at Tim and Jen­nifer’s ‘Resto­mod’ Troopy be­cause it wasn’t re­stored to orig­i­nal con­di­tion. That doesn’t bother the Mc­graths, and the ve­hi­cle has taken them all over the USA and caught the eye of fans on the way.

“We have gone to Colorado, the San Juan Moun­tains area two or three times a year, and to the Over­land Expo in Ari­zona” said Tim. “These have all been fam­ily trips, along with our two kids – ten and eight years old. It’s a tight fit but one heck of an ad­ven­ture.”

With that tight fit in mind, Tim is plan­ning to build a stor­age sys­tem for the rear of the Troopy to bet­ter carry cargo. Other changes in­clude adding some skid plates to pro­tect the un­der­side, and fab­ri­cat­ing an air­box to con­nect with the snorkel that is fit­ted.

With clas­sic old looks and ca­pa­ble V8 driv­e­train, this FJ has plenty of life left in it yet.


Han­son Of­froad bumper houses a Warn 9.5t winch and Rigid In­dus­tries LED flood­lights.

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