it’s refreshing to see an old ride being enjoyed in a new light
This resto-mod Toyota Land Cruiser, owned by Sam Liuson of Wheel Gallery, is a build based on a classic shape, dressed up in newer bits, and featuring subtle nods to both old and new school. Here’s the lowdown: Before last year’s Manila Auto Salon, Sam pretty much knew he wanted to work on an older 4x4 truck. This particular BJ40 was acquired with some of the paint job done and most of the mechanicals in great shape.
The vision for the build of the ‘Fun Cruiser,’ though, didn’t materialize until after the acquisition. Sam got a bit of design help from Jaykee Evangelista (if you’re a long-time reader of our magazine, that name ought to ring a bell). Jaykee is known for his automotive-inspired graphic designs, and he came up with the beautiful paint scheme you see here. It was executed by Car Kreative Technik, as was the sheetmetal work on rusted areas.
Wheel choice, naturally, was an essential consideration given Sam’s line of work. The Black Rhino Armory wheels in Desert Sand are a perfect pairing to the truck’s aesthetics. Reminiscent of Dakar Rally truck wheels, they sport center hub caps that hide the actual wheel lugs. Mock outer lugs give the impression that the vehicle is wearing full-size truck hubs. The 31in Saffiro MaxTrac A/T tires provide just the right amount of visual aggression to balance old and new.
Mechanically, this 1983 model is mostly period-correct. The stock 3B diesel engine was not touched, and only visually refreshed with a coat of gray paint. It still uses the original fourspeed manual transmission and four-wheeldrive system. The truck sports a 2in lift, too, with Bilstein shocks on each corner to keep it properly planted.
Interior mods are simple and subtle. According to Sam, the most challenging part of the build was completing the switches. Fortunately, he had a friend who helped hunt those down in Japan. The cockpit retains its original gauge cluster, sitting just ahead of the original steering wheel. Looking closer at the left side of the wheel, though, you’ll notice the two PIAA switches for the foglamp units (halogens in front and LEDs on top). Other resto-mod touches include the replacement of the front seats with a bench unit from an 80-series Land Cruiser, as well as floor and panel protection courtesy of the Line-X spray-on liner. Behind the front seats and on the floor, you’ll find a curious but classy custom pinewood floor.
Exterior details include custom rear flares designed by Sam, a rear gas can, a high-lift jack just outside the passenger seat, and a shovel on the top roll bar, held there by a Rhino-Rack shovel holder. There’s also a winch up front, courtesy of Aussie brand Come Up, and JAOS mudguards to keep splashing to a minimum. And, while it’s not a modification, the fact that you can fold down the windshield makes the car look like it’s a ton of fun to drive. Of course, there’s also the beautiful, graphic paint scheme that helps set this build apart, with its subtle grays here and there, plus pops of orange in the right places.
Future plans include a digital gauge cluster from The FJ Company, a period-correct sound system, and a proper top to help deal with Philippine weather. But even at this point, Sam already knows he has built something he truly likes. The simplicity of the vehicle itself is a reminder of simpler times, and he likens the experience of driving it to a child riding a bike. Because what could be purer and more fun than driving a classic machine without a care in the world? Not much, really.
‘The simplicity of this ride is a reminder of older times’
Beige, gray, black, and orange give it a unique visual pop