FUN CRUISER

it’s re­fresh­ing to see an old ride be­ing en­joyed in a new light

Top Gear (Philippines) - - The Garage -

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

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