Old School

This is a a very rare Land Cruiser FJ45.

Top Gear (Philippines) - - Contents - WORDS AND PHO­TOG­RA­PHY BY IAN MAG­BANUA

Once left to rot in a garage, this rare ma­chine now owns the shows and the roads

As an ex-rally driver and nav­i­ga­tor, Egai Or­tiz Luis is no stranger to cars. The owner of Shelby Auto Sta­tion, a restora­tion shop in Mey­cauayan, Bu­la­can, he is an ex­pe­ri­enced cus­to­dian of skill­fully re­vived ve­hi­cles. This is his lat­est pride and joy: a pe­riod-cor­rect Land Cruiser that he and his son have re­stored.

It all started with a for­tu­itous trip to Pam­panga. Af­ter a quick meal at a non­de­script road­side eatery, Egai walked around the neigh­bor­hood to see if he could chance upon any barn finds. He found this Land Cruiser tucked away in a garage and im­me­di­ately made his move. Ini­tial at­tempts to buy the truck didn’t go very well, but af­ter seven months of call­ing the owner every week, he was fi­nally able to make the pur­chase.

It has to be said that this short-wheel­base FJ45 pickup from 1965 is one of the rarest Land Cruis­ers—if not one of the rarest Toy­otas— ever pro­duced. The short-wheel­base trucks were around for only a cou­ple of years, and ac­cord­ing to Egai, only 2,000 were pro­duced for the US mar­ket. What we have here is a true gem among vin­tage Land Cruis­ers. As Egai puts it, you may have all the re­sources to re­store an old-school Land Cruiser, but to have an ac­tual spec­i­men of an ex­tremely rare model? That’s a com­pletely dif­fer­ent story.

The restora­tion of the truck took about three years to com­plete, but dur­ing the first two months, Egai pri­or­i­tized sort­ing out all the me­chan­i­cal bits. Hav­ing lost its orig­i­nal en­gine, the truck packed an Isuzu diesel en­gine and driv­e­train. These non-Toy­ota items were the first to go; they were re­placed with the cor­rect parts from a donor truck, a 1969 Land Cruiser.

The 2.4-liter 2F sin­gle-carb straight-six puts out around 135hp and is mated to a low-gear, floor-mounted four-speed gear­box (ear­lier mod­els had col­umn shifters). The en­gine was re­built from the in­side out and was fin­ished with some nice paint and chrome de­tail­ing. The driv­e­train and the brakes were al­ready set up well be­fore the truck was sent in for panel restora­tion and paint­ing. The beau­ti­ful Sa­hara Tan hue is a pe­riod- and model-cor­rect color—it is

des­ig­nated on the orig­i­nal se­rial-num­ber plate.

There is an abun­dance of Land Cruiser restora­tion parts avail­able glob­ally, with com­pa­nies like Cool Cruis­ers and Specter Off-Road stock­ing new, old-stock, or re­pro­duc­tion items. Egai had the means to pro­cure these, mak­ing the restora­tion process eas­ier. Things like switches and sig­nal-light as­sem­blies can be had as re­pro­duc­tions, but there are also some sweet orig­i­nal pieces on the car—for in­stance, he won the gauge clus­ter, the switch in­ter­nals, and the steer­ing wheel from an eBay bid. Other no­table items in­clude an orig­i­nal Land Cruiser tool­box, a hard-to-find owner’s man­ual, and a set of Goodyear Hi-Miler tires.

Asked about his orig­i­nal ob­jec­tives for this build, Egai men­tions that he was re­ally af­ter a full pe­riod-cor­rect restora­tion, with the goal of en­ter­ing the truck into shows. Both this FJ45 and its own­ers are lucky: Egai and his son for find­ing and restor­ing a rare ma­chine, and the Land Cruiser for end­ing up with an amaz­ing au­to­mo­tive re­storer hell-bent on giv­ing it a proper re­birth.

Since its show-cir­cuit de­but, it has won a num­ber of Best of Show tro­phies, the most no­table of which is the Best of Show honors at the 2017 Manila In­ter­na­tional Auto Show. Since then, it has been up­graded with power steer­ing from a later model, a cus­tom air-con­di­tion­ing setup, some up­rated Ran­cho Per­for­mance shocks, and a modern winch. And now that it has won a cou­ple of awards, it’s time for the fa­ther-and-son duo to fi­nally en­joy the truck as it was meant to be used. Roam free, you ma­jes­tic beast.

‘The FJ45 is an ex­tremely rare Toy­ota Land Cruiser’

An off-road rig wouldn’t be com­plete with­out a winch

The pris­tine in­te­rior matches the su­per­clean ex­te­rior

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines

© PressReader. All rights reserved.