BUILDING THE ULTIMATE FJ45
Gerhard (52) has had a passion for modifying and rebuilding cars since he was a teenager. It not only helped him earn money, but enabled him to create something unique.
His passion’s always been Land Cruisers and he’s owned two FJ45S, the new FJ, two 80-Series, a 79 and a GX 200 – but the FJ45 remains his favourite.
Five years ago, Gerhard and fellow Cruiser fanatic Milton Slabber were sitting around a fire when Gerhard suggested building the ultimate FJ45 Extra Cab 4500 EFI. “The dream was to take the 44-year-old vehicle and remake it as if it had been built today – but that was a lot easier said than done,” he recalls.
Two years into the project, Gerhard changed his mind and told Milton that he’d decided to transplant the FJ45 body onto his VX 80 chassis and drivetrain. Milton hoped his friend would abandon the idea as a crazy one and return to the original plan, but Gerhard was already off and running.
“So off the VX 80 body went and the work started again from scratch,” he recalls. “Moving the engine back 76mm was the easy part, but extending the cab by 270mm and shortening the loading bay were tricky. We then decided to make use of the original VX 80 cluster
CRUISER FANATIC GERHARD VICTOR DECIDED TO GIVE HIS 44-YEAR-OLD FJ45 A NEW LEASE ON LIFE AND CREATED A CAR THAT HAS ALL THE TECH, BUT RETAINS THE DURABILITY OF A TOYOTA CLASSIC
and, after a few beers, we agreed to copy today’s FJ dash and build it out of aluminium. Making professional body mounts was a challenge on its own – the bullbar, rear bumper and rock sliders are all handmade.
“The whole initiative took about five years and we achieved our objective of building a unique car with a 44-yearold body and today’s technology. I put R510 000 into the project.”
The car – which has been brought to new life by a team of specialists from Roy Slabber Engineering, TNT, Lionel’s Audio, Van der Linde Conversions, Handelhuis, EO Air-conditioning and Botex Panelbeaters – now has 4500 EFI automatic, electric diff locks front and rear, electric windows, VX electric seats, ABS brakes, coils and discs all round, power-steering, speed control, central locking, navigation, Bluetooth, an air-conditioner and an infra-red rear-view cam.
“The FJ45 has a different look and will still be a winner, if Toyota ever brings out a heritage model – this model proved to be a proper workhorse and stood up to the most rugged terrains in Africa. It didn’t need a qualified technician or workshop to keep it going and it offers the same comfort as any modern pick-up, but with attitude!” says Gerhard.
“MAKING PROFESSIONAL BODY MOUNTS WAS A CHALLENGE ON ITS OWN – THE BULLBAR, REAR BUMPER AND ROCK SLIDERS ARE ALL HANDMADE.”