BUILD­ING THE UL­TI­MATE FJ45

Toyota Connect/Lexus Life - - TOYOTA CONNECT -

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.”

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