Orange Crush: A Me­chan­i­cal Love Af­fair


Bob Do­herty can tell you a story of a high school love af­fair that ends with bright orange paint in­stead of a breakup. Be­gin­ning in his last year of high school, Bob and the ’69 Toy­ota Land Cruiser started their re­la­tion­ship by spend­ing lazy days on the trail and in the sand, learn­ing all there was to know about one an­other. The Land Cruiser re­mained mostly stock for the be­gin­ning of the re­la­tion­ship, but as parts wore out and broke, Bob took the op­por­tu­nity to make qual­ity im­prove­ments— the first be­ing the en­gine.

The stock mill didn’t break or wear out, Bob just wanted more power. His so­lu­tion came in V-8 form with a 350ci ’70 Chevy small-block that had a Christ­mas wish list of up­grades. The en­gine was bored 0.030 inches over stock and given TRW flat-top pis­tons, a Sig Er­son cam and lifter set, Crane rocker arms with TRW chro­moly pushrods, and ported and pol­ished Chevy Bow Tie heads. As a re­sult of all the work done to it, the en­gine squeezed out a 10.6:1 com­pres­sion ra­tio. Even with the good­ies in the en­gine, Bob wanted a bit more oomph from un­der the hood; he added a NOS Cheater Se­ries ni­trous ox­ide in­jec­tor sys­tem, al­low­ing the V-8 Land Cruiser to flirt with 600 horses of power.

To get as in­ti­mate as pos­si­ble with the gear se­lec­tion process, Bob chose a re­con­structed ’67 Mun­cie four-speed M22 man­ual trans­mis­sion for his ’Cruiser. He wrapped the bell­hous­ing with a Lake­wood scat­ter­shield, added a Hurst Com­pe­ti­tion Plus shifter and Mcleod 11-inch clutch and pres­sure plate, and also smoothed out the shift­ing with syn­chros on all the gears.

Of all the mod­i­fied parts on the ’Cruiser, Bob left the chas­sis alone, aside from the 2-inch steel-tube rollcage mounted to the frame. More care­ful work went into the sus­pen­sion when Bob re­worked the shock mounts to ac­cept a pair of KYB gas-charged shocks at each wheel in the front. The rear of the rig was light enough that one shock per cor­ner was enough to do the job. Bob main­tained the leaf-spring sus­pen­sion on the ’Cruiser, but he re­moved a leaf from each rear pack to soften the ride. To de­crease bind­ing, he lined each leaf with sheets of polypropy­lene to keep the steel faces from con­tact­ing each other.

The FJ40 was of­ten found wear­ing 15x10inch Enkei 30 wheels dressed with 11-15LT Tru-trac tires, or if the oc­ca­sion was the dunes, a quar­tet of Streaker three-piece alu­minum wheels and Big Brother pad­dle tires from Sand Tires Un­lim­ited. The ’Cruiser’s two-piece fiber­glass body came from Malotte Man­u­fac­tur­ing and was fur­ther glitzed by a coat of Com­pe­ti­tion Orange Im­ron paint with a clearcoat to keep it shin­ing for years to come.

Bob wanted to make sure the FJ was beau­ti­ful in­side and out, so he hand­built the dash­board from birch, sprin­kled in a cus­tom ar­range­ment of gauges, and tai­lored all the wiring to his spe­cific needs. The high-backed poly bucket seats were well padded, mak­ing all the time spent be­hind the Grant steer­ing wheel pain­less and care­free. The rear of the rig could ei­ther house a back seat or be smartly draped with a black vinyl snap-on ton­neau cover.

Whether perched on a boul­der or parked for a night on the town, Bob’s 13 years of de­vo­tion showed through on this build, which we fea­tured in the Au­gust 1986 is­sue of Four Wheeler. The axles and trans­fer case might be stock, but much like hu­man re­la­tion­ships, it’s the lit­tle things that make a dif­fer­ence—like the Chevy Bow Tie on the grille, chrome plat­ing through­out the ve­hi­cle, and re­plac­ing vir­tu­ally all hard­ware with stain­less hex-head bolts.

We want to hear about your high school wheel­ing rig! Was it a re­la­tion­ship built to last or a two-month fling end­ing with a blown tranny? Send the story to ed­i­ and please make sure to in­clude some high-res­o­lu­tion pho­tos!

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