Classic 40-series Land Cruiser models are recognised as the most collectible of Japanese cars. However, production concluded over 30 years ago and vehicle development has steadily progressed – traits that likely mean individual models are in need of restoration and modernising.
What if you took those needs to the nth degree and created the ultimate classic Land Cruiser for the most discerning adventurer? What would it look like?
May we point you in the direction of the new Signature model from the Land Cruiser specialists at the FJ Company. As you will appreciate from the rest of this post, it’s a classic Land Cruiser but with a modern twist – one that enhances the successful formula of the past with custom good looks, luxury materials and a modern Toyota powertrain.
Land Cruiser Signature: an authentic beginning
The project began by sourcing a suitable base car – a 1981 FJ43L-KC Land Cruiser in Freeborn Red. Found in a small town in central Columbia, South America, the model is a rare, two-door medium wheelbase soft-top model but equipped with an off-white manufacturer accessory hard-top. It had been in the possession of the same owner since new, who was now in his 90s and unable to continue driving.
Although the vehicle had been maintained well and was in surprisingly good condition, all FJ Company projects begin with a full restoration. The steel body was therefore separated from the rugged underlying frame, with both elements stripped back to bare metal and expertly restored and rebuilt by hand to showroom condition.
These are upgrades that even Land Cruiser purists will appreciate
But from this point of the rebuilding process the FJ Company’s innovation team took over, with the aim of transforming the workhorse into the most hot-blooded thoroughbred in the line-up.
As the Land Cruiser came off the production line in Japan as a convertible model, the optional hard-top was removed and a custom canvas soft-top was commissioned to restore its originality. However, with fully removable side and rear windows plus a roll-back sun roof, the new cover offers more wind-in-the-hair permutations than the original.
Land Cruiser Signature: classic looks, modern edge
Focusing on creating a classic look with a modern twist, the exterior was painted in Toyota’s earthy Dune Beige but with a custom matt finish.
It is accented with the iconic white grille, pristine chrome badges and new CNC-machined alloy accessories painted in gunmetal grey. Among these, the custom side mirrors blend original design elements from early 40-series models with the larger dimensions and utility of the mirrors introduced in the mid-Seventies.
Similarly, the original 40-series front bumper has been modernised with integrated Baja Designs LED fog lights. Also mounted to the bumper is a popular Warn 8274 winch with a custom hawse fairlead to guide the synthetic winch rope.
But the big news of this Signature build is its trail-busting powerplant. Lift the bonnet and the original yet agricultural 4.2-litre 2F straight six is nowhere to be seen. Instead, under the attractive carbon fibre cover is a brand new, silky smooth Toyota 1GR-FE petrol engine – the same 4.0-litre V6 found in modern Land Cruiser and retro-styled FJ Cruiser models.
Controlled by an aftermarket Haltech ECU and breathing through a free-flowing Borla stainless steel exhaust system, the 240-horsepower output of this engine is almost double that of the outgoing 2F. Which is why the FJ Company has been responsible in upgrading other elements of the car.
This included adding Old Man Emu leaf springs with high-performance Fox shock absorbers, new disc brakes from the current Toyota 4Runner on each corner, a more long-legged six-speed manual transmission, and a subtle six-point roll-cage.
The FJ Company is convinced that the new powerplant concealed within the sympathetically modified body is an upgrade that even Land Cruiser purists will appreciate.
Land Cruiser Signature: luxury living
While the 40-series Land Cruiser can never escape its utilitarian roots, the FJ Company’s Signature interior redefines the off-roader by striking the perfect balance between minimalism, luxury materials and modern technology.
Elements of the exterior design are repeated to inform the interior aesthetic. So custom alloy components such as the window winders, door handles, pedals, shifters and pull knobs are CNC-machined and painted to match those found outside the car.
Also providing a contrast with the exposed metal dashboard is the custom honey leather upholstery across the seats, door panels, centre console and gear gaitors. While the traditional jump seat set-up remains in the back, the front seats are comfortably bolstered Recaro Sportster CS recliners – and they are all heated so the occupants stay warm when brisk mountain air is circulating through the open roof.
Alternatively, you can shut out the rest of the world, turn up the Vintage Air retro-fit air-conditioning system, and immerse yourself in the sounds of a high-end Focal sound system controlled via an Apple iPad mounted in the custom centre console.
Land Cruiser Signature: Can I get one?
The simple answer is yes, although you may need to exercise patience and have a healthy stash of savings. Due to the painstaking processes involved in each vehicle, the FJ Company has scheduled just 24 Signature builds during 2018. The cost of each vehicle starts at $200,000 and a production slot can be reserved by paying a $5,000 fully refundable deposit.
If your Land Cruiser ambitions are not as high as a top-of-the-range Signature model, fully restored 40-series models custom-built to your specifications are available to order from $85,000.
Learn more: History of the Toyota Land Cruiser
Learn more: Six epic Land Cruiser models from around the world