Record-Breaker: ’77 FJ40

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Several years ago I shot a 1978 Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser restored by Finishing Touch and auctioned by RM Auctions. It not only exceeded auction estimates, but came close to setting a record for such a vehicle. When I was again called upon by RM Auctions and tasked with shooting another FJ40 built by Finishing Touch I knew it would be another stellar truck. When was handed the keys and told to take it out for the shoot it was my first time driving an FJ and I now see the appeal even more than I did before. It was a completely different experience than more modern trucks/SUVs and it was clear that everything was there for a reason. After driving and shooting it, getting a close look at the work and attention to detail, I’m not surprised that this particular FJ set a record, hitting over $100,000 at auction.

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135 hp, 4,230 cc OHV inline six-cylinder engine, five-speed manual transmission with low-range and part-time AWD, semi-elliptic front and rear springs with live axle, and hydraulic front disc and rear drum brakes. Wheelbase: 90 in.

  • Toyota’s legendary off-roader
  • Desirable options, including a five-speed upgrade
  • Impressive, recent ground-up restoration, with a new Toyota crate motor

Toyota’s FJ40 Land Cruiser, which was inspired and developed from the iconic Willys M38 Jeep that saw service in World War II, has developed a devoted following of off-road enthusiasts over the years for its competency when the going gets tough. While it was aimed squarely at Land Rover in the 1960s, many found that the Toyota was much more rugged and reliable than its British rival. As such, they were quite popular with individuals who needed a bulletproof vehicle to match their active lifestyle.

Finishing Touch in Fountain Hills, Arizona, was commissioned to perform a top-notch mechanical and cosmetic restoration on this 1977 FJ40. The car was fitted with a new Toyota crate motor with correct performance specifications and all of the factory emissions equipment for the 1977 model year. The body was stripped to bare metal, and the frame was powder-coated to ensure longevity. An OME suspension lift kit accommodates the 33×9.5 Goodrich tires, which have been mounted on the factory wheels. These desirable additions, along with a 21-gallon long-range auxiliary gas tank, demonstrate that this FJ40 is not just for show but that it can also handle serious off-road duty. The drivetrain was further upgraded with the installation of an H55F five-speed manual transmission from FJ specialist suppliers Man-A-Fre, of Simi Valley, California. After being repainted in its original color of Toyota Olive Green (653), the restoration was concluded in 2008, and it has been meticulously maintained since.

Since restoration, this FJ40 has accumulated just under 5,800 miles, and it has been used as a showpiece and frequent weekend transportation. All of these miles were accumulated on the road, with this FJ40 having never been driven off-road post-restoration, in order to preserve its high-quality condition.

Since many FJ40s were used as their creators intended when new, finding a Land Cruiser in as-new condition is often something that is easier said than done. Restored and well-maintained examples remain just as reliable and work-ready as they were the day they left the factory. However, these vehicles are desirable not only for their usability but also for their character and sense of rugged style.

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Text by RM Auctions