SEMA has a reputation for being a circus of cars modified to the brink of absurdity and then some. But among American cars, especially the muscle favorites of the 1960s and 70s, money-no-object yet tasteful resto-mods abound. Among J-tin, there is no model that reflects this aesthetic better than the Toyota Land Cruiser.
This year the Maxxis Tire booth displayed a beautiful FJ45 pickup built by Proffitt’s Restoration Land Cruisers. At first glance, you wouldn’t think it was anything other than a well-restored FJ45 lifted on Maxxis’s Razr-MT mud-terrain tires. That’s partially true, as Jeremiah Proffitt has conducted a thorough frame-off restoration on this rare pickup body style.
Peek under the hood, however, and you’ll notice a 4.2-liter 3F motor from a 1988-90 FJ62 Land Cruiser. Not only does that bump power to 155 horses and torque to 220 lb-ft, but adds fuel injection and some reliability improvements over the original 2F.
Underneath, an H55F transmission adds a much needed fifth gear for modern driving. Its front and rear axles have also been swapped out for those from an FJ60. The 2.5-inch lift comes form an Old Man Emu kit with Bilstein 5100-series shocks.
Proffitt’s Resurrection Land Cruisers is based in Austin, Colorado, a region essentially built for such trucks were to traverse. “We build Land Cruisers to customer spec,” founder Jeremiah Proffitt told us, “We don’t build any to sell. Everything is commissioned. We’ve made several with Cummins diesels, but I prefer keeping everything part of the Toyota family.”
Elsewhere at the show, another Proffitt resto-modded Land Cruise was displayed beside a Toyota Tacoma overlanding rig. The tan FJ40 also had a 3F swap but was otherwise just as , a necessity for the elevation changes on Colorado’s Western Slope.
4x4s are experiencing a surge in popularity these days, as automakers largely abandon the once thriving sports car market. That’s evidenced by the fact that SEMA’s South Hall, once teeming with drift cars and booths from the likes of Falken, Yokohama, Toyo, Bridgestone, Michelin and Dunlop, have all but ceded the entire space to the growing number of tire companies focusing on off-road tires.
In addition to Icon and FJ Company, there are now multiple firms spread across the country specializing in restoring and resto-modding Land Cruisers. One day, when the autonomous cars take over and self-driven cars are banned from the roads, enthusiasts will have go off-road. We can’t think of a better vehicle to do that in.