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BF Exclusive: 1978 Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser

Growing up in an area with a plethora of 4x4s, I’ve always appreciated the classic Toyota FJs. They offer the same level of off road capability as a Jeep, but with the dependability of a Toyota. While the guys that drove them in Wyoming took flack for driving a rig built in Japan, no one could say anything negative about them once they saw one in action on the Jeep trails or crawling down a muddy dirt road! Reader James R found this FJ40, got it running again, but hasn’t had the time to finish it. It’s time for this old Toyota to go to a new home, so if you are interested in it, be sure to contact James via email here! He is asking $3,500 and is located in Morrison, Colorado.

From James R – 1978 Toyota FJ 40 Land Cruiser was a daily driver in Montana for 10 years in the 1990s, pretty much why it looks like it does. Stored then in Colorado by its longtime previous owner 10 more years in hopes of getting back on the road. Acquired by me and some basic fixes begun and stored inside for the last 3 years.

Body Condition: I’ve seen worse. It has its pluses and minuses. As a 39 year old mostly unrestored Toyota I find it to be in average to above average condition as far as straightness completeness and level of rust. Your opinion may be very different than mine as I’m emotionally drawn to the current faded to blue brushed on green house paint on top of thin faded white on top of original green and visible rust. Windshield and frame is needing replacement but has been home repaired by longtime previous owner and tailgate is a piece of painted plywood. It’s been garaged now non used 10 years by PO and improved project mostly just stored 3 years by me. The soft top and soft doors are pretty new as they were replaced and haven’t seen outside much if at all. So the upside to me is basically nothing has been done to restore the body and I find that unusual so tons of opportunity to improve there.

Mechanical Condition: Original 2F Motor with who knows how many miles. My guess is between 100k and 150k. Was parked and started from time to time for 5 years then left for another 5 years without being run. When I found it I had the fuel tank replaced as well as the fuel pump upgraded to an electric version and fuel lines replaced. Then I had the carb rebuilt and new battery put in. Motor runs fantastic and never dropped a drop of oil through the storage or the back running status. Motor is probably strongest asset of the vehicle. Brakes will need work right now you have to pump to stop. I have driven the Land Cruiser and it didn’t strand me out but now it will also need work on the clutch as it recently developed a fluid leak. I’ve seen a coolant drip but the system had pressure tested ok at the shop where I got it running. To really put this back on the road besides as a snow plow or farm vehicle I’d hope for the best and plan for the worst. I like it stock but many may see big trail upgrade or restoration of any level potential. I wanted a running project and that’s pretty much where this one sits. Comes with an untested presumably working used brake booster.

Interior Condition: Interior is surprisingly ok. Have an extra seat and an extra seat frame and 1 jump seat. Most troublesome is front glass which is been fixed with plexiglass. Front seats totally useable as is. Front dash has a chunk out of it. Gauges all Working!


  1. Howard A Member

    This truck falls in pretty much the same category as the Bronco the other day. Not perfect, but totally usable. Lately, people have ape over these, and I’m not sure why. If they think it is going to be just like their new FJ, only older, they usually have a rude awakening coming. I had a FJ55 ( wagon) and a friend had one like this. These, when introduced, like the Bronco, were strictly business, not so much for pleasure. Rode rough, crummy seats, handled poorly, so-so brakes, lousy gas mileage ( especially in 4wd) and of course, the infamous Asian heater, which you would think, for a 4×4 destined for winter use, it would be better. My wagon had an aux. heater in the back, that was equally worthless. The engine, which is a direct knockoff of the Chevy 6, was/is absolutely bulletproof. Many long outlasted the body, as was in my case. While this may be a bit tired, nice ones go for 5 figures, easy, again, I just don’t get why. This is a great deal to be used as it was intended, plowing or drag something in or out of the woods,( be nice if it had the front mounted winch, like mine, very handy, used it many times) but as a DD, not the best.

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    • RayT Member

      Howard, I don’t recall ANY of the four-bys of this era being particularly wonderful as actual all-around vehicles, and I think I drove ’em all at one time or another. My father’s IH Scout was a miserable beast on the highway, Jeeps ditto, and the ‘Yotas and Datsun/Nissans were nearly as uncomfortable. They would, however, do all the off-road stuff pretty capably!

      By the way: a high-school friend had a FJ40 and somehow managed to blow up the engine. He and his older brother bolted in a Chevy stovebolt and all was well….

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    • moosefeather

      All true Howard… and I love ’em, but not sure I’ll ever own as I think they are highly priced for what I’d rarely drive in town due to all you mentioned. I do however own an ’07 as it is way more useful as a daily driver and I can take it off road. The old ones may be the poster child for inflated prices due to guys with too much money on their hands and their collection of classics and supercars. Let’s see, what else can I buy, “Oh hell, I may as well overspend on a nice offroader.” That may be somewhat of an over simplification, but I do think they are overpriced largely because they actually aren’t that particularly rare. Having said that, I would consider this one if I was closer as it’s actually priced relatively ok. Admittedly, I get closer and closer each day to overpaying for one.

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  2. wuzjeepnowsaab

    Very capable off-roaders. Worst part of these is the worst part of Jeep CJ’s…the body doesn’t last very long. This one looks really good relatively speaking and the price is very reasonable imo.

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  3. Dolphin Member

    Probably a good alternative for someone who doesn’t want to pay for a vintage Land Rover.

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  4. Rustytech Member

    Considering restored FJ’s are routinely bringing $50k or more at auction the buyer of this could be accused of theft. Ha Ha. I think this entire vehicle was a Jeep knock off. Toyota did a great job of cloning the CJ except the body material. These thing rusted faster than bare steal! Maybe that’s why good ones bring good money. In the middle of a Jeep restoration now, can’t handle more than one at a time, so someone else will get this 4×4. Enjoy it!

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  5. Phinias

    You’d be wrong about cloning the Jeep…the FJ was bigger, and the engine was a nearly direct copy of Chevrolet’s 6…I know because we had a ’55 Chevy when my dad bought his first FJ. One of the reasons he bought it was because he knew every bolt on the engine, and could work on it…like the Chev. All he needed was a set of metric wrenches and sockets!!

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  6. Dan

    To my uneducated eye, this looks just like a jeep. Do these do anything that a jeep cannot do?

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    • Howard A Member

      Hi Dan, it was told to me like this. Comparing 4×4’s ( or anything, really) it’s like comparing toilet paper. There’s the “rest area” type, and the fancy “quilted” type. They both do basically the same thing, just one does a better job. :)
      It depends what Jeep you are referring to. This Toyota, compared to a CJ of the time, and I love Jeeps, was a bit more refined. These rode a bit better, better steering, and of course, Asian reliability, Jeeps quality was beginning to suffer, AMC, sorry, it’s true. I did like my 55, it was even more refined than this. A full size 4 wheel drive 4 door wagon. ( with some power, I might add) Now lately, I drove a friends ’05 Wrangler, and I have to say, that was the nicest Jeep I ever drove. I don’t know about the new FJ’s, I suppose they are just as nice as the Wrangler.

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