Cheap But Rusty: 1977 FJ40 Toyota Land Cruiser

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It’s rare to find a Toyota FJ40-series Land Cruiser for short money, and when you do, it’s almost always because the truck is in fairly sorry shape. This 1977 Land Cruiser is complete but quite rusty and will need total restoration; consequently, it’s offered for just $2,000 and listed here on craigslist near Kansas City. It has an engine and transmission and comes with a clear title. Thanks to Barn Finds reader Chuck F. for the find. 

Oof – that’s a fair amount of body rust. The seller calls it “typical” for a truck that has lived in the Midwest, but this might slightly more extreme than most casual enthusiasts are willing to take on. The rust that has punched its way through the body is seemingly identical on either side, so hopefully, the robust FJ aftermarket has begun making replacement panels. Rust has also found its way into the rockers and pretty much all of the lower extremities.

The FJ interior is in need of total restoration as well, from the seats to the door panels and presumably the floors. The seller doesn’t provide any explanation as to how this old Toyota ended up sitting parked for so many years that its body began to rust away, but it could just stem for years of use as a beater in a midwestern state that spreads road salt in the winter. Of course, these trucks had pretty vulnerable sheet metal straight from the factory, so it wouldn’t take much for it to begin to rot.

Is this a viable restoration project? It’s hard to say. Anything can be fixed and the values of FJ40s will seemingly always be high. The tricky part is whether you end up into a truck like this for $40,000 (or more), at which point you would have been better off buying one that isn’t quite as rotten. But for some of us, the thrill comes from bringing a vehicle back to life, so hopefully this rough FJ40 will find an owner who likes a bit of an adventure when restoring a vehicle.

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  1. Rw

    The top is worth 2k

    Like 3
  2. geomechs geomechsMember

    Most of you know that I’m not a fan of Japanese cars. However there are numerous times when I have to leave my ‘Made in Japan’ at home and appreciate some of the things that come from the Rising Sun. The FJ series are definitely at the top of that list.

    This type has always appealed to me. I just like it. I would prefer a diesel powered version but I wouldn’t kick one of these off my driveway. Probably one of the worst rusters ever made, I still like them. And the FJ that replaced this? Again, another home run. And now they’ve discontinued that. I wonder what they’re going to come up with next?

    Like 4
  3. HoA Howard AMember

    Well, well, well, not to gloat too loudly, but appears the steam done fizzled on these too. The reason it’s been sitting, I bet, is something mechanical sidelined it, probably drivetrain, and for years, it was someones junk and not worth fixing. Yeah, you heard me, NOT,,,,WORTH…FIXING! Well, here we are, and with the alleged hype on these, the fact that a decent project like this isn’t long gone, tells me, people are slowly finding out what these really are. Had a friend with one just like this, the 4 speed was much better than the 3 speed column, and 55 mph was about all I cared to go in it, not unlike a Bronco. Downright dangerous. Since these are incredibly costly to restore, I’d get it running, brakes, hang a plow on it, and park it up north, like for what it was intended. Slight correction, this is NOT typical rust, as this is still recognizable. Most in my area ended up like this,,,

    Like 0
  4. Dave

    Almost all the rust through I can see, except for the floors, is simply flat sheetmetal. Patching this with sheet stock would be easy. Not running with a poor interior would make this an arduous restoration.

    Like 2
    • Piros1

      I’m not so sure this is as simple as using sheet stock to repair. The way these were made would make this a real task if you were to just cut out the rust and replace the metal with sheet stock. The inner fenders are all spot welded to the tub panels. I this case you would be forming new inner fenders, floor pans, exterior sheet, and on and on. Pretty much thus old Toy need a new tub and front fenders. From my experience with owning these I bet the frame is trashed as well. So basically you have a top, hood, windshield frame, some miscellaneous components and a drivetrain. I sold my 1974 when started down this path 30 years ago. I live these things but will not own another most likely unless I move out to the desert southwest. The rust belt is not very good to these. This one is to for gone to justify a rebuild even for free.

      Like 1

    This may be the winner in he most ridiculous pos that contaminates this normally great site. Come on now…..REALLY?

    Like 0
    • 370zpp 370zppMember

      Actually mr beidererer, I think your post just became the new winner.

      Like 4
  6. BTG88

    All body parts, and even complete shells are now available. As long as the frame is decent, rebuild the drive train and suspension and mount whatever you need on top.

    Like 1
  7. Trevor

    Four-speed transmission on the floor decent hardtop rebuildable ambulance doors, F2 motor. It’s definitely worth two grand. I’ve bought home worse but for less.

    Like 3
  8. Tony B.

    I’ve owned several FJ-40’s, and yes in the salt-belt they do rust. Mine were never this rusted, but it is very typical. Complete tubs are available, and with the thickness of steel used in these frames, I don’t agree with the opinion that the frame will be shot, as well. A good place to start on sourcing body panels is: Pricey, but top-quality. Very low price for what could end-up being a great rig.

    Like 0
  9. Heck DodsonMember

    Even as rusted out as it is with engine and trans and rear end still intact someone will certainly snatch this Cruiser up for this price and save it. There’s still 2k of value in parts alone.

    Like 4
  10. Piros1

    I agree that if you are doing a ground up build or a restoration the drivetrain in this LC is probably worth the asking price. I do really like the LC and they are fun to drive and generally handle well.

    Where I was coming from with the crane on my earlier comment was mine was pretty well under way to a total loss around 30 plus years ago and I was very adamant about keeping it clean out. The issue with these frames particularly in the rust belt is the are an inverted channel inside of the main channel frame with plenty of openings to allow dirt, salt, and moisture in and trapped where will not naturally fall out. Very strong when in good condition but in my situation it was a mess. Same with the body panels. Maybe I just had one with metallurgical issues. I have seen a number of them out in the western states with next to perfect frames for what it’s worth.
    I hope it goes to a good home and has a happy future. I like to see older vehicles restored if possible.

    Like 1

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