Restore Or Modify? 1976 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40

This is a well traveled Land Cruiser.  By well traveled, I don’t mean that it’s been driven a lot. The seller claims it was disassembled in 1981 and the parts have since been to Portland, San Diego and now found here on eBay in Nevada.  The current bid is $4,050, which is pretty strong money considering it has no engine and is likely to be missing parts from so many moves.

My first question is “Why was this Land Cruiser taken apart when it was only five years old?”  It certainly doesn’t look like it was in the type of an accident that would warrant it being parted out.  Maybe it was in a flood?  Maybe the engine seized for some reason and was pulled out…But, why were the seats, taillights and other parts removed if it was only in need of a replacement engine?  As you know, a lot of times, these questions are rarely answered with any certainty.  It’s fun to speculate though, isn’t it?

The bonus here is that the interior and engine bay are ready to go for restoration or modification. These old Toyotas do well with a straight six or small block crate engine.  With the original engine missing, the choice is yours.  As long as the time it spent in Portland was inside and dry, it should be fairly rust free.  The seller does indicate some minor rust on the doors and back panels.  Aside from the drivers door, the glass appears to all be good.

A monumental task ahead.  Sorting out and inventorying all the small parts will be difficult for anyone except a Land Cruiser expert who has done a similar nut and bolt restoration before. There are several pictures of the parts included in the ad.  You can clearly see four seats, transmission, transfer case, steering wheel and other major components as well as several boxes of small parts.  If all of the parts can be sorted out and accounted for, this would make a good project for anyone who loves these old FJ40’s.

Fast Finds


  1. John T

    Lots of interest and bidding activity on this Toyota project! I respectfully agree with the author that $4050 is a strong bid under the circumstances but as of 11:30AM Eastern Time, the bidding has incredibly escalated to $5900 and the reserve is still not met! With only 4 hours left until the end of the auction, I can not imagine how much more the seller expects to get. We will find out in just a few hours.

    • JamestownMike

      I contacted the seller and asked what’s the absolute least you’d take for your 76 FJ40 and they responded, “I have the reserve at 9500 make me an offer. Thierry”

  2. jw454

    This one is a bit odd. It went into storage at 5 years old. It only had 76K on the clock but, the motor is MIA. At that mileage the motor shouldn’t have been a problem. The body must have been setting on the ground to sustain that much rust damage to the floor.
    As I said, It just seems odd that it’s in this condition if it was stored inside that long. I don’t know anything about these so, I could be all wrong.

  3. geomechs geomechs Member

    The FJ40 is a worthwhile vehicle to have. I’ve always wanted one with a diesel motor and would probably still entertain that idea today. However if this unit was to come my way it would likely get a 230 or 250 Chevy six and be run that way. An SBC would be nice too but then I’d be joining the belly button crowd….

    • Jeffro

      Is that a pierced belly button?

      • geomechs geomechs Member

        I sure hope not. I can just imagine what the crowd would be like if they all did that. Running an SBC is bad enough…

    • Dave Wright

      I made a cottage industry of converting these to 250 and 292 Chevrolet 6 cylinders in the early 80’s. I had a customer that had one with a bad engine that was crazy expensive to repair. We installed a 250. It was lighter, higher reving engine with more power. The conversion was so successful that other guys started bringing running vehicles in for the conversion. The engines in these were pure boat anchor junk with in sane repair costs. The 6 was a far superior conversion to the V8 and did not tear up the rest of the drivetrain. We would use Kennedy bell housing conversions for the V8 (same as the 6) and build front motor mounts in the shop. The fuel economy also nearly doubled. I know of one of them that was driven the length of the Pan American Highway clear to the south coast of South America and back.

  4. michael streuly

    You would need to pay me to take that piece of crap home.

  5. Howard A Member

    Man, if you think this is rusty, this is what happened to Landcruiser’s in my neighborhood.
    Who knows why people take things apart. I heard drug addicts do that, take something all apart and it sits. Prices have shot to the moon on these, and I can’t figure out why. I think people buy these thinking, how different could it be from my new Landcruiser, and are quickly disappointed. Great utility vehicle, I had the FJ 55 model, and a friend, one of these. Again, great trucks, nothing I’d want to spend a lot of time in. And to geomechs, the in line 6 cylinder these came with, are a direct knockoff of the Chevy 6.

      • Dave Wright

        It looks similar until you sit it next to the Chev. The Chev is shorter, lighter, has a far superior fuel and oil management system, has a higher available RPM……making it better on the highway, more horsepower and at least equal low end torque. The 292 has a forged crank, rods and pistons, can be rebuilt for 1/3 the cost and will run 4 times longer. As I remember it was nearly 200 lbs lighter. The shorter length allowed us to install Thicker heavier radiators without modifying the core support.

      • Howard A Member

        Well, my friend, once again,I don’t buy that. The F series Toyota 6 cylinder, I feel, was superior to the “Stovebolt 6” it copied in every way. Got better mileage, never burned or leaked oil, didn’t wreak of gas, and spun for years after the body long dissolved away. It was made from 1955 to 1992, probably 2nd only in numbers to the Ford flathead V8. They certainly weren’t junk.

      • Dave Wright

        Howard, we are talking about comparing a second generation to a third generation Chev 6. We can start with 7 main bearings vs 4, steel crank, 200 lbs lighter on and on. I prefer the 292 with the removable intake manifold but there is nothing wrong with a 230-250 with a manifold cast in the head either. The 292 is 50 lbs heavier than the 250, but worth the extra weight with all the forged internal parts. the 3rd generation engines make considerably more horsepower and torque. 200 hp (mill the head to increase compression) is simple with a 292. The 235 tops out at 135 or so. The first engine I rebuilt (I was 13) was a 235 in my 57 Chev. I have a lot of respect for them but the 3rd generation engines are in an entirely different class. The “stove bolt engine” had Splash oilers to the rods, 3 main bearings and was last built in 1936, topping out at 80HP. The Toyota engine copied the second generation 6 cyl that was first made in 1937 and ended in 1963 and is 200 lbs heavier

  6. Dave Member

    Certainly not a piece of crap, but a bit of work to do for sure. As for the motor, as a mechanic, I know this: All one needs to do is run an engine out of oil, and that’s that. Doesn’t matter how little miles were on it. I see it at my shop with alarming regularity.

  7. Twisted bowtie

    I have a 76 FJ40 that went swimming in
    a lake . Bought it from the owner that was
    a Insurance agent and didn’t know s~~t
    about anything mechanical.
    Anyway brought it home drained everything , topped off all the fluids
    and have been driving it to work for 2 yrs.
    O by the way it’s got 5.3 fuel injection & 350 transmission , it will haul the Toy!!!
    Now you understand my username.
    Jus saying😎

  8. JamestownMike

    Auction ended at $7,500 with reserve NOT met. WOW! Seems like all the money for this one……..and they still won’t sell it!?!

  9. Casey Jones

    It’s worth 5k for a good solid body and misc parts w/o question. I’m sure sure someone offered a bid offline and took it home. The engines, drive lines and such are easy to find and fairly affordable. The expense comes with a decent body and ambulance doors particularly. 76-78 are the most desirable with the 2F engine and molded door edges. I believe they also have the rear vent wings in the top as well.
    I have a 78′ in need of a body which BTW can be bought in Aluminum in various forms, as well as new steel frames in a variety of configurations never sold by Toyota as well as a Troop carrier and the FJ-45 series pickup. Aquala Industries in BC Canada has these bodies and frames… someday I’ll build the crew cab FJ-45 I’ve always wanted to make lol. My truck is good for a donor at the least :/

    • JamestownMike

      I’m with you on “It’s worth 5k for a good solid body and misc parts w/o question.”………but it brought a $7,500 high bid and the seller wants $9,500!?! I was willing to pay $5 to $6k for the engine less basket case! I would look into a Chevy 5.3 LS swap or Lexus V8 swap.

    • JamestownMike

      This 76 doesn’t have the rear vent wing windows in the top. 77 was the first year for this feature.

  10. KevinW

    I test drove one of these for a friend about twenty years ago. It had a 283 swap but they didn’t change the gearing. At 50 mph, the small block was screaming, and no, it wasn’t in 4WD.

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