Unreal Garage Find: 1974 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40

While we all covet barn finds, even better is finding a forgotten vehicle with incredible clues to its past still visible. This 1974 Toyota Land Cruiser is a time capsule, but not for the typical reasons of being perfectly preserved – it is very well preserved, but it’s the details about its off-roading past that make it absolutely killer. The seller notes he spotted this FJ40-series Land Cruiser in the longtime owner’s garage and asked about potentially selling it; he was kindly told that it was not for sale. But the seller’s info was kept in the glovebox and following the previous owner’s passing, he got the call to scoop it up. Good for him – even if it’s now being flipped for what is a likely to be a tidy profit. Be sure to check out all the photos in the gallery, as it shows that the original owner built this Land Cruiser for off-road use and was part of a vibrant community of off-roaders in the Coachella Valley of Southern California. Find the Toyota here on eBay with bids to $13,100 and no reserve.

The details are just unreal on this Land Cruiser, with the perfectly preserved period bumper stickers, hilarious license plate frame, old-school California blue plates, and upgraded wheels and tires for off-road use. The paintwork is dinged up in places, but not from carelessness; it sports the classic signs of actually being used as intended. The Toyota was built with help from the selling dealership, known as the Downey Toyota Off-Road Center, whose license plate frame is still attached to the front bumper. The enhancements include rear fender flares, a Dayton winch and remote, Carello fog lights, soft doors with side pockets, Tri-Y headers, bolt-in roll bar, dual shock suspension, Holley 350 carburetor, and more. Imagine walking into your Toyota dealer and ordering up the modern equivalent of those parts for your Tacoma.

The dash is a timepiece in and of itself, still sporting badges from numerous sojourns with the now-defunt Sareea Al Jamel 4WD Club, which ran an annual “Fast Camel” cruise event in Indio, California. These are the kinds of things that remind you how wonderful vehicles can be, when they unlock access to a club of enthusiasts who make a point of getting together every year to push their cars or trucks to the limit, all in the name of good fun. The interior of this unrestored Land Cruiser remains in exceptional condition, with little in the way of flaws to report. The seller did have the buckets reupholstered, so it’s not completely original, but it also looks quite good. Other improvements include a new bikini summer top and having the roll bar wrapped in custom vinyl padding. The dash remains in outstanding condition, and the same goes for the rubber floor mat.

The engine is said to have started right back up with minimal fussing after the seller removed it from longtime storage in the California garage. Fresh fluids, a battery, and a rebuilt Holley and the FJ40 was able to fire up with ease, even when cold. The truck still stops and shifts through the gears. Overall, this is an incredible example of an FJ40 Land Cruiser that was modified in period with dealer-supplied accessories, and next to nothing has changed since it last trundled down the trail at the Fast Camel cruise. It’s a timepiece and a reminder of how diverse the southern California car and truck scene is, and a testament to how much fun can be had when a group of enthusiasts gets together to test the limits of their vehicles. I hope this Land Cruiser continues to spend time on the trails and continue the legacy of the longtime original owner who built this truck exactly the way many of us would have.


WANTED 1988-1989 Chrysler Conquest TSI Wanted. Prefer Red. Will travel nationwide for vehicle. Contact

WANTED 1967-1969 Pontiac Firebird Looking for an original 400 convertible, 3 or 4 speed preferred. No restomods. Contact

WANTED 1958 Chevrolet impala looking for cruzer fender skirts for 1958 impala Contact

WANTED 1976-1980 Plymouth volare Looking for Dodge Aspen / Plymouth Volare donor car with good sheet metal for parts for my project Contact

WANTED 1973 Dodge Challenger Wanted – 1973 Dodge Challenger Rallye or 1966 Chevrolet Impala SS (must be reasonably rust free) Contact

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  1. Bluetec320 Bluetec320 Member

    I’d love to have that license plate frame on our Jeep Wrangler, but since it is also my Wife’s DD, I don’t think that would go over too well, lol.

    Like 8
    • Dave

      I was thinking of baked beans, myself. Roll that beautiful bean footage!

      Like 1
  2. angliagt angliagt Member

    Does anybody actually keep these kind of finds rather than
    flipping them?I just hope he didn’t tell the owner “How much I’ve –
    always wanted one of these”,etc.

    Like 3
    • Dave

      Here in the Rust Belt, you have to flip these because they’ll start rusting away as soon as the dew point gets above 50 degrees.
      Japanese cars driven here in Pennsylvania through the 70s and 80s didn’t last much beyond two or three years before rust made them uninspectable.
      Heck, my wife’s 2014 Patriot had to have a tie rod end replaced due to corrosion and my 2016 Patriot needed a lower control arm replaced due to corrosion. I guess things haven’t improved much, have they?

      Like 3
      • bikefixr

        Chrysler product. Here in NJ is no better. I’ve replaced brake lines, fuel lines..upper strut mounts..things that should NEVER rust, but do. All Chrysler…penny pinchers to the extreme.

        Like 1
  3. bobhess bobhess Member

    Almost bought a hard top version but folks kept talking rust so bought a Blazer instead. All I got was a bigger rust bucket. Always liked the way these rigs were built and the way they looked. Would have been easier to fix the rust too.

    Like 4
  4. Trevor

    I am currently building one of these in the back yard. I bought a 1970 out of West Virginia for $400 with a rusty frame and a snow plow but ran and drove then I found another one in Charlotte nc with a tub and a frame and axles for $400 I am painstakingly swapping everything over and converting all the brakes to disc all the way around! It’s really (not really) fun I suggest everyone try it at least once….

    Like 12
    • gaspumpchas

      Good luck with your resto. Dont forget top mop some rustoleum or POR-15 on that frame to keep the ironworms away!

      • Trevor

        I took the body off, wire wheeled everything, and drowned it in por15! Probably added 100lbs. I just fired it up last night for the first time.

        Like 1
    • douglas hunt

      im in WV, really wish i could score one like that ……

  5. Todd Zuercher

    Wow – this is a total time capsule from the 70s. The license plate frame is from that era as are the Dick Cepek decals. The tires are everyone’s favorite from the 70s – Armstrong Tru Tracs (or maybe Armstrong Miracle Extra Tractions – which are essentially the same thing).

    Like 2
    • Steve R

      Certain vintage license plate frames can sell for a lot of money. Do a search of completed and sold “license plate frame” on eBay. They are a nice finishing touch, especially for “day two” cars and trucks. Recently a couple of 1960’s era frames from a local speed shop were listed for auction on eBay, one red the with other blue lettering, each sold between $300 and $400.

      Steve R

  6. SirRaoulDuke

    The period mods are cool.

    Like 1
  7. bobhess bobhess Member

    Todd… bringing back old memories here. Dick Cepek had a custom wheel manufacturing business along with his tire operation. Early ’70s he built a set of 7″ wheels for one of our race cars and in the early ’80s we sent the VW centers out to him to make another set of 7″ wheels for our Thing and mount tires on them. Don’t remember which tires they were but if you blow the picture up maybe you can identify them.

    Like 3
  8. chrlsful

    I like these, they’re very heavy duty BUT
    the usa’ers are more versatile & made 4 dis country. None of them from the era (europeans, japanese) can be the true multipurpose the bronk’n others could (too low geared). Just as nice inside as ours but no rugs which I like better (till the later yrs). Some w/w.shield flip dwn, door removals but most (inc mine) the 4L i6 – perfect for off rd as low rev tq is supplied so as not to spin tires on the loose stuff.

  9. larryc Member

    It’s got fake coilovers and a “winch” driven by a power drill that would struggle to pull this FJ40 downhill. The truck looks nice but there’s some weirdness going on.

    Like 1
    • Todd Zuercher

      Larry – the ‘weirdness’ is just what we did back in the day in the 70s when this truck was build. Those “fake coilovers” were very popular and they were shock absorbers with coils on them to help with load capacity and also help serve as anti-sway bars. Monroe sold them as “Load Levelers” and there were also “4-Way Equalizer” models sold into the early 90s. They really weren’t a good idea and shock mounts were broken because of the extra loads imposed by those springs. As for the winch, yeah, a lot of poeple put vastly underpowered winches on their rigs back in those days.

      Like 2
  10. tasker

    very cool ride…looks great

  11. douglas hunt

    i have a 1996 FZJ80 cruiser, always loved and wanted one of these but sadly they are like 911’s, out of reach of my wallet………….

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