If you thought the retro craze featuring updates to classic vehicle nameplates was unique among North American automakers, think again. From Toyota Japan comes the FJ Cruiser, a modern take on the classic FJ40 Land Cruiser. Originally a concept presented at the 2003 NAIAS, it went full into production in 2006. It was so special that the only way you could get the AUTO art 1:18 diecast until recently was to buy the 1:1 truck. The model was included in your purchase price and these gems routinely sold for over $150 on the secondary market. Until now.
While the original FJ40 was an unapologetic workhorse that often found it’s way into third world countries because of it’s rugged construction, the modern version is more for the upscale commuter. Colors like Fusion Yellow and Voodoo Blue –all of which come with a white roof - are more suburban than safari. The truck has some of funky design elements, such as suicide rear doors to allow cargo or kids to get in and out more easily, image lights on the exterior rear view mirrors and the aerodynamic quality of a Pizza Hut sign.
But it can do some serious bushwacking. Big knobby white lettered B.F. Goodrich tires support the model and a full size spare is mounted on the door. Turn the model over and you’ll see a beefy double wishbone suspension at the front and a 4-link rear suspension with lateral rod with coil springs and stabilizer bar. Open the hood and can see the modestly presented 239hp engine the delivers 278 ft.-lb of torque.
Sliding around in the mud or driving the kids to school, the interior is all about comfort and style. The color keyed dash has a daunting array of dials and gauges – so many that three are mounted on top of the dash mounted. The cargo hold is extra roomy (seats on the model do not fold down) and the ribbed roof with a sturdy roof rack can take any load that won’t fit.
If you’re looking for a weakness in this model then pull up a chair because I still haven’t found one. As usual on their fully opening models, AUTO art has sweated the details, so everything from the trademark front grille to the oversize fenders to the badging are impeccable. And the Voodoo Blue? Oh yeah, I’m in – the paint is pretty and liquid. This truck has twice the panache of a Hummer with less attitude.
The boys at TRD had it racing at the Baja 1000, so maybe one day soon….