Toyota Jamaica goes historic

Toyota has an impressive reputation in the off-road community.

A significant amount of this comes from its iconic Land Cruiser.

Introduced in November 1955 it has been in existence for over 68 years making it the brand’s longest continuous selling model. Over this period it has sold over 10 million units.

“The Toyota Land Cruiser is an icon worldwide that has paved the way for all overland and off-road vehicles since the 1950s. Today you’ll find our Land Cruisers on the plains of sub-Saharan Africa to the Arctic Circle – in other words, this vehicle has driven everywhere on our green earth,” said Micheal McGrane, Head of Sales & Marketing — Toyota Jamaica.

Eagle-eyed Toyota aficionados might have caught more than a glimpse of a FJ40 model Toyota Land Cruiser being driven in a recent episode of YouTube reality show, Meet The Mitchells (MTM), or may have passed it innocently parked the background at one of the two Corporate Area Toyota Jamaica showrooms.

“This 1982 FJ40 is living proof of Toyota’s QDR — Quality, Durability and Reliability. Very few automotive brands have this heritage and reputation and we want Jamaica to experience it first-hand. We also wanted to showcase the skills of Toyota Body Shop, who completed a full body-off restoration,” explained McGrane.”

Toyota Jamaica, in order to prove its prowess, secured a local model that had around 250,000 kilometres on it about five years ago. And the FJ40 showed the wear of every mile in its life.

“This vehicle arrived in Jamaica circa 1981/82. When Toyota Jamaica purchased it, it had a Shanna’s Investments sticker on the side! I don’t know who Shanna is, but it was a good investment on her part.”

The restoration took place under the watchful eye of Toyota Jamaica’s body shop master technician, Boomer, who guided apprentices through each phase to ensure they would gain the skillsets to rebuild a classic.

It was all done 100 per cent locally, sourcing Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts as necessary. Given the purchase state, McGrane said the job was far from problem free, but there was no rush to complete the project and patience was the primary themeof the restoration.

Bodywork straight, electronics repaired, and the four-cylinder diesel four-wheel drive mechanicals done, the FJ40 Land Cruiser hit the road. Of course there was no need to put it back to totally factory specifications. For its second life the FJ40 got a few upgrades to make it acceptable for modern standards.

The first was a fresh coat of Urban Khaki, a new Toyota OEM colour used on the RAV4. Taking more from its modern relatives, the FJ40 wears a set of wheels from the FJ Cruiser wrapped in Maxxis Razor tyres.

Suspension parts from Australian off-road brands ARB 4×4 Accessories and Old Man Emu, are used liberallyunder the FJ40 as Toyota Jamaica is the local dealer for both.

Power steering and air conditioning make the Land Cruiser even more liveable, as does the rebuilt and leather trimmed seating by Fernando of East Coast Customs.

ECC also put a fresh roof liner. Modern LED headlights from City Racer Land Cruiser, keeps the classic look, but adds modern technology.

A Westin T-MAX winch with a 9,500lb rating makes sure the FJ can get itself unstuck should things go wrong off the beaten track.

“We kept the engine, drive train and axles original and true,” said McGrane.

However, the engine does breathe through a safari snorkel should one wish to test the FJ40’s wading depth.

While McGrane won’t discuss final costs, the FJ40 won’t be living some cushy life. It’s been immediately drafted into promotional duties, appearing on social media like MTM.

“Thus far Tami & Wayne and the MTM family took it for a drive. Terri Karelle-Reid soon take it off-road. We’ll also plan on showing it at the next classic car meet.”

However, the FJ40 won’t be bearing the brunt of the spotlight alone.

“We currently have a HJ47 in the shop which is a long wheelbase pickup of the same vintage,” revealed McGrane.