Monday, February 18, 2008

Hot Rodded Toyota FJ's

A couple of years ago the theme for the 2006 SEMA show (the show’s 40th anniversary) was American Muscle, but Toyota joined in on the retro-muscle bandwagon with hot rodded truck of their own.

The FJ45 Hot Rod theme coincided with the arrival of the FJ Cruiser 4X4. Mark Amstock (the National SUV and Minivan Market Planning Manager at Toyota Motor Sales at the time) led the team that developed Toyota’s ’06 SEMA show cars. For the FJ45 Hot Rod, Amstock located the FJ45 pickup and gave it to hot rodder Richard Graves.

Graves chopped the top, narrowed the body, channeled it, coated it in satin black (with the signature white roof) and set it on red steel wheels. Amstock also talked TRD out of a NASCAR Toyota Camry V8 motor and had it detuned to 600 horsepower for the hot rodded truck.

Toyota’s North American sales guys didn’t start a trend by modifying an FJ series truck, they merely tapped into a scene that’s been rolling along for a long time with companies like TLC (Toyota Land Cruisers) of Van Nuys California.

TLC has been restoring and tastefully modifying the FJ series and all Land Cruisers for years. The original FJ series was available in the US between 1963 and 1967 as a shortbed pickup with a fixed or removable roof, and as a four door wagon. TLC’s full blown (to use a Mustang term) “resto-mod” restorations put modern 6 liter V8’s into the FJ and other Landcruisers.

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