When I first bought the FJ I didn’t know exactly what I wanted out of it. I would watch videos, see pictures and read articles about what people were doing with their Toyotas. This gave me ideas and encouraged me to start building the FJ for what I wanted at the time.
The first trips in the FJ were to off road parks with friends or organized events. I would stay there for a few days, do a little camping, meet new people, run the trails and check out other rigs.
Initially, I wanted more of a dedicated off road vehicle/build. I thought about bigger tires, solid axel swap (SAS) up front and a roll cage (turns out I need that). I knew If I turned the FJ into a dedicated off road rig, it would eventually spend most of its life ridding on a trailer.
I enjoyed working challenging obstacles, putting the FJ in crazy places and the possibility of trail damage/breakage. After almost two years though, I found myself not getting much out of it and wanting something more.
By no means am I saying I regret doing that or that I didn’t have fun, because I had a blast. I loved hanging out with friends, meeting new people, running the trails, sharing laughs and having a cold beer by the campfire.
If I had to do it all over again, I absolutely would and plan on doing some of that with the next rig. Attending events is still one of my favorite things.
What do I mean by “not getting much out of it and wanting more?" At the time, I didn’t know what I was missing or even what I was searching for. After taking several large road trips across this great county of ours, I discovered my desire to Explore America.
I found a passion of putting miles on the FJ (on and off road) while seeing new places and re-visiting previous destinations. Meeting new people in other states or re-visiting those friends I had met on past trips was amazing! It was mind blowing to me that I could be crossing a desert on Tuesday in one state and up in the mountains on Wednesday in another state.
It was also amusing to talk with people who aren't used to seeing a heavily modified vehicle like the FJ was. It was even more amusing when I told them how far I was from home, the places I had already visited, where I was heading to next and pointing out all the dirt/mud from different states.They didn't expect a vehicle like that to travel the country.
Each day was a new adventure. Even if it were a place I had already visited several times, I would find something new to appreciate. Most of the time, I knew where I was going and what I wanted to see, but I was not opposed to letting my A.D.D. lead me on an unexpected adventure. If I saw a sign, object or scenery that looked interesting or shiny, I was there.
There were times I stopped for fuel or food and had every expectation of getting back on the road. Before I could, I would strike a conversation with someone who gave me a list of things to see and do in town. Without hesitation, I would modify my plan and go check it out.
Case in point, my buddy Kennedy and I drove from Denver, CO to Kansas City, KS for dinner one day because someone said, "Joe's BBQ was good." Update: They're right!
I can’t count the times we’d be driving and see a random road or trail and say, “I wonder where that goes”. More times than not, it led to nowhere, but occasionally, it would lead to an amazing view and provided an experience I almost passed up. When I think about how easy it is for us to travel now compared to past times, I feel obligated to get out there and explore. What people gave their time and lives for in the past, we can now see in days. Life on the road and sharing those stories gave me a joy that I can’t explain.
Experience and time lead me to realize I wanted more out of a rig. I want something that I can get out there and go where I want, when I want, both on and off road. Something that has enough power and space to comfortably bring gear, supplies and other essentials with me. Something that will bring me back home thousands of miles later and something that’ll look good doing it!
My intention and desire is to build the next rig so it is more suited for long distance adventures versus off road park adventures. I would say it'll be more of an “Over Land" style rig. In my opinion, there isn’t much difference in those two types of builds. Often times they share the same parts, modifications and characteristics as the other. Usually, both style builds overcome the challenges within those separate environments equally.
So if they’re pretty much the same thing, why do I separate the two builds? The reason is, it helps to define my intentions, expectations and what I’m looking for in a replacement rig. Also, it helps me determine a priority of modifications and what should be done first to accomplish those type of adventures.
Here is a list of possible replacement rigs for the FJ. Since I don’t have Oprah money, I need to narrow it down to just one. Let the draft begin!
Lexus GX 470
Wheelbase: 109.8 inches
Length: 188.2 inches
Width: 74 inches
Height: 74.6 inches
Interior Head Room: 40.2 inches
Front Leg Room: 41.8 inches
Curb Weight: 4,871 pounds
Turning Radius: 18.7 inches
Engine: 4.7-liter V8
Horse Power: 270 (+/-)
Torque: 330 (+/-) foot-pounds
Towing Capacity: 6,500 pounds
Ground Clearance: 8.3 inches
Approach Angle: 30°
Departure Angle: 29° raised, 25° normal
Fuel Tank Capacity: 23 gallons
Fuel Economy: 14 mpg city and 18 mpg highway
Vehicle information and specifications are from the following model years:
Vehicle Information Sheets used for this article:
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Baker and Ashlie are the owners of Bourn Adventure and together they author the majority of the articles and content found here.
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