FJ Retrospective

FJ Retrospective

I plan to writeup a series of posts detailing the build of my 2007 FJ Cruiser, capturing its evolution since I purchased it in 2006. On Instagram I’ve seen FJ builds go from stock to fully built within a year or so. My FJ is fairly built out currently, but I want to be able to demonstrate that it was a slow process –– with varying degrees of upgrades for rock crawling, performance, expeditioning, or comfort etc etc.

But let’s take a step back and talk about why I bought this thing. First off, I’m a Toyota guy. My parents drove mostIy Toyotas –– the ones that broke down weren’t (Chevy, Oldsmobile, Dodge). I learned to drive in my dad’s 77 Celica GT Liftback, and was blessed enough to have an 89 Celica ST when it was time to have my own car. After graduating and landing my first career job, I got a 98 4Runner Limited. There was a lot of “ricer” carryover from my Celica days and I had imported various JDM Hilux Surf parts for it. The dot-com boom happened and I wanted a pickup. I got a 2000 Tacoma Prerunner. The next year, Toyota then released their first double-cab configuration for it and I had to have it. So me being a dumb guy in his 20s, I went upside down on the trade in and placed an order for it. That truck served me well and in 2005 I even installed the TRD Supercharger for it (my dad drives it now and I sometimes take it for a spin just to hear that supercharger whine under the hood).

[November 2006] I was eyeballing the 2nd gen Tacomas for a while by then and decided to take a trip down the dealer to look. That’s when I saw some FJs lined up on the lot. Several in “Voodoo Blue”, “Sun Fusion” yellow, Black Cherry. All with white roofs. And the rear doors opened backwards. And they had a weird light in the side mirrors. And they had 3 windshield wipers. So weird but cool. Keep in mind this was the mid 2000s. Toyota at the time made extremely boring looking cars so it was inconceivable for the FJ Cruiser to even exist. Also everybody drove beige, white or silver cars. These FJs stood out. Took a test drive in the FJ that I ended up buying, and long story short, I came in looking for a Tacoma and drove off the lot in a brand new FJ Cruiser.

I don’t have any photos of when it was brand new, but you just search for it. My first upgrade came within a few weeks and ended up getting installing a Toyota skid plate and set of 5 BFG All Terrains in the same size as the stock tires, because I really wanted it to look like Toyota’s publicity photos (see the main photo above). So much better. Continuing with the “build it like the promo” theme, I got a set of Toyota’s rubber floor mats to replace the carpeted ones, and had a TRD cat-back exhaust installed. I found and there were plenty of meetups for trail runs and I had to join one. With my previous history of Toyota trucks, I never took them off pavement, but I was inspired by the FJ Cruiser’s legacy and I felt obliged to take this thing in the dirt. I got some Staun Tyre Deflators and a Midland CB radio on the advice from some on the boards. I also wanted to armor up a bit (a bit overkill for this trail but I didn’t know any better). So off went the factory running boards and installed Demello sliders.

So, my first trail run was from Corona going up to Santiago Peak with a bunch of new FJ owners and more experienced 80-series Cruisers leading the way.

One core memory was the feeling going from pavement to dirt and how much different it felt to drive (and that was just the trailhead!). Even though it was just a fire road, it was perfect for a newbie like myself. When we reached the top near the antenna arrays, we stopped for lunch with a foggy view.

The descent was just as fun and ended near Lake Elsinore. While getting aired up and admiring the dirty FJ, I knew I wanted to experience more. I was hooked.

The build so far

  • Tires: BF Goodrich All-Terrain KO (265/70R17)
  • Armor: Toyota skid plate, Demello Offroad sliders
  • Performance: TRD cat-back exhaust
  • Interior: Toyota rubber floor mats
  • Comms: Midland CB Radio
  • Gear: Staun Tyre Deflators