My 5,000-Mile Road Trip In A 275,000-Mile Fancy Toyota Land Cruiser I've Never Seen Begins Sunday

Illustration for article titled My 5,000-Mile Road Trip In A 275,000-Mile Fancy Toyota Land Cruiser I've Never Seen Begins Sunday
Illustration: Jason Torchnisky

I’ve never even seen the 275,000 mile Lexus LX470 that I bought for $5,000, and yet, on Sunday, the first thing I’ll do upon getting behind the wheel is point it towards Seattle, Washington, nearly 2,500 miles away. Here are the the details of most pointlessly idiotic and failure-prone road-trip I’ve ever planned.

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It’s all going down this Sunday. I’m hopping on an Amtrak (assuming it’s mostly empty, and my research shows that most trains sit at about 25 percent capacity) with as many tools as I can carry and heading to Chicago, five hours away.

Upon arrival, I’ll be united with my 2003 Lexus LX470, the fancy rebrand of the 100-Series Toyota Land Cruiser. I will then check the oil, change it if it’s not a light amber, and then head west. Then farther west. Then ever farther.

I won’t quit until a) The Lexus breaks down or b) I reach Seattle, where I will meet possibly the friendliest looking villain of all time. Don’t let its puppy-like face fool you, this thing wants to kill:

Illustration for article titled My 5,000-Mile Road Trip In A 275,000-Mile Fancy Toyota Land Cruiser I've Never Seen Begins Sunday
Photo: Tom Mansfield

This is where the plan becomes really idiotic. For reasons unknown, I have it in my head that I want to get that Jeep FC running and driving. The problem is that the vehicle is in worse shape than 90 percent of cars in junkyards. As far as I understand from the previous owner, the pickup has been sitting for over a quarter century. The interior is covered in mouse droppings, the carburetor is rusted to hell, the doors (passenger’s side, tailgate) are literally falling off, and the seats look like, well, this:

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Photo: Tom Mansfield
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Still, I want to get the old Willys Jeep running and driving. And honestly, I want to see how far back towards Michigan I can get it before it blows up. My headline should tell you how confident I am of accomplishing this.

Obviously, this is a tall task I’m suggesting, here. This is an entire one of my trademarked Moab Projects rolled up into the span of just a few weeks. Parts are so hard to find for old FCs, that I know I’d have to fabricate much of it.

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Unfortunately, I don’t have my good friend Brandon to help. He’s the best all-around mechanic I’ve ever known, and he helped me complete such a fools-errand back in 2019. All we had to do on that trip was swap a clutch, some brake parts, a few U-joints and tighten some track bar nuts. This FC is going to need a lot more than that, and yet, my Ace-in-the-hole won’t be there. I’ll be alone.

All of this is to say that, just because the idea is in my mind doesn’t mean it’s actually going to happen. I have limits just like everyone else. My limits for discomfort are extremely high, so I doubt we’ll run into those, but something tells me I’m going to run into a financial limit trying to pull this off. Or maybe a time-limit. Maybe my boss will tell me to stop screwing around with a rusty Jeep and get back to blogging. Who knows?

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All I know is, if this Land Cruiser — which, again, I have never even seen — makes it 2,500 miles to Washington, I’ll do a thorough inspection of the FC, and start by trying to get it running. I’ll pop the carburetor off and remove the intake and exhaust manifolds to clean out all the junk that’s undoubtedly inside. When those parts are cleaned and sealed, I’ll tinker with the points, slap a new battery in, and see if I can get it running with starting fluid. If that works, I’ll get a new fuel pump, run the vehicle off a jerry can, and see how this motor sounds after sitting for possibly 25 years.

Only if I can get the Super Hurricane inline-six flathead motor running beautifully will I even consider tinkering on anything else. If the motor is shot, I’m towing this FC back to Michigan, and preparing for an electric vehicle conversion with the help of some incredibly talented electric vehicle engineers who have bravely volunteered to consult.

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Photo: Google maps

Anyway, if you live anywhere along this route and want to meet up in a socially distanced way, email me at david.tracy@jalopnik.com. If I somehow get the FC running and driving, then my advice is to stay off the roads at all costs. (For the record: I’m kidding. I won’t drive an unsafe car).

Stay tuned starting Sunday to my Instagram page, which will be filled with dumb videos and photos of my trek from Troy, Michigan to Chicago (with hundreds of pounds of tools in tow), then my first-look at the Lexus, then a long drive to Seattle followed by an introduction to possibly the rustiest Jeep I’ve owned.

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Why am I doing this? I truly don’t know.

Sr. Tech Editor, Jalopnik. Owner of far too many Jeeps (Including a Jeep Comanche). Follow my instagram (@davidntracy). Always interested in hearing from engineers—email me.

DISCUSSION

Somewhere, deep in the bowels of Troy Michigan’s Property and Zoning bylaw enforcement division building:

Gentle, forlorn, sobbing... with only the faintest audible whisper: “Damn you David Tracy. Damn you to hell, you sonofabitch.”