Face it, the hipsters won. All things quaint and ironically archaic are now universally cool and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it. Case in point: this tin Toyota is the sexiest thing you’ve ever seen.
So many exotic, tuner and specialty car companies trade on concept of selling you a drivable fantasy. High-end cars and trucks aren’t driven at their limits because they don’t have to be– it’s still fun to be in a Ferrari at 15 MPH and it’s even better to be in a perfectly-resorted 1981 Toyota FJ without even considering going off-road.
But this particular Toyota is especially hot because it’s the perfect confluence of what’s cool right now.
There’s always something universally appealing about a retro ragtop of course. But the popularity of SUVs is at an all-time high, especially anything resembling a Jeep. Especially anything old that’s almost a Jeep but not quite a Jeep.
This thing also accomplishes one of the most challenging feats in 4x4 design; pulling off “adventure” without it turning into “asshole.”
The outfit that created it, simply called “The FJ Company,” does built-to-order old-school Toyotas starting at $55,000. Same old look, but with nice new brakes and no rust. Prices go up to $75,000 in other configurations and up from there with customization.
The FJ Company’s products aren’t as much of a “re-imagining” as Jonathon Ward’s Icon 4x4s, but they’re extremely tidy and I dare say truer to the original product. FJ Company trucks also seem to start at a much lower price point.
As the brochure breaks down this brown beauty, sorry the color’s actually called Olive 637:
“As a part of the full, frame-off restoration, we rebuilt the original 2F engine, the power steering, and the front disc brakes. We installed a new carburetor, new starter engine, new pumps, and we upgraded to a new aluminum radiator. For safety, we added a custom roll-cage, a fire extinguishing system, and 4-point seat belts (optional). The front Corbeau MOAB seats feature the same custom leather upholstery as fold-down seats and door panels.”
Pawing through the FJ Company’s catalog it looks like they’ve had some success selling trucks.
The story on its “about page” is pretty much what you expect; a founder’s passion for vehicles, a team with a good sense of nostalgia and a sharp attention to detail. I’m always curious about how companies like that turn somebody’s hobby into a viable business, so I asked. As President of the FJ Company Juan Diego Calle replied in an email:
“The turning point came in early 2014 when we started seeing a significant influx of people wanting us to build them a classic FJ40. That year we started to publish our work on our website and some of our builds started to command record prices at auction. With that influx of orders we decided to expand production and our distribution channels.”
“The biggest challenge is definitely production scale. Hiring the talent required to build vehicles that meet our quality standards, having the physical infrastructure, the capital requirements, etc, are all aspects of the business that change dramatically when you’re going from ‘hobby’ to ‘viable enterprise.’”
The ’81 FJ featured in these photos was made specifically for Copperstate Overland; a multi-day adventure trip in a wagon train of vintage trucks. The truck’s going up for auction in August, and the winning bidder will get free entry to and mechanical support in the rally when it runs in October.
If you’re not planning on placing a bid or joining the rally, you’ll just have to enjoy this gallery of images with the rest of us.