Tag: Land Cruiser

Flashback Friday: July 4th Weekend Trail Run

I had a chance to go behind the wheel of a Trail Teams edition FJ cruiser for the first time in 2013. Around August of the following year, I was given the keys to a TRDPro 4Runner to drive around town and dirt roads. After handing back the keys of the TRDPro, I knew that it was a trap – Now I’m hooked and suckered in by these Toyota off road warriors.  It was clear to me that I will have my own truck or SUV one way or the other. It may not be a brand new one straight out of a Toyota show room floor but I had made up my mind that it would be a Land Cruiser. I always had my eye on FJ80 or 80 series cruisers or 1990 – 1997 Land Cruiser. Even with time they still look good and very capable of kicking dirt from weekend road trip. During my initial search I did not find a truck that had an acceptable mileage and within my budget. Also, gas prices were still on the high $4 range that I could not pull the trigger on one.

2015 TRD Pro 4Runner – Behind the Wheel

FJ Cruiser Trail Teams Edition – Behind the Wheel

Beginning of 2015, gas prices was gradually going down so I re-started my search and now I’m equipped with an option after doing some research on the Land Cruisers. The 80 series is a great vehicle that comes with factory front and rear lockers -they are just about unstoppable off road. As an option I had the 100 series on the back of my head. For what I have read and learned, it brings power, comfort and more room while still capable of doing off road or exploration duties. Let’s just say that I found the one after searching for months.  I ended up with a 100 series in a Lexus badge, the LX470.  The most significant change from the Toyota counter part was its front fascia.  It is also equipped with an Active Height Control (AHC) and automated folding side mirrors; other than these features the interior, engine and transmission all are 100 series components.

After owning the LX for a little over a year, the itch to make changes started – well the itch to make modification after a few months of owning it was already there but I held myself from doing so to enjoy the ride and comfort that it brings. It just rides like a huge comfortable sedan or limo. I was so hesitant to make changes specially to the suspension but if I was to take it out on rough roads I need to put a little more ground clearance to the truck.  Also, it does look like a soccer mom’s SUV with the stock trim all intact.

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Browsing through my Instagram feed, I found RPM Auto Center (@rpm626) owned by Mr. Steve Lam. I found out that it was a local shop located in Irwindale, CA that works on various cars and trucks. After being an Instagram-stalker for a while, I learned that the owner also had an LX470 that he had been working on and had been taking it out on the trails. A few DMs and email here and there, I found myself one day at the shop dropping off my LX. Looking around while at the shop, I noticed that a lot of customers were a good mix of young and older generation – taking their vehicles for a simple oil change or doing some upgrades on a rig. The customers seemed really satisfied with the service provided. In the back of my head, I felt that I took my truck to the right place. After running the Lexus AHC suspension for a little over a year, it was time to upgrade the stock suspension. Steve recommended the ARB / OME suspension kit that will provide the truck a 2.5″ lift, a Slee Offroad front Diff Drop and SCS wheels with BFGoodrich All Terrain KO2 tires. He runs the same suspension set up in his own rig and had been satisfied with how it handles on regular streets and trails.

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Steve had organized a July 4th trail run and invited a few recent and old customers to join in. I knew that this will be a good test for the LX after its few upgrades. It will be a good learning session for newbies like me since I’ve only taken a truck on dirt roads. Tagging along in the trail run was the only female driver in the group, Ms. Eliza Alonzo in her 2013 Trail Teams Edition FJ Cruiser. July 3rd came and we met up with the people joining in on the run at Yi Mei in Monrovia, CA. I was anticipating a small group but ended up with at least 15 to 18 trucks lined up in front of the restaurant early in the morning.  It was decided that with the big group that we had, it would be best to go to Silverwood Lake, CA or Cleghorn trail to easily guide and control the drivers that joined.  Part of the group and acted as one of the mentors on this trail run was Mr. Steve Chow who owns a 100 series. He has mentored and organized a number of trail runs even during his Nissan Xterra days but now owns and drives a hundy for a good I believe 10 years now. He still manages to keep it running strong after all these years.

With a few stops along the way to pick up more people joining in, it had at least 18 trucks. At the beginning of the trail, we were asked to prep our trucks and deflate our tires to about 25 psi to get more traction and control going over some rough terrain.  A driver’s meeting was also held to share pointers,  do’s and don’t on the trail.  The group was also divided into 4 groups so that one experienced driver will be with the trail newbies as an adviser / spotter or guide during the run.

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As much as I enjoyed the bump and grind of the trail, I definitely enjoyed meeting new folks as well as seeing some greenery from a higher elevation. Half way through the drive, not only did the elderly statesmen enjoyed the ride but even the young ones were enjoying the sun.

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Don’t be surprised, even a brand new LX570 was in it for the fun. It caught a few bushes and dips along the way but it was more than capable going through the trails. The bruises and scratches will buff off.

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I was surprised with Ms. E. Alonzo on the trail. Driving alone and at times just following the lines of our mentors – the two Steves, she was able to pick up right away at times  doing better than me on her FJ. I think on the back of her head she’s thinking, “I can do what these fools are doing…”

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On the side note… the pinstripes are definitely real.

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At the end of the day, it was a great learning experience for me and everyone else that joined the run. I learned new driving techniques off road and even with its age, the LX held up pretty well. It was my first organized trail run and it did not disappoint. I would like to thank Mr. S. Lam of RPM Auto Center for organizing this event as well as the elderly and  experienced drivers that help guide us newbies at the event. Hope to join in on the next trail event.

 

Until the next one… Peace!

 

-jayson (@dayuumjayce)

 

Thanks to:

Mr. Steve Lam

626-445-0519 RPM Auto Center, Irwindale, CA

626-303-2486 RPM Garage, Monrovia, CA

www.rpm-garage.com

SEMA Show 2014: Jayson’s Pick(s)

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Las Vegas becomes the mecca of automotive geniuses and visionaries every time SEMA (Specialty Equipment Manufacturer’s Association) event is in town.  Fortunate enough to attend this year’s event to feast my eyes on creations that I know were done with extensive planning, hardwork and good partnerships.  This year I was able to witness a good variety of vehicles that impressed me due to its craftsmanship and details – creations that conformed to my liking.  So let’s start…

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#Brotherlylove.  Tjin Edition Ford Fiesta ST and Honda Fit

It’s one thing to work with friends on car builds but to make it a family affair is another.  I can just imagine how the brothers bounced ideas at one another -as crazy as these guys are; they probably used, and abused Denny (@dayuumDen) as a cushion to exert their brotherly frustrations.  But in the end, both vehicles were highly recognized by Ford and Honda for an outstanding vision.

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#NotaRocketBunny. The internet breakers Noel’s Varis FRS and Yogi’s widebody GS

These Asiatic Red Devils just killed it… Nope Kim K didn’t break the internet first… Do you remember when this FRS flooded the facebook and IG feeds? When Noel first broke out the FRS with the Airrex suspension? How about the time when he revealed his Rocket Bunny with the Work VS-KF wheels  and lastly showing off with the full Varis Kit and SSR’s newest wheel, the Professor TF1.  Simple but tasteful details can be noticed not only in the exterior but under the FRS’ hood and interior as well.  I am sure brother Bert had his share of scrapes and bruises working on this FRS.

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Well Yogi broke the internet a few days before his GS showed up in SEMA.  After months of non-stop preparation and work to complete the GS with the help from Buddha Paint, Weds, Falken and Airrex, and many more; the handcrafted widebody sedan stole the spotlight the day it was revealed.

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#TheRocketBunny.  Lexus RB RC350 Fsport, SSA x AutoFashion RB NSX, RB RX7, RB R35 and RB Genesis Coupe

One build that I really wanted to see in person was the Lexus RB RC350 Fsport.  I have not driven one yet but I read a number of good reviews about the vehicle most specially the RC-F.  For me, it was like a luxury FRS on steroids. Or maybe I am just a little Lexus biased but seeing the first renderings of the RC with the RB kit, just made me want to see one in person. The RB kit enhanced the already aggressive look of the RC.  Meaty tires, mesh wheels, perfect stance, the RC will definitely be a hit once it reaches the dealerships.

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Six Sigma AUTOdesign said it best, “We knew many aspects of the project would be controversial, but we wanted to stir the pot. In the end, modifying cars is like an art, what’s the point if we are all painting the same picture? Don’t be afraid to take risks! We love how the car turned out…” Kudos to you guys for taking that leap -out of the norm.

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#Fanboyfavs.  Falken IND M3, Artisan NX200t, Ironman4x4 LC60, Vossen LS460, Vorsteiner M4, Sarto Racing CLK and the Hotchkis Road Runner

This IND-Distribution (based from Chicago, Il)  M3 under the Falken booth was simply stunning – no widebody add-ons but simply utilizing the usual aero enhancements that screams Form and Function. But what really drew me to this vehicle was the color scheme which may be too bold for some. The BMW Yas Marina Blue, cement gray and mint green highlights worked great for this build.

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The very first Lexus NX200t that was fitted with an Artisan kit.  I didn’t imagine that the NX would look so good with just the kit, wheels and low ride height.  The NX series maybe the vehicle that puts the RX series out of the Lexus lineup – only time will tell…

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I have always been a big fan of Ironman 4×4 products.  This year they used an LC60 VX Diesel Turbo to display the quality of accessories, gear and parts they offer. I would not mind taking this LC out on a trailing trip…

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The big body sedan LS460 has always been in my “want” list and this long sled from Vossen was tastefully done.  The elegance of the LS460 Fsport was maintained with the addition of the Skipper front lip and air suspension.

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BMW Widebody M3 suited up with Vorsteiner aero.

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Who would not want to own an American Muscle if it looked this good? This Plymouth Road Runner Superbird was under the Hotchkis booth.

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In addition to the vehicles mentioned above , this year I’ve decided to deviate from my typical wheelhouse and highlight trucks for my SEMA 2014 picks.  From the plethora of new Jeep Rubicons and Wranglers around most of the halls, I found a few that really caught my eye.  I could not pick just one so here it goes…

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3.  The Legacy Classic Trucks: Scrambler and 1942-1943 Dodge WC-53 conversion

These Legacy Classic conversions gives you the old classic feel with new reliable hardware.  The Legacy Classic Trucks are assembled to a customers liking – in terms of its looks and application that it will be used. The Classic V8 Legacy Scrambler Conversion symbolizes the heritage of the Jeep CJ, with full fenders, 33” tires and classic line. This is equipped with a 430Hp LS3 engine which is capable of adventures both on and off-road. The Scrambler is also available as a Soft-top, Hard-top and 2-Door version. Also, this is made with a mandrel bent fully boxed frame as well as Atlas transfer-case, Dynatrac 1-Ton ProRock 60 axles with ARB locking differential. Long travel suspension and air-bump stops are used to fit ones adventure needs.

The Dodge Carryal WC-53 is a rare and unique multi-passenger truck also available from Legacy Classic trucks in limited number. Each truck is handcrafted since it takes at least 1,200 hours to build. This is also powered by a 430Hp LS engine coupled with a 4-speed automatic. This comes standard with locking differentials and an Atlas Transfer-case.

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2.  Vortech BOSS F100

One of Vortech Superchargers’ booth vehicles is this 1973 Ford F100 done by High Octane Hot Rods. Owner: Jason Jones, On the Ground Designs. This truck is seriously looking like a Boss sitting still and laying frame. Under the hood you will find a 5.0L Ford Coyote engine, BOSS intake and Vortech Supercharger. Hard to find pieces and details were sourced from LMC trucks. One will not miss the massive tubs of the truck which tucks the B-Forged 595 wheels 22×9 up front and 24×14 rear. These are wrapped with Pirelli P-Zero Nero tires 265/30/22 for the fronts and super wide 405/25/24 for the rear. Sew it Seams from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania completed the truck’s interior. Audi RS4 Red Volker was used to complete the exterior looks of the BOSS.

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1.  1949 Chevrolet 3100 five window pickup

Under the bright lights of the Las Vegas Convention Center, showing with the PAC racing springs booth tucks a truck that really caught my eye, this is the 1949 Chevy 3100 five window pickup. At first, its rusted out exterior will throw you off as this seem to not belong with the big boys with their shiny paint schemes. But look under the hood and you will immediately know that this beast will blow your doors off standing still. The 3100 is equipped with a fully built 442 LS engine with a 4.125 Bore and Stroke using K1 Technologies Forged Crank and Wiseco Pistons. This also has a Trick Flow Fully CNC LS3 Heads with OE LS7 rockers and titanium retainers from PAC Racing Springs. All ARP hardware was also used in putting together the powerplant of the truck. The 442 was also partnered to a Tremec 6-speed transmission with Centerforce DYAD dual disk clutch. As for its low slung ride height, PAC-JRi Racing coilovers were used. The Red Steel wheels from Coker Tire really did set off the look of the truck – wrapped in Firestone Nostalgia Drag Slicks Wide White. Although it cannot be seen behind the wheel, stopping on a dime is achieved using Wilwood Six Piston Calipers with 12 inch rotors. One of the eye catching details of the truck was the TIG Welded Butler built “Bomber Seats” with custom leather enhancements. I also liked the squared tubing interior styling as well as the bad ass grenade shift knob. The rear end of the truck just shows off the old and new pieces that really set this truck apart from the others.  Eighteen glorious months is what it took to put this beast together, this 3100 deserves a spotlight under the bright lights of Las Vegas.

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Hope you guys enjoyed a little flashback of SEMA 2014.

Until the next one… Peace!

-jayson (@dayuumjayce)

FJ Cruiser Trail Teams Edition – Behind the Wheel

Behind The Wheel – Trail Teams Edition FJ Cruiser

It is not often that we at DaYUUM feature SUVs or trucks on the site.  But given a chance to get behind the wheel of not one but two Trail Teams Edition FJ Cruisers, we did not hesitate to take the keys and put them on some bump and grind terrains. The FJ Cruiser carries quite a bit of history behind it and is still considered one of the well-known vehicles in Toyota’s truck fleet.  So let’s revisit the times where things got started…

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One of the most iconic SUVs still considered today is the Toyota Land Cruiser – FJ40.  However, the FJ40’s family roots go back to a vehicle called the BJ which dates back to the 1950 4×4 prototype called the AK10.  This had a lot in common with the famed Willys Jeep.  The BJ was Toyota’s first 4×4 utility vehicle powered by a Pre-war B-Type 75 Hp engine.  The 3.4 liter six cylinder engine complemented the BJ’s light truck duties which also set the blueprint for the line of Land Cruisers to follow.

As proof of the B-type engine’s beginnings, it was tasked to cover challenging terrains in July 1951 by Toyota’s test driver Ichiro Taira.  The BJ trailed up Japan’s 12,388-foot-high Mt. Fuji. where it was able to reach the sixth checkpoint out of the 10 checkpoints on the trail to the top of Mt. Fuji. This was a section that no other motor vehicle had ever gone up.  Observers from Japan’s National Police Agency liked what they saw and placed orders for a fleet of the B-type trackers.  Government forestry and utility agencies took notice and filed their own orders. Eventually 1,300 units were built to fulfill the demand.

The recognition was a successful leap from what was to come Toyota’s way.  However, to give it a more appealing and fitting title after roughing up and reaching its feat at Mt. Fuji; in 1954, Toyota officials named it – the Land Cruiser.

As the B-series engine slowly evolved at some point – this slowly got phased out of production as the F-type engine was introduced.  By 1955, the FJ25 progressed – this was an F-series 3.8L 105 Hp overhead-valve six-cylinder gas engine.  The updated Land Cruisers quickly found their way to Venezuela, Malaysia, Kuwait, Jordan, Dubai and Australia, where it displayed its true capabilities in the challenging land conditions.  Around 1958 the Land Cruiser marked its debut in the United States. Sadly, in its first year only One (1) unit was sold.

The 1960s came with renewed engineering and styling bearing the iconic – FJ40.  The FJ40 had the now popular flat, white top, angular lines, wrap around rear windows and fold out rear doors.  It also featured short overhangs, an increased horsepower of 125 Hp, a three speed transmission and the introduction of a two-speed transfer case.  Clearly, Toyota was doing something special that from 1961 to 1965, the FJ40 was Toyota’s best selling vehicle.

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The retro FJ Cruisers introduced in 2005 carried quite a bit of resemblance to the FJ40.  Features like the white roof top, round lights and bold fenders were inspirations taken from the past.  Since its release, Toyota also offered a special trim each year called the Trail Teams Edition – FJ Cruiser.

Model   Year

Color

Quantities

2008

Iceberg

3200

2009

N/A

None   but TRD Package was released

2010

Sandstorm

1500

2011

Army   Green

2500

2012

Radiant   Red

2500

2013

Cement   Gray

2500

Now that you’ve been up to speed with FJ’s past, let’s go through what we got to drive around for a few days – these are the 2012 Radiant Red and 2013 Cement Grey Metallic Trail Teams Edition FJ Cruisers. Distinguished through the monochromatic exterior paint scheme combined with blacked out bumpers, handles, side mirrors and grill are sure give away features of this special trim. One cannot miss the emblem “Toyota” on it’s grill as it is the only vehicle in the Toyota fleet even in the past that carried the company name  instead of just a mere Toyota logo.

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As we excitedly debated where to take the Trail Teams edition rigs and also wanting to bring back the trucks in one piece; we decided to take them to Trabuco Canyon Road.  The trails were unpaved and rough but just enough to exercise the capabilities of the standard Trail Team edition truck trim. As we hit 5 freeway, I immediately noticed the trucks’ toy like features and bulkiness.  These rigs are no sport cars that will zig-zag in and out of the freeway lanes.  However, even with a curb weight of a little over 4200 lbs, the 4.0 liter engine prove to have an up and go in a linear direction.  The FJ is easy and comfortable to drive. Acceleration is quick for this type of vehicle; handling is balance and very predictable.  Both FJs’ are equipped with the 4.0 Litre, 24-Valve, DOHC V6 engine that produces 260 horsepower and 271 lb.-ft. of torque. This proven power plant is mated to either a 6-speed manual or a 5-speed automatic transmission. The trucks that we got to test out had the 5-speed automatic tranny.  This tranny set-up is the preferred choice for most buyers specially if when navigating through California traffic.

The FJ’s Dual Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i), where both intake and exhaust camshaft timing continuously adjust to readily deliver a broad torque band whenever this is needed.  This is also partnered with an advanced Sequential Multi-Port Fuel Injection system to  efficiently use the vehicle’s 72 liters of fuel.  The FJ cruiser also runs very well with just 87 octane fuel however for more demanding situations such as towing, off-roading and driving at high elevation, Toyota recommends using premium 91 octane fuel.

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The ride through Trabuco Canyon Road was pretty smooth.  I anticipated it to be loud and creaky due to the tire and suspension set-up used on the trucks.  The Radiant Red FJ had the blacked out 16-inch, TRD alloys while the Cement Gray FJ was outfitted with the TRD Beadlock-style alloy wheels.  Both FJs had their wheels wrapped in BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A tires (LT265/75R16) which were surprisingly quiet at highway speeds as well as when these were bruised and  abused on gravel during our test ride.  Double wishbone front suspension and four-link rear suspension with lateral track bar, coil springs and stabilizer bar partnered with some Bilstein shock absorbers were used in front and rear.  The FJ was also complemented with good wheel travel and 9.6-inches of ground clearance to provide that smooth-bump-and-grind drive.  In addition, I also learned that the rigs were also designed to have the air intake sit high on the hood which would make it possible to drive through substantial water hazards (though we don’t have the balls to try this feature out yet).

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The interior was designed to be simple and straight forward.  Steering responses are appropriate and the steering wheel feels fitting, where won’t realize that you’re driving a bulky rig.  There were quite recognizable blind spots as you sit up high which takes some getting used to. The exterior hue flowed in the interior of the vehicle where the seats were also tastefully accented. Ready for mud and grime, rubber flooring was used from front to back for easy clean-ups.  The instrumentation pod which includes a compass, outside temperature gauge and ‘inclinometer’ that goes on the dash is offered as an option for the Trail Teams Special Edition FJ cruisers. Shift knob levers were ergonomically designed and located for optimal driver reach.  The base model Bluetooth ready sound system was enough but could be improved for the daily drive.

However, all good things must come to an end.  Not that our test drive will soon be over but during the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show week, Toyota announced that the 2014 FJ Cruiser Trail Teams Ultimate Edition will be its final hurrah.  The FJ Ultimate Edition will pay tribute to the iconic Land Cruiser FJ40.  It will show off the newly developed “Heritage Blue” paint scheme inspired by the FJ40’s most sought after color.  And the front grill surround will also be painted in white.  It will also be equipped with a Race-inspired Toyota Racing Development (TRD) suspension which will be an upgrade from the 2013 Trail Teams Edition model.  A TRD stamped skid plate made from one-quarter –inch thick aluminum plate comes standard on the Ultimate Edition – improving approach angle and providing underbody protection.  The 2014 FJ Cruiser Trail Teams Ultimate Edition is scheduled to roll into dealerships in February 2014.

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Overall, the Trail Teams Edition FJ Cruisers were really fun and comfortable to drive.  I have been so used to driving low vehicles that the exceptional ground clearance these trucks offer was really a treat to have.  There were times that I would have mental lapses and angle the truck on speed bumps or inclined entry ways – when these are more than capable of running them over without hesitation.  The Trail Teams Edition FJs were not built to be rock-crawlers by any means.  They may be considered a poor man’s Range Rover or Land Rover but its price, safety, reliability and all-terrain capabilities are enough to satisfy an ordinary off-road trail seeker.  Even as we bid our farewell to an iconic vehicle, I do anticipate that the FJ cruiser will hold its value and continue to attract serious off-roaders in pushing its limits.

On a side note – we liked the FJ so much that we’ll be keeping the 2013 Cement Gray Trail Teams Edition.  We have some upgrades in-line that will enhance the bulky beast inside and out.  First off, for our daily listening pleasures – do we hear OEM Audio+

So stay tuned for the next one…

Peace! and  Merry Christmas to all! =)

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References:

2005 Dec. 19 “History of the Toyota Land Cruiser”. theautochannel.com.

2013 Nov. 5 “Happy Trails, FJ Cruiser”.  http://pressroom.toyota.com/releases

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