Tag: TRD

Scion TRD FR-S Project Vehicle

In 2014, we had the opportunity to drive and capture the first ever Scion FR-S RS1 Turbo, well kind of. In actuality, it was a project vehicle that resembled the unreleased Scion FR-S RS1. In fact, the project vehicle inspired the current RS1. The work was done in partnership with Advanced Design Fabrication (ADF), Scion Racing, TRD, Toyota Technocraft, KMA Industries, GReddy, Techno Square, and Evasive Motorsports. Subtle differences sets the US Spec vs. the TRD Project Vehicle apart, the aero package are all JDM Spec. The addition of fender aero fins and the deletion of “TRD” from the rear bumper cover are notable differences.

The project vehicle also gets a bump from the 200HP to 400HP with the help of an upgraded Greddy Turbo Kit, JE Pistons, Carrillo Rods, with a MOTEC engine management. The suspension is an adjustable coil-over system also from TRD.

ADF did a great job in the interior with an 8-point roll cage, fuel cell, TRD gauges, and custom door panels. Seriously, you can’t touch this FR-S.

Let’s look at the details up close.

The rear bumper cover loses the embossed “TRD” that is on the Scion FR-S RS1

Fender Aero Fins really sets the TRD Project Vehicle apart from the US Spec RS1

GReddy Turbo Kit with upgraded Garrett Turbo

8-Point cage, TRD gauges, TRD seats, and custom door inserts.

Forged Volk Racing with Toyo Tires and TRD Big Brake Kit.

Additional goodies! TRD Dual Tip Exhaust, 3-piece decklid spoiler

You just do not get better than this!

Words and Photos: Denny H.

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

2015 TRD Pro 4Runner – Behind the Wheel

So much buzz went on when Toyota first announced in Feb. 2014 that they will be launching a trio of off-road vehicles that will cater to novice and expert trail junkies.  Typically, the SUV and truck segment of the automotive industry is heavily dominated by domestic vehicles.  With this announcement, it reawakened the off-road gods and goddesses as well as stints from Baja 500 and 1000 endurance races; Toyota  showed off the TRD Pro vehicles – the TRD Pro Tundra, TRD Pro Tacoma and TRD Pro 4Runner.

Toyota Racing Development (TRD) is an in-house hop-up / tuning shop for Toyota, Lexus and more recently Scion vehicles.  TRD accessories and upgrades are readily available to update a common Toyota vehicle with performance enhancements such as supercharger, big brake kits, and suspension components.  In recent years, it seemed that Toyota had concentrated its efforts to promote TRD components for the new sport compact baby – the Toyota GT 86 / Scion FR-S.  With the introduction of the TRD Pro vehicles, Toyota encourages an enthusiast to kick some dirt and be ready to discover uncharted places.

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With the current media demand, it took some time to get a hold of at least one vehicle from the TRD Pro fleet.   It seemed like everyone wanted to get the first crack on how these vehicles performed on and off-road.  Tagged with the phrase, “Let’s Get Dirty!” while aligning with the summer season, everyone in the industry wanted to put these pre-production babies to the test.  Luckily, the team was able to get a hold and go Behind-the-Wheel of the 2015 TRD Pro 4Runner.

The 2015 TRD Pro Series trucks only comes in 3 color pallets – Black, Super White and the all-new exclusive color Inferno.  “It  is the most-advanced yet in a long line of TRD packages for Toyota trucks that dates back to 1998 when the first off-road package was introduced for the Tacoma.”

The Super White TRD Pro 4Runner does have that intimidating front end and exterior.  It seemed to be really bold and unconventional which could be a love it or  hate it affair.  Some said it looked like a Star Wars Stormtrooper or as one DaYUUM Instagram (@instaDaYUUM) follower chimed in and said it looked like Bane from Dark Knight.  However,  it just slowly grows on you – as you get to appreciate the lines and overall outlook.  Also, the TRD Pro Series fleet are the only trucks that rock the unique front grille “TOYOTA” badge that pays tribute to iconic models such as the FJ40 and FJ Cruiser.  Additional blacked out TRD Pro emblems can be found on the side panels showing people this isn’t an ordinary family hauler. While on the rear end, you can hardly notice any distinguishable accessory aside from the blacked out lower bumper accent piece that differentiated it from an ordinary 2015 4Runner.

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To get a good feel of the TRD Pro 4Runner enhancements, the vehicle needed to be evaluated on and off-road. Surprisingly, the truck was very comfortable to drive through the city streets and highway speeds. Cracks, bumps, dips or any on-road imperfections were all trampled by the TRD Pro Series 4Runner. Weaving through traffic isn’t its forte due to its width and length, however it is more than capable with the use of its 270-horsepower / 278-lb-ft of torque 4.0-liter V6 (1GR-FE) engine coupled with a 5-speed automatic transmission.

The team decided to dust up the truck so we took it to Cleghorn Ridge Trails off the I-15 and 138. Joining in for the run, we also took a 2013 Tacoma Pre-runner (TRD Package) as well as the 2013 Trail Team Edition FJ Cruiser.

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Inside the 4Runner, premium convenience was incorporated to satisfy the driver and passenger. Entune Premium Audio with Navigation and App Suite, the Black SofTex-trimmed seats with red stitching, TRD shift knob and TRD floor mats were included in the TRD Pro 4Runner package.

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Even before arriving at the trail I was already impressed with the ride of the TRD Pro 4Runner. It wasn’t too stiff but just enough for the daily travel. I was more impressed as we took the truck to the trail – with how the TRD Pro 4Runner conformed with the rough terrain that Cleghorn trail served us. The TRD-Tuned Front Springs gave the truck a 1.5 inch front lift. This unique tuning provided decreased spring rate improving ride quality over the rough or harsh terrain. The front shocks also have a 1.0 inch of additional wheel travel and improved approached angle. It used 60 mm pistons and 18 mm shafts as opposed to the 32 mm piston vs 12 mm OE shock counterpart. The rear also provided a 1.0 inch of additional wheel travel. The addition of the remote reservoirs increased the oil capacity for efficient heat management and for more controlled suspension articulation. These were also beefed up with   46 mm shock piston which was 14 mm bigger than the OE shock piston.

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As we arrived at the trail, we also found some Jeep Rubicon owners getting ready to trail as well. I am sure that these trucks are more that capable to rock crawl as well –seeing their beefed up long travel suspension and bead-locked wheels.

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With its trail stands dialed in, the 17 inch matte black TRD alloy wheels wrapped with Nitto Terra Grappler tires (P265/70/17) were great complements for the suspension upgrade. The Nitto Terra Grappler tires were to my surprise quiet and nimble both in highway and trailing speeds. Also, protecting the front end of the vehicle is a quarter of an inch thick aluminum “TRD” stamped front skid plate with venting for the front differential.

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Some may recognize the 2013 Trail Team Edition FJ Cruiser as this was also featured in one of our Behind the Wheel post – Now comes equipped with an audio upgrade from OEM Audio+ as well as a few exterior and lighting pieces from Metaltech, Rugged Ridge. Warn, DigiDiodes and Fourtreks.

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There is an outpour of eagerness for the launch of the TRD Pro vehicles in the market. It is anticipated that give or take only 7500 units total will be released for the TRD Pro trio. Rumor has it that if you aren’t on a waiting list for the Tundra or Taco you might be the unlucky one who will not get a unit. However you may have a greater chance of getting the TRD Pro 4Runner that is due to be released next month September 2014. With what I have experienced during the few days driving this vehicle, you will not be disappointed. Be ready though to cough up that gas card as it gulps quite a bit- averaging 17.5 mpg on regular gas. Who buys an SUV for its gas mileage anyways???. With its menacing looks and stance, I really liked it a lot to the point that I was having separation anxiety as I gave back the keys. Overall, the highlight of this vehicle is the great engineering put in the suspension components / assembly straight from Toyota with factory warranty. The vehicle stayed composed on turns and rough surfaces at various speeds. It was a good balance that catered both On and Off-road duties. What did I expect from a well-engineered, tested and tuned vehicle from the experts of Toyota Racing Development (TRD)? Nothing less than exceptional.  So let’s dust it up going places and “Let’s get Dirty!”

Until the next one…. Peace!

-jayson

Instagram: @DaYUUMjayce

DaYUUM.com

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OEM Audio Plus + DaYUUM FJ Cruiser Trail Team Edition

There has been statistical evidence that the general working population today spends hours driving from home to work and vice versa.  A recent report shared by the U.S. Census Bureau (census.gov) highlighted that “An estimated 61.1 percent of the workers with “long commutes (over 60 minutes travel time) drove to work alone, 12.9 percent carpooled and 26 percent used public transportation.” For some, daily in-car travel experiences may also mean – meeting time, chow time, well I’ve also seen ladies use this time to put their make-up on.  For me, a means of battling the rigorous hours spent in-car driving is filling your private cabin with good music from various artists such as the Nujabes, Anuhea, or even raw mixes from Awthentik Vibes Vj – Dj Skitz.  OEM Audio Plus (O+), a company based in Anaheim, CA; aims to capture and enhance these daily travel experiences.

I was introduced to O+ audio system by a good friend Paul (@van_dayuum_paul), who had all of his past and current Scion vehicles equipped with the OEM Audio Plus system.  I have always been impressed with the simplicity of how the system integrated with the OEM radio and more importantly utilized the standard speaker locations.   One would not understand the motto that the company goes by “Clean, Crisp and Clear”, if you have not experienced listening inside a vehicle equipped with one.  The company started building systems for Scion vehicles however this year, they wanted to explore on non-Scion platforms such as the FJ Cruiser.  Last year, they have introduced an FJ Cruiser equipped with its first prototype system at Toyota Fest held in Long Beach, CA.  I’ve asked Paul, who’s good friends with the man behind OEM Audio Plus , Mr. Sandy Lirag, if this was true.  Sure enough it was confirmed; and they’re just waiting for the interest to build up.  With a few phone calls and emails, the 2013 Cement Trail Team Edition FJ Cruiser was off to OEM Audio Plus Laboratory in Anaheim, CA.

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The 2013 Cement Trail Team Edition FJ Cruiser I reviewed sometime in December 2013 had the very basic sound system – (a) Non-navigation radio, (b) a pair of 6 x 9 (inch) door panel speakers, (c) a pair of 1 inch tweeter-like dash speakers and headliner baffle speakers.  Music played using the Bluetooth radio always sounded flat.  With the volumes slightly turned up, the headliner baffle speakers would reverberate and distort the sound.  At times, keeping the radio off was the best option when driving the FJC.   The sound system of the FJC was the first thing that will be addressed as the vehicle will also be used as a daily commuter.  And recuperation and relaxation starts during the drive home with a favorite music after a good days work.

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After a few weeks of fitment, testing and sound optimization, the DaYUUM Project FJC is back from O+ Laboratories.   Now equipped with the OEM Audio Plus’ FJ REFERENCE 400CF Sound Solution System, we were excited to compare the before and after sound result.  The O+ REFERENCE 400CF comes with (a) pair of 1” Soft Dome Tweeter with a one piece aluminum baffle plate, (b) carbon-fiber cone 6 x 9 inch door panel speakers (c) an 8 inch subwoofer in special Trail Team Edition sub enclosure (d) Dual Amplification featuring the 8-Channel 32-Bit DSP power amplifier and dedicated subwoofer amp and lastly (e) Plug and Play wiring harness specific for the FJC.  The O+ team also suggested that  a pair of (JBL) speakers that came from the option premium sound system from Toyota be added on the rear pillar to complete the surround sound solution for the FJC.

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Eager to get some seat time on the FJ to compare the end result, I head over to Tom’s Farms for my first experience going to an FJ Cruiser meet hosted by FJC Forums.  Even before I hopped on to the FJ, one won’t be able to tell that the system had been replaced.  Utilizing the stock radio and all components concealed in stock locations aside from the subwoofer added on the rear were aspects that I’ve also liked about the O+ system.  It has that sneakiness to it where you won’t expect the sound that comes out.  But turn on the radio and one can tell that this was no stock system.  The cabin will be filled with sound that even a person with no knowledge about radios and speakers would really appreciate the music playing.  Turning the volume up or down will not make any difference in the clarity that you hear from the REFERENCE 400 CF sound solution system – highs and lows can still be appreciated with out any distortion.  As Mr. Lirag once mentioned; “When we say -Clean, Crisp and Clear, it’s about the sound, the way it installs and its seamless integration into your vehicle.

I definitely did not mind the traffic I faced on the 91 freeway on my way to the FJC Forums meet.  The music that you hear definitely influences your mood and the way you drive.  Where at one point while sitting in traffic, there was a moment where you’re so into a song (Everything has Changed by Taylor Swift if you may ask hahaha) with full facial expression and finger thumping – and you look out the window – a lady in the car next to you was full on staring.  It’s like straight out of a VW commercial -I don’t even want to know what she was thinking.  She was possibly just mesmerized by my irresistible good looks.  And so I cruised on to the 15 freeway and headed over to Tom’s Farm.

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At the meet, a good number of FJCs showed up to mingle, chit-chat, talked shop and new upgrades.  Being that the FJ that I brought was so stock and one of the cleanest one out there, it was a full give-away that the driver that brought it was a newbie.  Took a few shots of the meet, mingled and tried to learn as much from active forum members – Greg, Jason, Dimitri and few others who welcomed me in their little pow-wow.  As I drooled on some of the aftermarket and custom upgrades – I also start to visualize ideas that will be sufficient for the DaYUUM Project FJC.

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One vehicle that really stood out from all the FJs that showed up was this fully caged – Baja FJ. It was shared that this FJ competed in Baja events -did really well and quick in various terrains.

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Here are a few that really caught my eye –

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Need a panoramic shot – No problem –

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So as I drove back to Orange County, I realized a few things:  One, the OEM Audio Plus REFERENCE 400CF sound solution system was a needed and great upgrade for the FJC.  No more quiet drives or flat music to hear but a space filled with sound that is tailored to your own liking.  Special thanks to the O+ team for their superb customer service and catering to a non-scion vehicle.  Two, the lumpy looks of the Trail Team FJ needs to be updated so hope you stay tuned for upcoming enhancements that we have in store for DaYUUM Project FJC.

NOTE:

There are only a limited number of FJ REFERENCE 400CF systems made so if you’re in a look out for a plug and play sound system upgrade, please don’t hesitate to contact –

OEM AUDIO PLUS Incorporated

Tel. 855.OEM.ODIO (855-636-6346)

Instagram: ig@oemaudioplus.com

oemaudioplus.com

 

Until the next one… Peace!

-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

SEMA Show 2012 – Scott’s Pick

Attending the SEMA show is every motor heads dream of attending. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to attend this year’s show. One of the coolest things about SEMA is the variety. With the wide range of cars to choose from only one car at the show caught my eye. And no, it is not an Scion FRS nor, is it an Ford Mustang but a Toyota Corolla, but not just any old Corolla, it is a Orange Mango Corolla! My top pick of the week would have to be Patrick Ng’s 1973 Toyota Corolla.

Patrick Ng himself showing several awards from the famous Japanese Classic Car Show. 1st Place “Best of JCCS” and 1st Place “Best Toyota Corolla”

Graphtech Graphics high quality decals created Patrick Ng’s front windshield visor.

This is Patrick’s pride and joy. He built this car in his garage, even the 1.6-liter inline four twin cam engine was installed by Patrick himself.

A rare glimpse of the Toyota powered twin cam T-series engine.

Patrick took about three years to finally complete this build. Patrick is very satisfied with the work he’s accomplished throughout the years. “A lot of LOVE and a lot of MONEY made this car what it is today” – Patrick Ng

Matte Gunmetal Enkei COMPE Classic Series Wheels which are only prototype and will be available in the Spring 2013

Carbon Fiber fender flares from restored japan sets apart the orange paint from the rubber.

Here is a shot of the interior. New cars have “the new car smell”. Old Japanese cars have “the old car smell”

Some award winning pieces from renowned events.

Classic Japanese designing with smooth curves and elegant stance.

One of the first thing you will notice is the brilliant mango colored paint job. Hence the term “Mango Corolla”

All in all, the crew and I all had an awesome time. As I mentioned before there was soo many unique custom cars I was totally discombobulated to which to choose from! But in the corner of my eye this Orange Mango Toyota Corolla seemed to grab my attention.

Until next year, that concludes my topic for SEMA 2012. Big thanks to Patrick Ng and his beautiful Toyota Corolla for allowing me the opportunity to feature this as my SEMA pick! Peace!

Neils 81 KP61 – Toyota Starlet

One can’t deny the continuous and steady increase in gas prices.  No one can overlook the continuous decline of huge SUVs and trucks roaming on freeways.  More compact vehicles zig-zag through traffic and rule the city streets today.  It may be a cliché but likely “History is just repeating itself”; where smaller vehicles are just making a comeback run.   Honda Fits and Civics, Toyota Yaris and Corollas, Nissan Versa and Sentras, Mazda 1 and 3s are obviously the daily working-class commuters.  Even American manufactures joined the fray with such – Ford Fiesta and Chevy Sonics.  Japanese luxury manufacturers such as Lexus and Acura wanted a piece of the pie by introducing the CT200h and ILX.   You may have noticed that these vehicles mentioned have something in common.  These commuters are all front wheel drive daily commuters.

Turning history some 30 years back exist a front engine rear drive compact vehicle – the Toyota Starlet. Originally sold as the Publica 40 outside of US in 1973, it carried a 1.0 and 1.2 liter engine.  By 1978, the “60 series” or “KP60 ” (keeping the “P” code for Publica) was launched. This was a model that a few Americans knew about.  First introduced in the United States in 1981, the Starlet was described by Road & Track as the “commuter car of the ‘80s”.  The Starlet liftback was said to be “cheap to keep” because of its remarkable gas mileage of 38 / 52 (surface street / freeway) with its rear-wheel drive, 1.3 liter engine.   Although it had a brief stint in the US from 1981-84, the demise of the Starlet was due to the introduction of a front wheel drive platform line up of the Toyota Tercel.

In the midst of the uniquely styled cars gathered up at one auto show held at Anaheim Convention Center last year, I found the forgotten Toyota Starlet (KP60 series).  For some reason, I had sudden flashbacks and nostalgic vibes of the times watching Toyota Starlets rule short course slalom races in the Philippines.    However, I did not get to meet the owner at the event.  Luckily this year, I found the owner, Neil De La Cruz, through our DaYUUM’s Facebook page.  It still amazes me how social media works its wonders; after a few PMs and emails we’re set to do a shoot.

Neil’s KP is equipped with a 20-valve 4A-GE 1.6 liter inline 4 engine.  Due to its reliability and performance, the 4A-GE is a popular choice for an engine swap.  Aside from the swap, the Starlet’s engine modifications include Carbon-fiber valve covers, Walbro fuel pump, Volkswagen Scirroco radiator, wide band O2 sensor, relocated clutch master cylinder, stainless waterflow tank.  To complete the driving pleasures with engine notes – Techno Toy Tuning velocity stacks were installed as well as custom headers and exhausts fulfill the tuner’s ear sensation.  The engine management of choice to handle the KP’s load is a Megasquirt 2 ECU.  Delivering the power of the 4A-GE to the pavement is a T50 AE86 Corolla GTS transmission and custom driveshaft.

Dialing in the perfect ride height of the Starlet was not an easy task, Techno Toy Tuning KP61 coilovers and Eibach springs were used upfront while the rear suspension; TRD Springs, KYB short shocks and Cusco Camper plates were put together to achieve the ideal ride feel.  Affix in each corner are period-correct 13×8 TRD alloys that complemented the Starlet’s styling.  These were mounted on some 215/50/13 Sumitomos.

 

 The interior was furnished with authentic TRD bucket seats, Takata harnesses, Autopower 4 point rollbar, Momo deep dish steering wheel, 5” Bride Tachometer, Pinas’ third brake light kit, reupholstered dash, reconditioned weather strips and custom carpeting/headliner by Ernie’s upholstery.

 

Of course the whole KP build will not be complete without the exterior tidbits such as TRD fender flares and rear wing; JDM skinny bumpers for the front and rear.  KP61 Starlet S grille, Hella H4 headlights and the Porsche GT3 green paint by MGM Autobody in Compton, CA. will leave a lasting impression to anyone that catch sight of the Starlet.

 

After 4 years of ownership, having the first 2 years allotted to do the build -which started from a rusty red shell, Neil is now enjoying the fruits of his labor.  Having an older brother that worked on TE’s and AE86’s as a hobby, Neil’s driving experience on a Starlet 17 years ago definitely is a match made to happen… as Neil mentioned “I’ll be owning one and building one… the right way.

And I won’t disagree, Neil – you definitely did it… the right way.

Until the next one… Peace!

-dayuumjayce

Here is an awesome video by Photo M.D.

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