Project Land Cruiser – FJ60 diesel arrives

After a five month wait, I picked up my 1984 Toyota Land Cruiser from TLC 4×4 in Van Nuys, California – with its brand new International 3.0-liter turbo diesel and new 5-speed Toyota transmission (see Overland Journal Spring 2008), and lots of other modifications and upgrades.

The engine-transmission combination has exceeded my expectations to a huge degree. The power is phenomenal, and the torque blew us away. Climbing out of the Los Angeles area out I-10 toward Palm Springs we were pulling hills in 5th gear and still accelerating. It is quiet and has no “diesel smell.” Throttle response is very quick for a diesel (especially compared to the 75-series Land Cruisers I am used to driving in Tanzania and Kenya).

The upcoming Fall 2008 Overland Journal will feature a 2-page update on this engine, specifications, and other upgrades. (Mailing later this week.)

I was lucky enough to head straight for Prescott, Arizona, where the debut first comprehensive Overland Certification Course was being held by the team of Overland Training; my husband, Jonathan, executive editor of Overland Journal, was teaching one of the course components.

I audited the first three days of the course, and was able to put the FJ60 through its paces – and blew everyone away with its performance. Something about that diesel engine and LC combination had relatively normal people walking up to my window with silly grins on their faces and then they’d make diesel engine noises.

Here are some shots of the first Overland Training overland certification course:

With front and rear ARB lockers, climbing a significant obstacle like this was a cakewalk (and thanks to expert marshall and instructor Scott Brady).

Scott explaining vehicle stability on a steep (24-degree) side-slope.


Throttle response/feel is so fine that navigating a rock garden was also an easy task, even with the manual transmission; the rear ARB locker and BFGoodrich All-Terrains aired down to 18psi also helped.

Full Old Man Emu suspension gives the 60 amazing travel on cross-axle obstacles.

The first comprehensive Overland Training course class, left to right: Jeremy Edgar, Toyota Tacoma; Brian McVickers, Land Rover Discovery; Kristina Hall, Land Cruiser FZJ80; me with Jorge Valdes, who came from Florida for the course and leads Land Rover overland trips in South America; and Dave Nordstrom, with his new Earth Roamer XV-JP, based on the Jeep Wrangler JK.

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