The state of Nevada is commonly -- and officially -- known as the Silver State, in large part because Nevada is laced with a labyrinth of secret silver mines. We guess it's only fitting that a clean and functional late-model 4x4 that packs a secret would make the Silver State its home. And what secret would that be? Sorry, can't tell you yet -- you'll have to read on.
When Charles Bluth brought a clean '84 Toyota FJ60 to his home in Sparks, Nevada, his plan was clear: modify the FJ in a functional manner that would allow him to reliably -- and comfortably -- explore Nevada's beautifully rugged off-road terrain. The buildup of this Toyota was not without precedence; Charles had previously built a trio of Toyotas, including an '85 4x4 truck, and a pair of FJ40s: one a '75 model and the other of '71 vintage. With the FJ60, Charles had an uncommon 4x4 that was ideal for his project goals.
The FJ's OE front suspension is a leaf spring design, which makes for easy mods. The first major change was a switch from the OE spring-under axle design to a taller-riding springover style, which makes use of custom-built, 4-inch lifted spring packs. The rear suspension was also given the springover treatment and then was lifted an additional 2-1/2 inches with Old Man Emu spring packs that flex through OME greaseable shackles. A single Rancho RS 5000 damper is used at each wheel.
With the suspension lift installed and dialed in, Charles selected and installed the rolling stock. Weld Super Single II wheels were chosen for their classic good looks, their 15x10-inch sizing, and their inherent forged strength. Grip is provided by TSL's aggressive Super Swamper XS tires, which are a meaty 38x15.5x15.
Charles limited exterior upgrades, mainly because Toyota did such a great job with the '60s body that few changes were deemed necessary. An ARB Bull Bar front bumper is in place, fitted with a powerful Warn winch. The stock rear bumper was also given the ax, replaced with a slick K-MAR rear bumper/tire carrier unit.
As with the exterior, the FJ's interior is nicely equipped in stock form. However, Charles directed Sparks Auto Upholstery to re-cover the seats in a blue and gray motif and add a Tuffy center console, after which Reno-based Skyline Trim Center tinted the windows to protect the freshened interior from the sun's harmful rays.
For rockin' and 'wheelin', Charles had Circuit City's Reno outlet install a Sony AM/FM/CD head unit, which signals 1,000 watts worth of Alpine amps and pumps that power through Pioneer speakers. We almost forgot about this FJ's secret. Tucked cleanly beneath the Toyota's bonnet is a chunk of Americana -- the venerable small-block Chevy powerplant.
The '96-vintage bent-eight is 5.7 liters in size, was factory-fitted with all of the performance GM internals, and pumps out 240 hp at 4,000 rpm and 300 lb-ft of torque at 2,800 rpm. The Mouse is topped with a K&N-equipped, ram-air-style air cleaner, and an Optima battery energizes its electrics. Backing up the V-8 is a B&M-built 4L60-E automatic transmission. Danny Warden of Placerville, California, installed the four-speed overdrive tranny, which is shifted through a Lokar shift lever.
Reading through the list of modifications Charles made to his FJ60 doesn't truly do this 4x4 justice. In fact, the accessory and upgrade list is mild compared to many 4x4s that appear on the pages of this magazine. However, what matters most are the results, and by that analysis, Charles has clearly hit the jackpot with his FJ's useable combination of function and style.
The classic good looks of...
The classic good looks of Charles Bluth's Sparks, Nevada-based '84 FJ60 was functionally enhanced with the addition of an ARB Bull Bar bumper and a Warn Model 8274 winch.
The FJ's rear suspension was...
The FJ's rear suspension was thoroughly reworked, including changing the OE spring-under axle configuration for a springover setup. Old Man Emu leaf packs provide additional lift, and Rancho RS 5000 dampers keep the springs under control.
That's no Toyota engine stuffed...
That's no Toyota engine stuffed into the FJ's engine bay. Instead of OE inline-six power, there's the General's best: a '96 small-block V-8 outfitted with factory performance goodies and topped with a K&N filter. An Optima battery supplies the juice.
It's a snug fit, but the 15x10-inch...
It's a snug fit, but the 15x10-inch Weld Super Single II forged alloys and the 38x15.5x15 TSL Super Swamper XS treads tuck nicely into the FJ's fenders, thanks to a front springover conversion and a set of custom-built, 4-inch lifted spring packs.
Although a stock FJ60 interior...
Although a stock FJ60 interior is well-equipped, Charles Bluth added a Sony stereo, Alpine amps, Panasonic speakers, a Lokar shifter, and custom stitchery in hues of blue and gray.