Vintage 4x4s Are Hot With Collectors

If you happened to catch any of the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction coverage this year you probably noticed that vintage 4x4s like Dodge Power Wagons, Toyota Land Cruisers and K5 Blazers are becoming hot commodities. It’s not surprising, because they are relatively easy to restore and modify, and pretty fun to drive when you’re finished.

Samy Kamienowicz from Los Angles had a very nice 1988 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ62 that had an older Corvette engine transplant and could no longer pass the CA emissions standards. He had three choices: junk it; replace the original six and find the related emissions equipment, or install a 50-state emissions-legal Chevrolet 420hp LS3 E-ROD engine package. Thankfully he selected the E-ROD option and Speed Revolutions was there to capture the total makeover. We named it Project Land Bruiser.

What started out as a basic engine removal and replace escalated to a full frame-off build. The chassis was sandblasted, reinforced and epoxied. New Eaton leaf springs suspended a Dana 60 rear with custom disc brakes and a Dana 44 front axle. The E-ROD package from Scoggin-Dickey Chevrolet included nearly everything required for the swap including a 4L65E transmission, drive-by-wire throttle assembly and catalytic converters. Mike Shafer of Unique Hot Rods ( performed all of the custom fabrication and assembly.

Project Land Bruiser (as we affectionally call it) turned out to be one of our most successful project vehicles. It is scary fast, extremely capable off road and virtually bulletproof in the drivetrain department. Look for the upcoming 3-part build series on this very desirable FJ that was just appraised for $125K!


Words: Len Emanuelson    Photos: Randy Lorentzen

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