A CULTIVATOR OF LOVE FOR THE OUTDOORS
By Al Khoury
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Toyota has long been known for its reliable, long-lasting vehicles. The Japanese company began producing cars in the 1930s and consistently ranks among the largest automakers. Toyota cars and trucks are used for military, industrial, and civilian applications all over the world. The legendary Land Cruiser was born in 1951 and the brand quickly became famous for its off-road offerings. The FJ40 series was produced from 1960-84 and you can still find these trucks being put to work. Not wanting one of its most iconic vehicles to fade into history, Toyota released the FJ Cruiser in 2006.
This truck pays homage to its rugged ancestry, as seen in its grille, headlights, vertical windshield, fenders, short wheelbase, and more. The FJ Cruiser was produced from 2006-17 and sold in the U.S. from 2007-14. Grant Squires’ 2010 Toyota FJ Cruiser is Oloi’s next featured ride and a true testament to the venerable nameplate.
Grant’s Iceberg White FJ Cruiser packs a 4.0-liter V-6 engine that produces 259 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. Its four-wheel drive powertrain uses a 5-speed automatic transmission. The factory Off Road Package adds trail-tuned Bilstein shock absorbers, electronically controlled locking rear differential, Active Traction Control (A-TRAC), and a floating-ball multi-information display.
Grant is the second owner, having purchased the truck in 2013 with 30,000 miles. The clock now reads 139,000 miles. Grant has clearly put extensive time in the vehicle and has made his own modifications.
“The second that we got it, we started working on it,” Grant said. The mod list includes extensive cosmetic and performance enhancements.
On the outside, this custom FJ has: Trail Team handles, black mirrors, Bermuda Black IPCW tail lights, Lifetime LED 72-watt headlights, a Baja Rack Expedition Rack with rooftop tent mounts, a Tepui rooftop tent and awning, a Gobi ladder, an AllPro Bandi mount for the CB radio antenna, a 50-inch curved light bar, DB Customz light bar mounts, an LCNW tube bumper with Factor 55 fairlead, an RCI front skid, factory TRD rock sliders, a Warn M8000 winch with synthetic line, x2 7-inch LED spotlights, and x2 7-inch LED flood lights.
Grant upgraded his FJ’s interior with factory style switches for the winch and all LED lights, a billet shift knob in black, a Springtail Pet Barrier, 35 percent front window tints to match the factory rear tints, and an Alpine INE-W927HD Double DIN Navigation Unit, with the rear view camera linked to the screen.
This truck rides on Method Race NV wheels with Cooper STT Pro tires measuring 295/70/17, with Spidertrax 1.25-inch spacers all around. The suspension setup includes Camburg Uniball upper control arms, Fox 2.5 3-inch extended travel coil-overs with reservoirs, ToyTec Superflex rear coils with Airlift bags, and Skyjacker extended rear sway links. Take a closer look and you’ll also find Powerstop upgraded brakes with drilled and slotted rotors and an X2 Deep Cycle Battery.
“We have some property up in the mountains,” Grant explained. “To get our gate, we have to cross a small river. I did a SCUBA mod that extended all the diffs and transfer case breathers up into the cab of the truck so it doesn’t suck water into any of those components. The Factor 55 winch system makes recovery safer. I don’t have to worry so much about my family getting stuck.
“Inside I upgraded all the speakers. The Alpine navigation unit is great because it has all the fire roads and forest service roads mapped out. That helps us get through the mountains when we’re overlanding. This cool little company called Springtale makes dividers and rack options for inside the truck and I got their pet divider. It mounts above the rear seat and it helps keep my dogs in the back when we’re bouncing on the trail.”
Grant is constantly performing preventative maintenance on his FJ Cruiser, wrenching on his truck in the driveway.
“I make sure that it stays in the best condition it possibly can,” Grant said. “As long as I take care of it, it’s always taken care of us. We’ve never gotten stuck.”
What made Grant pick the FJ over all the other trucks out there?
“I come from a bunch of sports cars and modified smaller cars,” Grant said. “A couple of my friends got into off-roading and I decided I also wanted to get in on it. I knew from the FJ40s and FJ60s that the heritage was a huge part as well as the reliability. As soon as I got into the FJ Cruiser, I realized that it looked really big on the outside but was small inside. It has a short wheelbase. The manual transfer case system versus electronic appealed to me. All of these things make it more usable off-road than some of its competitors. It fits down deep trails where larger vehicles do not. The ground clearance is just perfect.”
Off-roading has been more than just a hobby for Grant. It has played a large part in his personal life.
“We usually go a couple of hours out to the Sierras and we spend a lot of time up in the Mendocino National Forest,” Grant said. “The Tahoe National Forest has some great trails in it too, with some beautiful scenery. When my wife and I were dating, one of my favorite places to go was out in the middle of nowhere and that’s where I proposed to her.”
The FJ’s high mileage comes as a matter of course. This truck goes over rivers and rocks and out to the great unknown. It’s also had its time as a daily driver.
“The tough thing about California is that all the cool places to use the truck off road are at least 200 miles each way from my house,” Grant said. “So the miles rack up just getting to a fun place. But for a few years it was my only transportation.
“Now I am rebuilding a salvaged Honda S2000 and that’s what I’m using to commute when I’m not on one of my motorcycles (check out Oloi’s own S2000 here). This gives me the option to give the FJ a rest. It’s been such a good workhorse for us. It’s nice to give her a break!”
Grant’s time with the FJ is uncertain. He has been teaching his wife to dirtbike and recently purchased a new Toyota Tacoma to haul the bikes around.
“This puts me in this position where I have this truck that brought me and my wife and my family all together being outside and spending quality time,” Grant said. “Now we have a Tacoma. I’m playing with the idea of selling it. I’ve talked to a few people who have come up to see it. I’m in no rush to sell it but if the price is right, I will. We have this new truck to make new memories in.
“If I were to keep the FJ, the next thing I’d do is finish the rear lift and switch out the rear shocks. Those are the factory shocks with 135,000 miles on them so they’ve lasted a long time! After that I might set it up for more aggressive off-roading. Probably some more armor so I can scrape over larger rocks without having to worry about damaging any components.”
Grant’s Toyota FJ Cruiser has brought the entire family closer together. It helped to cultivate their love of the outdoors.
“The whole reason we even got the land that now has our family’s name on it was because of the FJ,” Grant said. “My dad and I had always bonded over sports cars and working on cars. He used to take me out to Lime Rock to watch the races. Off-roading was new to both of us and he was hooked just like me. The trips to the outdoors became more frequent. The FJ put on the path to get this land which will be passed down for generations to come.”