Imagined then Created: The Low-Down FJ Cruiser
The Toyota FJ Cruiser has always been a venerable weapon of choice for off-roading; Now imagine what happens when you take away the one thing it’s supposedly good at.
Quirky retro design cues aside, the FJ has been lauded for its highly functional departure angles, robust four-wheel drive system, and the A-TRAC system that makes short work out of loose surfaces. There is no questioning its intended purpose when it rolled off the Hino Motor* plant in 2006: to take its occupants off the beaten path.
*Yes, Hino Motor the truck brand is a subsidiary of Toyota. FJ Cruisers have been made at the Hino plant since it began production. The more you know.
With this idea in mind, the aftermarket obviously took to improving the FJ by mainly doing one thing: a proper suspension lift. Today there are various brands from all over the world offering various stages of lift for your intent and purpose; Such is the allure of the FJ Cruiser aftermarket that we can easily claim that the FJ is the Toyota 86 of offroaders.
But you see, there will always be some that would always ask the ‘what ifs’ for cars like these. What if it were slammed to the ground? What if it had an aero kit instead of bull bars and snorkels? What if those forged wheels actually served its lightweight purpose instead of being used to crawl malls? There will be many who would imagine, but few dare to create – enter the folks from Atoy Customs.
Known as the guy who handles the off-road/bodykit side of the business, Ton Llave is a familiar face in the local aftermarket thanks to the regular influx of clients at Atoy Customs. Having seen anything and everything go through their shop with regards to offroaders, he’s already pretty well versed with what works and what doesn’t with these cars. We could imagine though that while styling cars and fitting bumpers and kits would be ‘the dream job’, Ton ought to be pretty jaded with what he works with on a regular basis – it’s always the same damn combination of parts at one point or another. You could probably say then that his FJ is the result of building something just to set it apart from the rest: an Anti-Establishment build, if you will.
I’m sure you’re all curious as to how they got the FJ this low from stock. Apparently mixing and matching a set of Tein Endura Pro+ dampers to a KYB Xtage 40mm lowering springs (and a bit of trimming here and there) will produce this substantially dropped stance. Granted you can’t exactly make fender-to-lip work with the way the FJ’s fenders are shaped, but this is certainly much, much lower compared to stock.
Lowering the car and calling it a day just doesn’t cut it. We feature builds here that go towards a certain direction; Cars that have been built with purpose with a set of goals in mind. Now, while this FJ has been rendered useless as far as offroading goes it does somewhat lean towards an outlandish criteria for cars like these: going fast. You see, having a 4.0L 1GR-FE V6 motor under the hood gives the FJ the right amount of power and torque for puttering around town and for overtaking on dual carriageways in the provinces. This is something Ton felt could be capitalized with a proper lowering. With this build direction set, you will find some accompanying pieces that further add to the FJ’s performance:
A flow-formed set of Stealth Custom Series F5s have reduced unsprung weight while maintaining rigidity. Highway Terrain Falken STZs are mounted onto the SCS wheels with a conservative diameter and aspect ratio. No chunky mud-terrain tires found here. Covered by the all-black spokes a MaxSpeed 355mm 6-Pot Big Brake kit gives the 1,950kg SUV some proper stopping power to match its higher terminal velocity.
The exterior takes cues from how a car would be set up instead of a truck. Pieces like a custom chin with functional brake cooling ducts not only give the FJ more aggression, but serves a key purpose as well. The fenders are now made from carbon fiber to reduce weight, and a subtle ducktail carbon wing finishes the top end of the rear cleanly. The spare tire was also deleted to save some weight, while the bottom section has been treated to a one-off diffuser to make the truck look the part.
Engine-wise there’s not much you can do to the naturally aspirated V6 apart from basic intake-header-exhaust work and a tune. That said, this particular FJ gets a healthy 238 WHP and 343 Nm of torque out of 95 RON (Petron XCS) fuel with all the associated intake/header/exhaust work as well as a tune. The purpose of running 95 RON instead of 100 RON (Petron Blaze) would be for out of town trips where 100 RON isn’t available – again another detail towards functionality instead of bragging rights. The holy grail for FJ owners would be a supercharger kit, though those are very expensive and there are a few kits around that would work properly with the latter dual VVT-i models of the FJ. Something like that would definitely look right at home on this build though.
The interior is spruced up with a grippier Greddy steering wheel, but the true thing that takes the cake here are the pair of Atoy Customs highback seat conversions. You see, the other half of Atoy Customs caters towards the high-end vehicle upholstery/recreation segment (read: celebrities with incognito-but-fully-furnished vans). These seats are but a sample of what they can do to larger interiors, but they’ve managed to convert the stock FJ seats into a La-Z-boy-style leather seat – all while retaining the OEM base frame, armrest, recline, and sliders. Being an FJ owner myself, this was the one thing that I wanted to rip out of Ton’s car and fit onto mine.
Granted this kind of build is not everyone’s cup of tea, but while this FJ has been ‘bastardized’ Ton actually takes to trails with his trusty Toyota Hilux and sees no point in having two offroaders. May as well have one truck that goes fast and another that goes anywhere, right?
Words by Aurick Go
Photos by Jose Altoveros
2014 Toyota FJ Cruiser
ECU tuning by DTM Motorsport (238 WHP/343 Nm torque @ 95 RON pump gas)
AC long tube headers
AC Y-pipe with 2 bullet resonators
Catback exhaust system using Borla Atak Crate muffler and Borla Black chrome tips
AFE GT Momentum intake assembly
AFE Throttle Body spacer
Cusco cooling plate
Carbon fiber wide flares with OEM-style FRP Mudguards
Carbon fiber custom rear spoiler
Carstyle spare tire delete with CF accents
JAOS hood ornament
Custom front chin with brake duct vents
Custom Rear diffuser
Body colored roof
PIAA LP570 grille mount
PIAA LP270 fog lights
PIAA 6000k Led headlight
Detailed by Clean Habit Detailers
Atoy customs highback seat conversion with armrest
Greddy steering wheel
Basic sound set up by Jetcar Audio:
- Firland Separates
- Blaupunkt Amplified Sub
- Firland Amplifier
CAG OBD Info Display
Wheels, Tires, Suspension and braking
Tein Endura Pro+ shock absorbers
Kyb Xtage 40mm lowering springs
Maxspeed 355mm 6 pot bug brake kit
Falken STZ 275/65/17
Stealth Custom Series flowform F5 17x9 - 38
D1 Spec hub centric wheel spacers
Edit: Ton tells us this FJ is actually his wife’s car. How he convinced her to chop it up and slam it is beyond us.