Jessie Nelson’s father is a Midwestern farmer who doesn’t understand crazy California. He was especially worried when his only daughter moved to “the land of fruits and nuts.” To keep her safe, he wanted to make sure she had access to a fast, reliable 4x4 that she could pack up and get out of town in if need be. He picked up a well-taken-care-of 1984 Toyota FJ60 Land Cruiser. He quickly learned that while the Cruiser was extremely capable in stock form, it needed just a bit more of everything.

The carbureted inline-six mated to the factory manual transmission was heavy and slow. The suspension was marginal, and it needed way more storage and adaptability for his daughter. He was also hoping for some grandkids real soon, so he needed to find a way to encourage that too. He rolled the FJ60 into JD Fabrication in Escondido, California, for the builders to go through the whole vehicle. In no time, the engine and tranny were pulled, the axles were taken apart, and the suspension and interior was getting special treatment from the plasma cutter and welder.

FJ60s are already very well-balanced 4x4s, so it’s easy to screw up what the factory did right. Fortunately, JD Fabrication specializes in soft, custom long-travel suspensions and go-fast drivetrains. The FJ received a 430hp Corvette LS3 V-8 engine and GM 4L75-E four-speed automatic transmission adapted to the factory transfer case via an Advance adapter. The axles received ARB Air Lockers front and rear, suspension wheel travel nearly doubled, and now there’s plenty of storage to easily allow Jessie to disappear for the weekend, or longer.


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