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IT ALL BEGAN ON A FARM

I’m from Ivanhoe, NC, and I’m a machinist for General Electric Aviation. I grew up off-roading on a farm but I’d also work in the garage with my dad when I was little. I enjoyed watching him and learning from him when he would work on old muscle cars. On the farm, I’d ride 4-wheelers and older Jeeps, but this FJ Cruiser is the first build that I have ever done.

The entire build was created for fun, but also to be able to go camping and off-roading with my family. I knew that Toyotas were very reliable vehicles on and off-road, especially the FJ Cruiser. This was my first time owning a Toyota, once I went for a test drive I knew this was the vehicle I wanted to build. It needed to really be made for overlanding. I enjoy being able to go off-road to get to camping sights with my family. We all enjoy hiking and exploring new spots and being able to spend time together.

REAP WHAT YOU SOW

I had planned my build out by researching parts on the Internet and various forums keeping in mind the terrain I would be on and the load I’d be carrying. Also, I chose products that would be better suited for off-roading and that would be more practical for overlanding. I tried to do most of the work myself, but had to outsource some of the other work. The biggest challenge was putting it all together and organizing this entire build over the time frame of 4-6 months. I’m still not completely done as I change parts here and there, which all comes with the territory when you own purpose built vehicles. I find it extremely rewarding when you upgrade your vehicle and see how those parts come together to work on the trail.

Some of my favorite additions so far are the Long Range Tank that helps the Toyota go twice the distance; the RTT (roof top tent) that allows my whole family to camp together; the LED lighting that tremendoulsy helps light the trails at night; and the Viair Compressor for airing up the tires after deflating for the trails. The next major modification that I am debating is doing a diesel motor swap or adding a supercharger kit to the current motor.

PUTTING IT TO WORK

My favorite trip would have to be going to Uwharrie National Forest and the OHV Trails in Troy, NC. I was able to tackle the hardest trails there with the help of all the mods done to my vehicle. Old NC105, Linville Gorge Wilderness, in Marion, NC, are also great. I like that you can camp, hike miles of trails to see the river and the falls. Then there’s the beautiful Lake Marion and the fact that it all overlooks the Blue Ridge Mountains which is simply breathtaking when you see it in person.

Concurring Uwharries was the most challenging trail I’ve taken the FJ on, but I got through it with the assistance of my Warn Winch on the steep ledges. The rig was damaged when I leaned into the wall; I put a dent in the door and scratched the mirrors, door handles and rock sliders. It’s a very difficult trail and it had my heart racing the whole time while on it. I love that feeling!

KEEPIN’ IT SIMPLE

I like to keep things simple and writing down a camping list and always having a bugout bag of essentials ready to leave at any time for camping or for emergencies is a must have and what I usually suggest to others. I try my best to trail and off-road with other people and never like to do it alone as the “buddy system” is tried and true. Onboard, my head unit has 3D Maps, and I use the All Trails App to keep up with where I am, and where I have been. I also always have extra supplies and ways of communication in case something were to ever happen.

TECH SPECS: 2007 TOYOTA FJ CRUISER

WHEELS/TIRES:
• 17×9 KG1Forged K0200 Overland Series wheels
• 37×13.50R17 Fury Country Hunter R/T tires
• VMS Racing True Spike lug nuts
PERFORMANCE
• K&N intake,
• Doug Thorley stainless long-tube headers & exhaust
• Vivid Racing tune
• Long Range America, 30-gallon stock location fuel tank
• Mean Green high-output alternator
• 4.88 Nitro gears
• R1 Concepts, E-Line Series, drilled and slotted rotors and ceramic pads
SUSPENSION
• FabTech Motorsports 6” Performance System w/ front Dirt Logic 2.5 Resi coilovers, Rear Dirt Logic shocks and Dirt Logic uniball upper control arms installed by CDT Performance and Off Road (Fuquay-Varina, NC)
• Eibach Pro Lift rear coil springs
ARMOR
• Front Bumper: Expedition One Trail Series, WyoOtto
• Rear Bumper: Expedition One, Trail Series dual swing w/ tire carrier and ladder
• Water cans & Hi-Lift jack
• Warrior Products – side plate kit & rear corners
• All-Pro rock sliders
EXTERIOR/INTERIOR MODS
• Full custom color change by Roxboro Auto Body
• RK Sport Ram Air extractor hood
• Roadwire leather seats w/ matching custom stitch headliner and door panel inserts by Upholstery 1 Trim Shop (Wilmington, NC)
• Getta Grip Vans Waffle shifter
LIGHTING
• DB Customz LED curved bar pillar mounts & cowl brackets
• 3” RBP square LED light pods
• 52” Amber/White dual function LED bar
• 30” Amber/White dual function LED bar
• (12) RMP rock lights
• ANZO USA black projector headlights w/ halos
• ANZO USA black LED corner lights
• ANZO USA smoked LED Tail lights
RECOVERY GEAR
• 20’ Long, 7/8” Bubba Rope
• Warn Winch VR Evo 10-S
• Demon Hooks by Ami Styling
• Gen-Y Mega Duty 10K drop hitch
• KC Actiontrax recovery boards
GEAR STORAGE, ORGANIZATION, ROOF RACK, BED RACK
• Cargo-Ease drawer system locker
• Prinsu roof rack w/ Tacoma twins paracord handles
ELECTRONICS, COMMUNICATION, IN-CABIN ACCESSORY MOUNTS
• 67 Designs phone holder
• Orange Boxx Fabrication, PSD molle systems
• Orange Boxx Fabrication, paracord grab handles
• Orange Boxx Fabrication, full rear door
fold down table w/ cutting board wood
AUDIO, MULTIMEDIA, ENTERTAINMENT ELECTRONICS
• Insane Audio FJ1001 head unit w/ navigation & 3D maps
• Wicked C.A.S. 2, 10” passenger side enclosure sub box
• Wicked C.A.S. fiberglass A-pilar 3-way speaker pods, plus rear pods
• XMA-4250IR amplifiers
• XMA-800D amplifier
• (2) 2XL-1040D subwoofers
• (2) SWX-10G grilles
• 2XL-63.3C 3-way component system
• 2XL-63C 2-way component system
• All Powerbass XWS and XRCA connections
CAMPING GEAR
• CVT tent, Mt. Rainier EV Summit hybrid tan tent, w/ extended fly
• CVT tent, 79” Summit Hybrid tan awning
• CVT tent, UFO Solar Light w/ speaker
• CVT tent, Trasharoo
• ENO Doublenest hammock
MISCELLANEOUS GEAR
• Viair 2on2 bolt-on platform high- pressure compressor
• H3R Performance fire extinguisher
• VMA Racing Mojave bullet-style antenna