Family-Owned And Daily-Driven Since 1982, This Toyota FJ60 Land Cruiser Earned Its Restoration
Photography by Alvaro Pinzón
You may remember Jaime Calle’s shop from a previous article on its Land Cruiser restorations in Colombia. He joined forces with Distoyota, a longtime distributor of Toyotas in the country to create the Restoring Legends outfit dedicated to extensive high-quality restorations of these beloved trucks, which have the full parts support and documentation available directly from the brand thanks in large part to the Distoyota connection. Such things come in handy, and beyond the correct parts and literature, it’s interesting to uncover the history of the Land Cruisers that pass through the shop. The truck pictured here for instance, was the first Toyota FJ60 in the city of Medellín.
To see this latest restoration I hopped on a plane to Medellín and caught the Toyota for a photoshoot just after it’d been OK’d to wear the classic vehicle-denoting blue license plates. The city’s Museo del Transporte served as a fitting and pretty location for a few shots.
More so than other 4x4s, it seems that the Toyota FJs were purpose-built for Colombia, and the FJ60 was no exception—the more populous families ussed the extra seats in the back quite often, and the more comfortable interior made these great rivals to the often pricier Jeep Wagoneer. The FJ was more popular thanks to its reliability, simple design, and cheap maintenance costs. A tank with extra seating instead of a turret.
Back in the year 1982, this exact example pictured was the first FJ60 to transit the rigorous topography of the Aburra valley in Antioquia according to the import documents—in other words it was the first FJ60 in this once-infamous city. Beyond that, it remained in the same family since new, as its current owner, Daniel Saldarriaga tells me. For 37 years he and his father have kept the Toyota in the family between the two of them, and since his father handed the car down to him in 2003, Daniel’s used it as his workhorse for nearly twelve years. A few years ago he decided it deserved a restoration.
The FJ had seen the family grow and age and multiply over the decades, and it became an honorary member itself somewhere along the way, as these kinds of long-term family vehicles are wont to do. The Saldarriaga family used it to travel the country, but it was also subjected to hauling heavy loads across the less-than-silky terrain of the more rural parts of the country.
As most FJ enthusiasts know, the 60 series was equipped with the 2F straight-six four-liter, and a four-speed gearbox with a transfer case. The constant complaint is that they feel quite slow with four gears—many say these old SUVs are made more like a good mule than a working horse—so back in the late ‘90s Daniel and his father decided to swap the gearbox for a five-speed manual. With no modifications beyond that, the car continued to see daily use. As time went on and the miles racked up and the rust started to deepen and spread, Daniel decided he all but owed it to the family truck to reset its clock.
Jaime at Restoring Legends has more than 80 Toyota FJs in his restoration history, so Daniel had no qualms about shipping it to the shop in Bogotá last year. Once it arrived, the truck was fully disassembled and the ensuing comprehensive restoration lasted just about six months. After a thorough shakedown, the FJ was sent back to Daniel in time to surprise his father at Christmas by presenting him with a vision he hadn’t seen since he bought it new in the early 1980s. Classic Toyota FJs and Broncos and Land Rovers have been enjoying attention from a new market of owners for the better part of a decade now, but no appreciation in monetary terms can compare to the sentimental value of this example.