Tuesday, June 09, 2009


Last year we (well, actually our good friend Jonah) bought a Suburban for our big family trip to the western US. It was cheaper than renting a car for the three weeks we were there. At the end of the trip, we left the 'Burban with my brother to sell it.

This year we are doing the same thing, and my intention this time is to buy a vehicle we will actually want to keep. We have lots of friends who could make use of a family vehicle for trips out West, too. So a few days ago, I found a 1991 Toyota Land Cruiser (know to Cruiser aficionados as the FJ80) online for a good price. The seller sounded like a good guy in my phone conversation with him, and he gave me his mechanic's number to follow up on questions I had. The bottom line is that I bought a vehicle sight unseen with only some photos and conversations to go on. Many generous relatives offered to go and pick it up for me. My sister and niece made the two-hour round trip to pick it up. My sister even floated the money for the purchase (I should probably send her a check, huh?). Awesome! The truck will be waiting for us when we get there.

The Cruiser has 235,000 miles. In my research, I have been surprised to learn that the old Land Cruiser motors have pushrods and are derived from a 1950s Chevrolet design. They are durable motors, if a little underpowered for the task. The FJ80 was a bit of a hybrid, with the "new" style body but with the old engine. My old Porsche 912 was the same thing--motor from the old 356 and body from the new 911.

The body has a little rust, but I will touch it up and frankly am not too worried about it. I will remove the brush guard on the front and try to take off the rubber strips on the sides. The biggest problem was the missing third-row jump seats. Fortunately, I found a guy online parting out a 1991 Land Cruiser nearly identical to mine. It had grey cloth seats and a set of jump seats. A few bucks later, and they are on their way via UPS. They need to be cleaned:

The most important task will be to do something to honor the white Land Cruisers that keep the civilized world in business. What do I mean by that? Turn on the TV and watch. Peacekeeping in Kosovo? White Land Cruisers. UNICEF in Mongolia? White Land Cruisers. UN Food Programme in Africa? White Land Cruisers. CIA and Special Ops in Afghanistan? White Land Cruisers. To really do this truck justice, I am going to find just the right decal to put on both doors. So here I need your help. Below are some photos I have found around the web of white Toyotas with cool door decals. What are your thoughts? What door decals does this truck need?

The plain jane UN Cruiser / 4-Runner / Nissan with black UN letters :

A British Cruiser in Gaza with the Union Jack and Emergency Aid:

A UNICEF Cruiser:

A UNDP Cruiser:

A UN Food Programme Cruiser:

Well, and here are a few that I could make into decals. They are really insider jokes, but they might get a few guffaws from impressed people. See if you can name these references. If you get the Ace Tomato Company one, you will be my best friend:

What are your thoughts?