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?


Rebecca said...

Ace Tomato Company= Spies Like Us. But it turns out, I am already your best friend. Ha Ha.

J said...


I beg you not to put any UN decal on the Cruiser for purely selfish reasons--when I borrow it to go up to Bear Lake I don't want to be shot by the natives.

(No joke, there are several permanent lawn signs up there saying 'US out of UN')


Carlos said...

Kramerica Industries!!!

Kathy D said...

Thanks for the answer, Becca - I got Vandelay (thanks to Costanza), Blackwater (don't you and Peter have clothing to go with this?), and Sheinhardt Wig Company ("not poisoning rivers since 1997"). But no on the Ace Tomato.

Mikki said...

Definitely Blackwater. That way, no one will mess with you on the freeway.

Heather said...

I think Becca would like a Dharma Initiative logo on it.

Jennette said...

I'm voting for Shienhart Wigs...with a companion I "heart" Jack Welch bumpersticker. I'll feel proud to drive that baby around!

Adam said...

My vote is for UN with a nice "Reunite Gondwanaland" bumper sticker to boot. Then I can take it up to Bear Lake for a spin so I can rile up the natives.

Jonah and Aja said...

thanks for the shout out. cruisers are better than burbs though hands down so i am glad you made the upgrade.

Andy said...

I vote for the Blackwater decal. Have you also thought of the Paris-Dakar decal as well?

Anonymous said...

I would be lost in all this if it weren't for my good friend Google. (Vandelay did sound familiar but I was thinking it came from Lost, see, told you I was lost.)

I was just thinking you should check out my brother-in-law's blog -- the current 2nd post down is about the camera holder he built for his bike. You might like it. http://thirstybob.blogspot.com/

Jim said...

Live a little and go with a Halliburton logo. Then take a road trip with the family back to Berkley.