Sunday, January 31, 2010

Belting My Kids (into the Land Cruiser)

After our experience last summer with our Utah Land Cruiser, we decided that we liked it so much that we would get rid of our supremely useful Honda Odyssey and replace it with a Land Cruiser. My honey feels that she has better visibility than in the van, and I feel very confident that this is a safe vehicle for my family to be trucked around in (see here). After a lot of research, we settled on the purchasing an FZJ80. You can read lots more elsewhere on the Internet about the intricacies of Toyota Land Cruisers, but I'll say here that many people think that the FZJ80 is the best LC ever. It was the last LC with a solid front axle (and serious off road performance stock), but it also has a reasonably powerful engine and a luxurious leather (not Corinthian, unfortunately) interior. We looked around for a while and found a 1997 LC that was really nice. It had been well taken care of and had been well maintained. The difference between this vehicle and the 1991 FJ80 is remarkable. Although they are very similar, the newer LC feels like a vastly more modern vehicle. Funny what some extra power, leather, and soundproofing can do.

The one shortcoming of the FZJ80 relative to the FJ80 is that the newer truck came with only 7 seat belts rather than the 8 in the FJ. For most people, this is not important, but we seem to use the 8th seatbelt a few times per week hauling kids and friends around. Interestingly, the two vehicles' seats are identical--it's just that Toyota took out the center lap belt in the third row seat in the final years of FZJ production. My understanding is that this was done because the US government began requiring shoulder belts, and this would have required some expensive engineering in the final year of a dying model. After some detective work, I found that the seat frames in the third row are identical to the ones in the older model. So I felt confident that it would be safe to back date our LC's seats, and I ordered a lap belt set from . Unfortunately, there are no brown seat belts available anywhere in the Toyota parts network anymore, so I settled for a grey one. It bolted right in to the third row seat, and now we have a Toyota original third row seat that holds three people.

Here are some photos:

Folded up the rear seats and unscrewed plastic cover on the seat stand.

Here is the Grade 8 bolt that holds the receiver (the part with the buckle) of the left side shoulder belt. I will take out this bolt and use it to hold two receivers--the driver's side shoulder receiver and the new receiver for the middle belt.

Here's my little helper using ratchets and screwdrivers on anything he can find. Nice shoes, kid.

Here are the two seat belts with the one bolt passed through them. I didn't need a longer bolt--Toyota didn't even put in a shorter bolt when they took out the third seat belt.

I did the same thing on the other side, replaced the plastic covers, and Voila! Here's the finished product. It works great:

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