Most people seem to forget the true purpose of SUVs. Today, the majority of crossovers never get off the paved streets. Back in the day, such rugged vehicles like the Toyota Land Cruiser J40 Series were the masters of the off-road pushing the limits of what possible crossing seemingly uncrossable rivers and crawling uncrawlable rocks. The Toyota FJ Cruiser introduced in the mid-2000s is the direct descendant of the J40 Series featuring a distinctive boxy design and close-set headlights much like the original J40 but with the modern flair and sleeker lines.
Everything in a New Cruiser screams “off-road.” It is a vehicle of choice for many overland adventure enthusiasts known for its unbeatable toughness and durability. The FJ Cruiser truly shines when you go off the beaten track with its high ground clearance, robust suspension, and unstoppable horsepower under the hood. Those were some of the reasons why Noble George John from Dubai chose this model as his desert toy. With plenty of space to play with, he decided to push it to the limit, and he found one on one of the steepest sand dunes in the UAE desert. The short wheelbase and high center of mass played their role and his beloved FJ Cruiser rolled.
“ The short wheelbase and high center of mass played their role and his beloved FJ Cruiser rolled”
But this unfortunate event opened a door for new possibilities for NG. He could finally make his old dream come true and convert his SUV into a rugged off-road pickup truck while correcting some of the flaws of the original design at the same time. For example, removing giant rear pillars greatly improves visibility, which is important for surrounding awareness in many off-road situations. Aluminum bed cover, roll cage and curved rear windows were custom made.
“removing giant rear pillars greatly improves visibility, which is important for surrounding awareness in many off-road situation”
The JF 45 Bruiser, as the owner calls it, is powered by a stock naturally aspirated 4.0-liter 1GR-FE engine equipped with performance Airaid intake and TJM Airtec snorkel kit. The airflow is further increased thanks to a 5.7L 3URFE Throttle Body, Doug Thorley Headers, and TRD Exhaust System. To deliver the added horsepower to the wheels, the 4.56 NITRO Ring & Pinion kit was installed. For increased wheel travel (2.5″) and better ride quality, the ICON Vehicle Dynamics Stage-7 Suspension Kit.
The rig is running on matte black METHOD RACE Double Standard Off-road Wheels (MR304 17×8.5) wrapped in BF Goodrich KO2 315/70 R17 Tires. SPIDERTRAX 1.25″ Wheel Spacers had to be used to accommodate larger wheels.
NG mounted the WARN VR 12-S Synthetic Line Winch on the front bumper plastic replacement winch plate and put on the HOWLING MOON Roof Top Tent for extended trips. But the best thing after a hot day in the desert is drinking a cold beverage out of the SnoMaster Low Profile Series (LP66) Fridge/Freezer snugly fitted into the truck bed. The needed power for the fridge and exterior VISION-X lighting is provided by the secondary TROJAN Trillium 92AMP Lithium ION Battery and managed through the REDARC Manager 30 system.
How did you become interested in off-roading?
– Been going out with my Dad from a younger age and loved getting away from the busy life
Why did you choose this particular model for your project?
– Bought this back in 2009 and been my desert toy till I rolled it in desert 2016 end. Repaired it and wasn’t using it much as the Ford Raptor became the Desert toy and the FJs got that sentimental value. The thought process of a pickup build started at 2018 and finally it did the first cut in 2019 Feb.
What inspired you to choose this modification style?
– After the roll over the FJ was parked most of the time and then the overland bug bit me. Used to see the FJ 45 Pickups a lot and thought why not a FJ Cruiser pickup as the FJ Cruiser is derived from the 40 Series. Most of the pickup conversions on the FJ was keeping the second row and the bed area was almost useless. The Pickup conversion became more of a practical choice for keeping the tent much lower to reduce the drag. With the 35″ tires and 3″ lift kit, the overall height is below 2.15 meters which clears most of the Tree branches and Underground Parking Spaces.
What do you love about your vehicle?
– The OEM Lockers which gets me out most of the situations, Fridge for those cold drinks and the tent to sleep after a long night.
Is it your daily or a weekend ride?
– I have 4 other vehicles and a bike but after the pickup build I take it most of the days out and weekends.
Do you take it off road? If so, where and how often?
– Yes, Most of the weekends.
Me and 3 of my friends planned of doing a long trip this March 2020 to IRAN, Armenia, Georgia, Turkey, Azerbaijan and back with the FJ and my friends land cruiser. But due to Pandemic situation the trip was cancelled. Looking forward to a long overland trip with this baby, until then small trips in and around the country.
2009 Toyota FJ Cruiser
– 1GRFE 4.0L NA Stock Motor
– AIRAID Intake
– TJM Airtec Snorkel
– 5.7L 3URFE Throttle Body
– Doug Thorley Headers
– TRD Exhaust
– 4.56 NITRO Ring & Pinion
Lift height and suspension modifications
– ICON Vehicle Dynamics Stage-7 (BILLET) Suspension Kit
– Front 2.5 Extended Travel Remote Reservoir Shocks with CDCV
– IVD Billet Upper Control Arms with Delta Joint
– TP Billet Aluminium Front SwayBar Relocation Bracket
– TP Front Extended Bumpstops
– Front Spindle Re-inforcement
– Rear ICON V.S. 2.5 Series Remote Reservoir Shocks with CDCV
– IVD Billet Aluminium Rear Adjustable Upper Control Arm
– IVD Billet Aluminium Rear Adjustable Lower Control Arm
– IVD Adjustable Rear Track Bar
– METHOD RACE Wheels MR304 Double Standard 17 X 8.5
– BF Goodrich KO2 315/70 R17 Tires
– SPIDERTRAX 1.25″ Wheel Spacer
– Custom One Off Pickup Body Conversion
– Custom Acrylic Rear Quarter Glass
– Custom Rear Glass
– Aluminium Roof/Bed Cage
– Custom Aluminium Bed Cover
– HOWLING MOON Roof Top Tent
– WARN VR 12-S Synthetic Line Winch Mounted on Front Bumper Plastic Replacement Winch Plate
– REDARC Manager 30
– REDARC Dual Battery Isolator
– TROJAN Trillium 92AMP Lithium ION Secondary Battery
– GARMIN Overlander GPS
– ARB LINX System
– ARB Dual Piston Compressor
– SNOMASTER Low Profile Series (LP66) Fridge/Freezer
– Rear Fridge Slider
– Rear Cargo Slider
– CAR BUILDERS Sound Deadener
– HPRC Storage Cases
– Alcantara Steering Wheel
– Custom Stitched Roof Liner and Seats
– Weathertech Floor Mats
– Custom Fiberglass Interior Panels
– Custom Rear Fiberglass Bed Panel Molding
– ARB X TRED PRO Recovery Board
– VISION-X 40″ SHOCKER LED Roof Light Bar
– VISION-X VL-Series Front Driving Lights with Amber Lens Cover
– VISION-X Rear 3.0″ Square CG2 Multi LED Light
– VISION-X LED Rock Lights
Watch the progress and find out more about this Toyota FJ Cruiser project by visiting the Instagram profile of the owner: @ng_noble!
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Automotive journalist and technical writer at Offroadium.com with more than 10 years of experience in the sphere of aftermarket parts and 4×4 vehicle modifications. Passionate about off-roading, outdoor adventures, and an active lifestyle.