The Toyota FJ Cruiser has cultivated a loyal following for its retro-inspired design and formidable off-road capabilities. Though Toyota discontinued this model over a decade ago, the FJ Cruiser remains a popular platform for custom builds. Today we’re highlighting an ambitious FJ Cruiser pickup truck conversion executed after the owner’s vehicle was damaged during an off-roading mishap.
This unique build belongs to Noble George John, an automotive technician from Dubai who refused to part ways with his beloved FJ after the accident. With irreparable damage to the rear section, he decided to transform his FJ into a pickup by working in his custom garage. In this article we’ll take a closer look at his build plan and find out what does it take to perform such conversion in your own garage.
FJ Cruiser Truck Build – Parts Used
- Custom One Off Pickup Body Conversion (Chopped rear section of the roof)
- 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
- METHOD RACE Wheels MR304 Double Standard 17 X 8.5
- BF Goodrich KO2 315/70 R17 Tires (34″)
- SPIDERTRAX 1.25″ Wheel Spacer
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
- 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
- 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
Why Convert an FJ Cruiser into a Truck?
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, rugged vehicles like the Toyota Land Cruiser J40 Series were the masters of off-road, pushing the limits of what was possible – crossing seemingly uncrossable rivers and crawling over uncrawlable rocks. The Toyota FJ Cruiser, introduced in the mid-2000s, is the direct descendant of the J40 Series. It features a distinctive boxy design and close-set headlights much like the original J40 but with modern flair and sleeker lines.
Everything in the 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 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 the 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 the giant rear pillars greatly improves visibility, which is important for situational awareness in many off-road situations. The 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 “FJ 45” Bruiser, as the owner calls it, is powered by a stock naturally aspirated 4.0-liter 1GR-FE engine equipped with a 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 and pinion kit was installed. For increased wheel travel (2.5 inches) and better ride quality, the ICON Vehicle Dynamics Stage-7 suspension kit was installed.
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 the larger wheels.
NG mounted the WARN VR 12-S synthetic line winch on the front bumper’s 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 from 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.
Interview with the Owner
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 n FJ Cruiser 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 decide on overland style mods and Pickup truck conversion?
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.
Watch the progress and find out more about this Toyota FJ Cruiser project by visiting the Instagram profile of the owner: @ng_noble!
FJ Cruiser Truck Conversion How-To
Converting an FJ Cruiser SUV into a pickup truck requires extensive and complex custom fabrication work. While removing the rear section of the roof and upper quarter panels is relatively straightforward, recreating the rear portion of the passenger cabin along with the roof poses significant engineering and metalworking challenges. Moreover, the rear doors on both sides need to be merged seamlessly with the modified rear quarter panels. Fabricating custom bed rail caps to enclose the bed area and cover all the cutting points demands precise metal shaping skills as well.
In summary, transforming an FJ Cruiser SUV into a pickup entails highly skilled engineering analysis and metal fabrication capabilities. The modifications involve removing the rear roof, restructuring the rear passenger area and doors, merging body components, and custom building bed rail caps and an inner bed. Anyone attempting such a conversion should be prepared to solve considerable technical hurdles regarding structural continuity, aesthetics, functionality, and safety. The complexity arises from retaining strength while extensively reshaping an originally unified body and chassis.
Step-By-Step Planning and Design
Basic steps to convert an FJ Cruiser SUV into a pickup truck:
- Assess feasibility and create detailed plans drawings for all modifications
- Devise rear cabin rebuild, bed floor, and tailgate plans
- Design necessary structural braces and supports
- Plan aesthetic elements like bed caps, trim, etc.
- Remove rear doors, roof, rear windows, bumper, and tailgate
- Cut out the remainder of rear roof and upper quarter panels
- Detach hardware, wiring, HVAC components, etc in rear
- Build new rear cabin section with integrated side door frames
- Construct truck bed floor and tie to chassis
- Create inner bed structures – wheel wells, side rails, headboard
- Cover bed floor, fabricate custom bedside caps and tailgate
- Install fabricated cab and bed components, integrate with chassis
- Weld and seam new sheet metal to existing body panels
- Install tailgate hinges and hardware
- Refit components like wiring, glass, trim
- Seal/smooth all seams and welds
- Apply body filler and sand for uniform contours
- Prime and paint truck bed and modified areas
- Reassemble bumpers, lights, interior cargo anchors
Testing and Validation
- Assess structural integrity via shake down tests
- Perform watertightness and functionality validation
- Correct issues and refine build
The process requires extensive fabrication work to transform the rear while preserving vehicle integrity. Meticulous planning is vital before cutting to help execute such a major SUV-to-truck conversion.
Tools You’ll Need
Here are some of the key tools that would likely be needed to convert an FJ Cruiser SUV into a pickup truck:
- Cutting tools – Sawzalls, angle grinders, plasma cutters to chop the body and remove roof/rear sections
- Welding equipment – MIG or TIG welder & gases to fuse metal pieces and fabricate new sections
- Metal shaping tools – English wheel, shrinking tools, sheet metal brakes to form custom bed caps and other panels
- Lifts and jacks – To safely raise the vehicle and access undersides
- Frame straightening tools – To realign chassis after section removal
- Rivet gun – To attach new metal sheets/panels
- Cranes or chains – To remove and maneuver cut roof/rear sections
- Levels, squares – To check clearances and alignment
- Calipers, micrometers – For precision measurements
- Chalk lines, tape measures – To layout cutting lines
- Fillers, putties – To smooth welds and seams
- Sandpaper, sanding blocks – To prep surfaces for painting
- Paint sprayers and booth – To apply protective/decorative coatings
Some fabrication experience and engineering know-how would also be very helpful when attempting an extensive SUV-to-truck conversion project. The process involves intricately taking apart and rebuilding major body components.
Transforming a Toyota FJ Cruiser SUV into a custom pickup entails substantial modifications of multiple complex structural and aesthetic vehicle components which demands skilled engineering, meticulous planning, and precise fabrication work. Though removal of rear cabin areas is relatively achievable, fully rebuilding and integrating new rear bed sections poses significant technical and craftsmanship challenges for even experienced mechanics.
While an ambitious do-it-yourself undertaking, radically repurposing an FJ Cruiser chassis requires adept project scoping skills and access to heavy metalworking equipment to execute such risky modifications successfully. In conclusion, those looking to perform such modification should thoroughly assess their technical capabilities, yet as this project proves – it’s completely doable with the right amount of time and money invested.
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Matt is a professional mechanic, experienced off-roader, writer and founder of Offroadium. With over 15 years immersed in the off-road community and 100,000+ miles logged on rugged trails across the Americas, Grabli shares extensive real-world knowledge. He previously worked as an automotive technician before shifting focus to specialty off-road projects. His passion is prepping capable rigs for off-roading and helping others to build the 4x4s of their dreams.