The Toyota Land Cruiser HZJ is an icon in the offroad scene, used all over the world. Living the life of a workhorse, usually the cars are used until they are fully worn out. At FD 4x4 Centre we had the chance to restore one of them, an opportunity for us to give this model the credit and honour it deserves!
The HZJ75 4.2L diesel is the most simple version of this pickup, the first edition. Tough as nails and ready for everything you throw at it. It can be repaired with a hammer and a piece of iron, it’s that simple. Rigid axles, leaf springs and the beautiful 4.2L 1HZ diesel engine make this vehicle to the practical ‘go everywhere’ tool it has proven to be.
You can find hundreds of thousands of pickups like this one, all over Africa, Russia and Asia. With parts available almost everywhere, every bush mechanic knows these vehicles. A wheel bearing or leaf spring are easy to replace or improvise locally. The HZJ is the vehicle that brought reliable mobility to the most remote areas of our planet.
For us it was an honour to restore this vehicle. We stripped it completely and simply started at the beginning with the rebuild. Evaluating the quality of each and every part, repairing and replacing where needed we brought this old HZJ75 back to life. The result might even be better than new, with beautiful original details and special improvements for everyday comfort.
‘After disassembly we started with the chassis and the body,’ says Jeffrey van Houten, who is responsible for the workshop. ‘After a good clean the chassis turned out really well, it survived its previous life without much damage. The body and the panels were a different story, with repairable rust on the sills and the doors. Luckily we could source a good replacement for the tray, it was beyond repair!’
Renowned for its reliability and smoothness the 1HZ engine is a beautiful piece of engineering. We checked and overhauled the complete drivetrain giving the vehicle a fresh start. Adding a turbo and a special fuel pump brings the 1HZ engine to life. ‘A turbo is a game changer for the HZJ,’ says Toine Daams, responsible for the mechanical work on the vehicle. ‘It transforms the engine and adds power where you need it. The original 1HZ can be quite slow, but it is overbuild and can handle a little extra just fine.’
With the classic leaf springs the suspension requires attention. Even a leaf sprung car can be comfortable, if you choose the right components. We choose a set of OME springs and shock absorbers suited for the intended use, aimed at everyday comfort. As a bonus, the new suspension creates space for our special heavy duty wheels and awesome BFG All-Terrain KO2 tires. They are the finishing touch and give the HZJ the right look.
The short cabin of the HZJ75 can be a puzzle as space is limited. There is enough room for (almost) three passengers, but don’t think about bringing extra luggage. We used a new OEM driver seat and 1-1/2 bench for comfort and maximum space. The dash has been refurbished and the inner lining replaced with original parts. Now you step into a brand new ’90s Toyota: basic, tough and with everything you need. It is a practical interior, suitable for work.
‘Just look at the finished vehicle,’ says Jeffrey. ‘It looks fantastic, and drives really well with the new suspension and turbo engine. This is one tough pickup, you feel it, you can see it.’ Having done all the work on this car with our own hands, in our own workshop we are proud of the final result: it is an honourable job for a car that deserves it!