I consider myself a humble person and try to reflect this throughout all aspects of my life. My house isn’t a mansion. My furniture or lack there of doesn’t come from designer names or foreign countries. When it comes to cars there is nothing fancy there either. I’ve never owned a brand new car and nothing that has cost more than $5,000. So, when I began to think about what would be the ideal vehicle for running a race in Baja I took this into consideration. There has always been one vehicle I’ve been familiar with: the Toyota FJ-40 Land Cruiser. All my life my dad has owned one, albeit it has rarely been on the road in the past 20 years I’ve seen and heard the things that were accomplished in it. It has a reputation that is legendary and known throughout the world. A reputation that can best be understood in this quote:
“Yea, there may be more comfortable things that will get you there, but the Land Cruiser will always get you home.” — Richard Hammond, Top Gear
Home is my goal. Not to win although it would bring great joy and sense of accomplishment it isn’t what I’m striving for. For most of our lives we are racing to get somewhere or finish something. Finish school, finish college, get that job, get that big house, and buy that fancy car. It is amazing the things we begin to miss out on. We’re all guilty of it, even myself. This modern high-tech world is always fighting for our attention when there is an astonishing world God (or other deity/scientific explanation you wish to substitute as I don’t discriminate other beliefs) has created for us. It has been a wake up call that I should be enjoying the experience. There is so much to do, more than we could ever dream of seeing, and not enough time to get it all done.
Therefore, in light of this decision to be adventurous and take in the world I began looking for the vehicle. To Craigslist I went, weeding through those who were scams and those who wanted too much. I didn’t want a mint condition FJ40, I wanted something that had some character. If you are going to travel 1,000 miles through the desert one can expect to get a few cuts and bruises. Then, I stumbled upon something that caught my eye. An orange FJ40. Orange is my favorite color hands down and the seller wasn’t asking anything ridiculous $4,500. I talked him down to $3,500 and an additional suspension kit. Done deal. A quick tow across town and she was mine.
I’m not going to lie I had some buyer’s remorse. There is quite a bit of rust and the brakes don’t work, but then I realized it was more of a blessing than anything. It needs a full roll cage put in, which means the body is going to have to get cut up anyways putting in the tubes. Also, it still has the standard 4-wheel drum brakes, which are a pain to fix, expensive to replace, and the last thing I want to worry about when I’m out racing in the desert. So what is the good news? How about that it runs and only has 58,000 original miles. It needs a lot of TLC, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Did I mention it is orange?