Friday, January 2, 2015

Project FJ: Sluggish Progression

The blog posts on Project FJ are slow because the progress on Project FJ is slow. Wheels were ordered within the first week of ownership, but there had not been any further purchases until this past week. 

The odometer currently sits at 3,300+ miles. I drive this truck every day, so I have a good feel for it. I am confident and feel as though I know of what it is capable, as well as what it is not. No, this is not a sports car, but that is irrelevant. That awareness and intimacy was something a bit foreign to me with my other projects. Do not get me wrong, I knew them quite well (especially the Z33), but there is a certain familiarity that comes with driving the same vehicle day in and day out that quite simply is not there when the vehicle scarcely logs double-digit mileage each month. It is a simple certainty: knowing a vehicle is driving that vehicle.

When I look at the FJ in its current state I am not blown away. One of the universal sentiments of car enthusiasts states that when you park the car, get out, and walk away, there is something wrong if you do not, at the very least, turn around to take a quick glance at it. This snap by SlowNSerious Photography sums up that notion quite accurately. (It also makes me hate myself for selling the FD!)

I do not turn and glance at the FJ. Perhaps that is because it presently looks like every other FJ on the road. Perhaps it is because the FJ, by nature, is not an exceptionally "sexy" vehicle. Perhaps it is because there are certain aesthetic elements about the truck that I do not particularly like. The good thing about this? It can be remedied. It will be remedied. One of the initial draws to this vehicle for me is the aftermarket support. These trucks can look great with the proper modifications. Not great in the same way a GT-R, NSX, or Supra look great, but great in its own realm. I have had the truck for a couple months and I have been researching suspension components from the day I took delivery of it... 

Two inches or three inches? Three inch suspension lift with a one inch body lift? Six inch lift? Shocks? Coils? Spacers? 

The possibilities are endless. I have researched on forums and different websites and I have had quite a few lengthy e-mail exchanges with representatives from different companies. That said, I have finally made my decision and will be placing an order for a 3" lift kit within the next few days. I opted to go for the ToyTec Boss Suspension System.

It is a bit out of the price range in which I was hoping to stay, but I do not believe I will have any regrets. After spending this much time reading and researching, I believe this kit will be ideal for me. I am okay with spending a few extra dollars for quality. From the ToyTec website:
Designed for the best overall ride comfort and performance in mind, this complete lift kit is the best lift on the market. 
ToyTec’s new BOSS front coilover is designed with a larger 5/8” Nitro steel shock shaft which is much more corrosion resistant than chrome plating and is valved specific to your Toyota. This improves overall handling and performance. The threaded Clear-Blue Chromate zinc plated steel shock body is adjustable from 0-3” of front lift height and can be fine tuned to level your truck side to side and front to back. The shocks have a 200 psi gas charge and each shock is dyno’d before it is shipped.
Upper mounts and adjustment rings are machined from 6061-T6 Billet aluminum and are then anodized black to prevent corrosion. Long handled TIG welded spanner wrenches are included for easy adjustment.
We only use Eibach springs for our coilovers which means you have the best name and quality in the business supporting your vehicle.

I opted for the Heavy Duty rear springs as I ordered a rear bumper with spare tire carrier that will add some weight to the rear of the truck. I also opted to upgrade the upper control arms at this time. ToyTec offers a package deal with Light Racing UCA's to save a few dollars. In doing some research, I learned that Light Racing is actually SPC. I have never really been a fan of SPC products, so I am going with the uniball upper control arms from ICON Vehicle Dynamics.

Wheels and suspension components sorted out, tires are next! I have spent hours on the tire size conversion calculators and tire websites trying to see who offers what in what sizes. Tedious. However, I have figured out what I am going to be running for tires. I am going with the new all-terrain rubber from BF Goodrich - All-Terrain T/A KO2.

Quite similar in appearance to the T/A KO, this new tire boasts of tougher sidewalls and longer tread life. We shall see. I had a set of the originals on an older Chevy Tahoe a few years back and I had no complaints. The aggressive tread pattern and street drivability are the aspects of this tire that appeal most to me. I also like the fact that the newer model seems a bit less "squared" than the original. Here are a few comparison shots of the KO and the KO2. (Credit: Discount Tire)

I have purchased a few other parts for the FJ over the last week, but nothing too crazy. I think suspension and tires is where I will leave off for now. I will be sure to post another update once some further progress is made. 

I will close this post by saying that I have not seen one particular FJ that has made me say, "Yes! That is exactly how I want mine to look!" There are certain aspects of different FJ's out there that appeal to me, but no single truck has stuck out as sole aspiration. I believe that to be a good thing. Originality is a big part of modifying. I am hoping this project turns out to be a completely original work of [rugged] art. It will be different. Sadly, I am not modifying a sports car at this time, but nonetheless, I do look forward to sharing this project with the readers of JDMphasis. Thank you and stay tuned…

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