Motoring | Reader's Drives

Ahmad Al Roum's 1984 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ60

There’s no better sight than a FJ60 Land Cruiser battering the dunes. Ahmad Al Roum has one of these rare beauties and he shows us how it’s done

  • By Imran Malik, wheels
  • Published: 16:13 January 23, 2013
  • Wheels

1984 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ60
  • Image Credit: Dennis B Mallari/ANM
  • "It’s an assault on the senses. It has got so much character."
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These FJ60s don’t just look great, they are  as hard as nails too.

If I had to drive through a brick wall, this is the vehicle I’d do it in. While studying in the US, I needed something that would work well regardless of weather conditions and get me to class on time. I trawled through the internet and stumbled upon this FJ60 for sale. I contacted the owner and a few hours later, I was driving it home with some traditional UAE music playing on the stereo! I think it was the Emirati side of me that pushed me to buy it.

You soon went about modifying it?

I wanted to follow a rally theme with era-correct modifications to make it look like it came right out of an Eighties amateur race so that’s what I did. I added some old Hella driving lights plus some ancient alloys from the old desert racing days and a leaf spring lift. It’s not in perfect condition and has some paint scuffs but it is scheduled for paint and bodywork in mid February and should look outstanding upon completion.

It looks pretty good to us. What do you  like best about it?

It’s unique. It’s rarer than your average old Range Rover or Nissan Patrol. I love the fact that all you see when I’m in your rear view is a giant Toyota logo that gets bigger and bigger...

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You always wanted one of these, didn’t you?

Yes, because they were the most pure in shape; it’s an assault on the senses. It has got so much character. Plus, I have a real reason to spout that old phrase, “they don’t make ‘em like they used to.”

They sure don’t. This is as basic as it gets.

Yup — there are no driver aids whatsoever, no ABS, no traction control, no airbags, no electronic locks and it has wind-up windows. The only luxuries available are AC, a radio, plus seat belts and that’s it. It really is a driver’s car.

Judging from the pictures, it has plenty of guts!

It’s not fast but it goes where you want it to; you need to drive it differently. You maintain a certain amount of momentum and learn to keep it in its power band, once the revs drop it takes time to get back up to speed. It was at that point I knew I had some work to do. Once I brought it back from the US, I made some changes. I had it desmogged, added a Ron Davis billet aluminium radiator with dual induction fans, a performance carburetor, ceramic coated headers and high-powered ignition as well as a five-speed over the old and tall US spec four-speed. Last but not least the Old Man Emu 2.5in lift to give it a better stance.

It must feel like a different car after all that.

It is much happier on and off the road now, I even get better fuel economy and there is less maintenance to worry about. I eventually plan to do an engine swap to a more modern fuel-injected 4.5-litre straight-six for even more punch and better response or a 5.7-litre V8 if the RTA lets me go that far.

It’s a firm favourite here in the UAE.

Emiratis love it; the elders smile at it because it reminds them of their past. I’ve had a few old guys come up to me and tell me they had one back in the day. The young Emiratis take photos of it and ask me if it’s for sale! My friends love it because it’s brick shaped and all steel, while my family thinks it’s quirky.

How often do you go off-roading?

I’ll use any excuse to go and then some. This car was born for the sand and loves every mile of it. I recently showed a modern FJ cruiser how it’s done when climbing up Fossil Rock. My favourite areas to dune bash are Fossil Rock, Faya, and the area next to the Sharjah-Kalba road. I’ve rescued my friends on a number of occasions; they drove cars ranging from Range Rovers to a lifted expedition-prepared Land Cruiser. I’ve also got myself stuck a few times; experience is the best teacher and you have
to learn from your mistakes.

Would you say you are a die-hard off-roader? You have the wheels to be one.

I’m just your casual off-road enthusiast; I have met some off-road maestros and I hope one day I can be as good as they are, but for now I’m happy with where I am. My passion started out at a young age. Both my father and grandfather were avid 4x4 enthusiasts so the love for all things with wheels came naturally.

What do you enjoy most about it?

The freedom that you get from venturing out far from any urban environment to the vastness of the open desert. You are not limited to the confines of a track or pavement; you forge your own path and leave nothing but your tracks behind.

You’ve got two other very desirable cars — we’ll have to feature you in My Wheels again!

I’ve got a 1958 Mercedes Benz S220 and a 1984 Range Rover Classic two-door but my dream car would be a 1969 Dodge Charger R/T with a 426 Hemi.

Profile

Name: Ahmad Al Roum

Job: Student

From: UAE

Wheels: 1984 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ60

In the UAE: Born and raised here

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