The 2023 SEMA show is almost here, and once again, Toyota is bringing a custom-built pickup truck to dominate the show floor. Coming from the same team that brought the Tacozilla camper is an altogether more retro build, and easily one of the most extreme 40-series Toyota Land Cruisers ever built. It’s called the FJ Bruiser, and it’s a mad crawler powered by a NASCAR V8.
The project was recently outlined in a video on Toyota USA’s YouTube channel, which shows the beginnings of the truck coming together. Toyota’s team at its motorsports tech center sourced a 1966 FJ45 pickup, one that was in rough shape and ready for rehabilitation. Because team manager Marty Schwerter was hesitant to cut up its rare ladder frame, his team instead decided to build the truck a tube chassis to maximize durability. It’ll certainly need that, given what’s under the hood.
Despite aiming to build a rock crawler, Toyota decided to contribute a 5.9-liter NASCAR V8 to the cause, which has been “modified” in an undisclosed fashion for this build. (Just speculating, but a cooler cam for low-end torque might be the jam here.) That kind of power almost makes the pickup more of a rock bouncer than anything. It looks like the V8 will be mounted inside the wheelbase, so the finished product should handle reasonably well. A teaser of the final spec can be seen in a CAD drawing in the video, which looks an awful lot like a big-budget Jeep Gladiator.
A series of additional build videos are expected to roll out over the next several days on the run-up to SEMA Show 2023. There, the FJ Bruiser will share the show floor with a variety of creations, including a bagged 2023 Chevy Colorado on 24-inch wheels. It’s always hard to stand out among dozens of one-off builds worth well into the six-figure range, but the FJ Bruiser as an official project of Toyota will probably do just fine.
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