Even TLCs need TLC now and then

In 38 years, the 1973 FJ40 you see above has, with the exception of dead batteries, never once failed to start and run and get me where I wanted to go. The closest it came was just a couple of years ago, when crud in the carburetor meant I had to clean the float bowl before it would maintain an idle. And one time, in Mexico's backcountry, the combination of a dead battery and bad gas forced me to replace the fuel filter while the engine was running. Scant glitches in an almost unbelievable record of reliability. 

Still wearing most of its original paint, it also retains its original ring and pinion gears; until a couple of years ago it still had its original starter—a record of longevity I've never come across before. The front and rear side marker lamps? Original Toyota factory bulbs, all four of them, still burning 43 years after they were plugged in on the assembly line. Weird.

Now on its second F engine, in the last couple of years I noticed a significant loss in power, and inspection revealed low compression in one cylinder. At the same time, the H41 transmission and transfer case have been getting louder and louder with wear, also betrayed by significant slop when lifting off the throttle. So it's time for a bit of refurbishment, care of our master Toyota mechanic Bill Lee, formerly of Tucson but who infuriatingly keeps moving farther away from us, now 500 miles off in Farmington, New Mexico. Recently he called and said he had another FJ40 being trucked to him from southern Arizona, so we added ours to the shipment.

Bill is planning to install new piston rings and a new cam, do a valve job, and go through the transmission and transfer case. Anything else he notices he'll take care of as well. It will be a new lease on life for a loyal machine. 

I know what you're wondering: I paid $3,500 for this Land Cruiser in 1978 when I purchased it from the original owner. Since it's now worth several times that despite 300,000-plus miles of use, it's safe to say it was a good investment, no?

Early days. Three Feathers in Redington Pass

Leading sea kayak tours in Mexico