In a little City called Chia, North of Bogota, we met an amazing person with a passion for off-roading and a lovely family. He kindly helped us for about two months to make our dream come true; to overhaul the FJ-43, to bring it back, as close as possible, to its original state.
We have documented this time with our camera and would like to show you our work in progress with the FJ, a new perspective of what the Fj´s are able to do under extreme conditions and some great times spent with these guys.
The Fj´s really do their job. If it´s exploring, off-road racing, firefighting, towing cars, towing itself out of trouble or just having fun in the mud pit.
The Toyota Land Cruiser is Toyotas longest running series. Production began in 1951 and it is still running today. Colombia started very early importing these cars and it didn’t take long for them to become well known for their durability, strength and simplicity. Nowadays when you drive through the country, you will find Fj´s modified for all kinds of usage.
They are real off-road winners, amazing workhorses and for us the perfect home since we have had it. It takes us wherever we want to go, from the coast to high altitudes, through rivers and deserts, through hot and cold and is (almost;) always reliable. In the last few months in Colombia we have learnt so much about using and fixing the FJ, that it is even more a part of us now so we decided to use it for further journeys.
Mauro (the great guy in the car above) runs an off-road school called “Aceademia 4×4”, with his Father Mauricio. Together they have a passion for going places you normally wouldn’t believe that a car could go. They take you out of the city and show you in the field how to act and react off-road. We have learnt so much from them…
…using a winch when you are stuck…
…what to do when you roll over…
…or fixing a flat tire without regular tools.
Their off-road tours are based on teamwork and friendship and are definitely great fun for everybody who loves to explore and enjoy nature.
Mauro has a modified Fj-40 from the 70´s and his father is rebuilding one from the 80´s. They both love these cars and it seems like they know every screw and bolt by its name. The whole family gave us a warm welcome and offered us a place to stay in their backyard, we were free to use all their tools and machines. But the biggest help and support they taught us was what we needed to do, how it needed to be done and where to get the parts to do it around Bogotá.
We started right from the first day of arrival; removing parts to check, repair and adjust. The FJ came with a mixture of rims so it was time to search for a whole set and some bigger tires.
At this time we had the chance to have a closer look underneath the FJ to see what needed to be done so we continued removin parts. It became some adjustments on the leaf springs and a set of new shock absorbers which stopped working a long time ago. We replaced some bearings in the front differential and renewed the Cardan shaft.
With help from our friends we switched from disassembling to reassembling all the parts back onto the FJ until we could start the engine again. As soon as it was drivable, we went to the Bodyshop for them to remove the worst of our corrosion problems.
We let them work on the body for about two weeks instead of four days as expected but made great use of the time to enjoy the passion of Mauro and his Dad, cars, dirt roads and adventure.
Rally Racing is not very popular in Colombia but a small community of enthusiasts do exist, they have their own racetrack, workshops and some obstacle tracks to maneuver the 4×4´s through mud pits, over hills, gravel and sand.
Issues with your steering wheel? No problem, the “hombre solo” (clamp plier) help you out and brings you home safely. The professional drivers always find a way to get out of tricky situations. Even with minimal tools.
Two months over and our on-site “to do list” has expanded daily, so we stopped writing lists and just fixed everything what was needed to fix and adjust. The FJ is back in a fresh and powerful shape and ready to be taken out on the streets for ongoing adventures. We thank everybody who has supported us with our dream and are so happy being welcomed like family members from the very start.
If you like and are interested in going off-road in Colombia, check out Mauros and his Dad´s amazing off-road school at www.academia4x4.com
Colombia is just amazing so we decided to keep traveling there a little longer and are exited about what will come next.