Editor’s Note: This post was updated on May 23rd, 2018 with new information regarding the road legal status of this Land Cruiser build.
We love kitted-out Defenders. We love jacked-up Broncos. We love 4×4 restomods of (almost) any kind, but this is something more original than most other off-road builds we’ve seen. What we have here is a beautiful Frankensteining of two different Toyota Land Cruisers, powered by an unexpected choice of engine, and sprinkled with subtle enhancements made throughout.
Built by Colorado-based Proffitt’s Ressurection Land Cruisers — a shop specializing in the restoration and modification of Toyota’s stalwart off-roader — the “R2.8 Land Cruiser Pickup” is a marriage between the body of a 79-series Land Cruiser Pickup, and the chassis from an FZJ80 Land Cruiser from 1993 (which had to be lengthened by 20 inches). The “R2.8” moniker comes from the powerplant: a 2.8-liter turbodiesel from Cummins, producing 161 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque. It’s a modest choice, but with a torque delivery very low in the rev range, it’s one that makes sense for a truck like this. Proffitt’s chose it because “[it] is so compact, yet performs so well…in our opinion, it is the best diesel engine option available today,” according to the website.
That engine is hooked up to a five-speed manual transmission, and a part-time 4WD transfer case with electronic-locking differentials. The truck also features three-link suspension at the front and five-link in the rear, Bilstein shocks and rolls on Maxxis mud-terrain tires. Essential overlanding gear like an ARB bumper and Warn winch are also present. The rad side graphics are not so essential but are nonetheless an appreciated touch to an otherwise subtly-crafted machine.
All in all, it’s an incredible off-road build, and the use of the 79-series body is inspired, though there’s probably a good reason for that. Debuting in 1999 and never being sold in the United States, the 79-series Land Cruiser is not a legal machine here (at least not for a few more years), which is why you don’t see builds like this stateside. It’s possible that Proffitt’s can skirt this by dropping the body on a US-legal frame and registering it as a kit car or a modified 1993 FZJ80. It’s also possible that since this is a build for SEMA it is not intended for on-road use in the first place. We’ve reached out to Proffitt’s for more information regarding this and will update this post with any new information.
Update: Proffitt’s Resurrection Land Cruiser’s proprietor, Jeremiah Proffitt, reached out via phone to clarify the legality of his Land Cruiser project. According to him, the truck is in fact road legal in the US, as the project is essentially a kit car. “I would compare the build to building a fiberglass dune buggy or something like that. It’s a metal body on top of an existing chassis,” he said.
Proffitt explained that he came to acquire the not just one but 55 79-series Land Cruisers bodies back in 2009 when he was helping a Dubai-based company building armored vehicles on the truck’s underpinnings. While the engines and chassis were used, the Land Cruiser bodies themselves were done away with. Proffitt made a deal to acquire the remaining body shells which, most importantly, did not come with a vehicle identification number (VIN).
“They were just sheet metal bodies… the VIN was used on the other cars, so without the VIN, it’s basically a body swap.” As such, Proffitt says he’s able to get state-assigned VINs for his 79-series builds, a relatively straightforward process that’s used to make other kit cars and custom builds eligible to drive on the road. And since it uses a pre-existing engine from Cummins, it’s legal in 49 states (California is the exception). “It’s pretty much the only legitimate way to have a newer 79-series in the country, in my opinion,” he said.
In fact, the build featured here is far from the first, as he’s made a handful of similar Land Cruisers for of customers, who he states have had no issues registering their cars on the road. As of writing, Proffitt says he’s down to about five shells left, though unfortunately for would-be clients, they’re all spoken for. Still, Proffitt doesn’t rule out the possibility of making more: “It’s possible to get more [body shells] if you look hard enough. There are still other companies building vehicles on those chassis.”