Those familiar with Tamiya’s GF-01 wheelie popping four-wheel drive chassis will most certainly tell you that it’s a fun vehicle to drive. When combined with the classic looks of the iconic Toyota Land Cruiser 40 (FJ40), the combination is really hard to beat. RCCA’s Associate Publisher, Leigh Guarnieri felt that the Tamiya FJ40 had more potential beyond its stock form. With the right hop up parts, this pick-up truck had the promise to dish out even more fun.
Guarnieri grew up as a motorcycle dealership brat. As a kid hanging out at the shop in the early-80s, he got to see and do things many other kids only dreamt about. A highlight of the time was sitting in the shop’s work truck. It was a Toyota FJ40 pick-up, much like Tamiya’s RC kit of the same model. The truck really left an impression on him one day when he saw it crash right through a cinderblock wall when its clutch went out. Now as an adult, he realizes just how tough that pick-up really is. As a tribute to the FJ40 of his past, he wanted to beef up the Tamiya Land Cruiser 40 in order to live up to its bigger brother’s toughness.
Out of the box, Tamiya’s GF-01 chassis equipped Toyota Land Cruiser 40 features a powerful gear-driven 4WD transmission system and a tough monocoque frame. The chassis’ tread and wheelbase lengths are nearly the same, which is undoubtedly one of the reasons why it is so easy to pop wheelies with. The chassis rides on a double wishbone suspension and includes friction dampers. A wheelie-bar mounted in the rear keeps it from flipping.
Over a moderate span of time, Guarnieri collected every GF-01 upgrade part he could get his hands on. One look at the finished build, we can see that he left no screw unturned when it came to upgrading this truck. The chassis of the FJ40 usually comes black but he swapped out the stock parts for Tamiya clear smoke colored pieces instead. The clear chassis really shows off the GF-01’s 4WD gearing.
He also ditched as many plastic components as possible, swapping them out for anodized blue aluminum. Aluminum parts are often preferred over plastic units for their rigidity and strength. Let’s face it; they also look cool too. Guarnieri sourced aluminum upgrades from Tamiya such as oil-filled shocks, the servo stay and motor guard. He also went outside OEM and picked up parts from Yeah Racing including their long-span suspension arm kit and adjustable aluminum wheelie bar. We must admit, seeing all that gleaming blue metal under the FJ40’s body can be awe inspiring.
The GF-01 isn’t traditionally a fast vehicle and is meant to bash around, not race hot laps. Guarnieri understood this, but still, he wanted to up the speed of the Land Cruiser. He went about this by adding some much-needed power by way of a Tamiya TL01 21.5 turn brushless motor and powered it with a Max Amps 6500mah LiPo 7.4v battery. According to him, the combination of the two applied a very noticeable “oomph” to the truck the first time he drove it.
To really get the right look going for the FJ40, Guarnieri looked up his favorite RC body painter, Matt over at MR Custom Painting. He asked Matt to paint the Land Cruiser using a simple two-tone motif. We have to say that the results are quite stunning. The black and gunmetal Pro-Line paint along with chrome accents really knocks this build out of the park.
Guarnieri wasn’t done in the concourse department quite yet. If you notice, he added a driving bear in the right hand drive position for some comedic detail. The bear known as Kumamon, was sourced from a Tamiya WR-02G chassis tractor. He explained to us that the figure isn’t available by itself so when he found one for sale on eBay, he jumped on it. We really dig the look of the driving bear.
Some of the most noticeable upgrades on the truck are the tires. Giving this bear driven pick-up a decidedly racy look, these R31House Formula Kart slick tires have officially licensed Bridgestone Potenza logos emblazoned on them. They honestly look like 1/8-scale F1 tires. The tires are wrapped around clean looking R31House Kart rims. R31House is a boutique brand from Japan so locating these additions wasn’t the easiest, but Guarnieri says that it’s well worth the effort.
Leigh Guarnieri’s FJ40 Pick-Up
BASE KIT: TAMIYA TOYOTA LAND CRUISER 40
Tamiya TL01 21.5 Wind Brushless Motor
Tamiya Kumamon Driver Figure from new Tractor Version WR-02G
Tamiya Aluminum Servo Lowering Guard GF-01
Tamiya Aluminum Motor Guard GF-01
Tamiya Aluminum Servo Stay GF-01
Tamiya GF-01/G6-01 Gear Set (Qty. 2)
Tamiya GF-01 Composite Fiberglass Battery Plate
Tamiya Aluminum Bumper for WR-02 /GF-01/G6-01 Chassis
Tamiya GF-01 Aluminum Oil Shock Damper Set
Tamiya GF01 D Parts Clear Grey
Yeah Racing Long-Span Suspension Arms Upgrade Kit for GF01
Yeah Racing GF-01 Blue Adjustable Aluminum Wheelie Bar
RedBack Racing aluminum 12mm HEX Adapters/Hub +10mm
R31House Formula Kart Slick Tires
R31House Kart Rims
RC Screws Tamiya (GF-01) Sealed Bearing Kit
Max Amps 6500mah LiPo 7.4v Battery
Futaba 304 Receiver
Futaba 3PV Transmitter
Futaba S3470SV Servo
MR Custom Painting Custom Paint Job
Guarnieri’s mission was to see if he could fully option out everything on the GF-01 Land Cruiser 40 pick-up truck to add to its already inherently fun personality. We’d say that he achieved his goal. With added pep in its step and head turning looks, we think this on-road take of a off road classic is something unique. He’s got us thinking about building something similar now.
Text and Images by Jerry Tsai