Outrageous Toyota FJ Bruiser unveiled at SEMA

One-off, 725hp NASCAR-engined off-road truck can go 'virtually anywhere'

By Cam Tait / Tuesday, 31 October 2023 / Loading comments

A few months ago, Toyota announced an all-new generation of Land Cruiser that introduced a hefty dose of nostalgia to the sensible, reliable and dependable off-roader. The car giant’s US arm is so excited that it now has a cool 4×4 to sell in the States that it’s gone and built itself a homage to the legendary FJ off-roader – only with a slight American twist.

Debuting at this week’s SEMA show, the affectionately-named ‘FJ Bruiser’ is, in Toyota’s words, an ‘unstoppable rock crawling beast that can go virtually anywhere.’ You don’t say. From the outside it looks like a Toyota FJ45, providing you stand from a considerable distance, but the thin metal bodywork is about all this monster buggy shares with the 4×4 of yesteryear. Toyota Racing Development in California built a full tubular chassis and roll cage to bolt the body onto, with each corner featuring trailing arm suspension that’s paired up with Fox dampers and Eibach springs. And while the rims are only a measly 20 inches, they’re wrapped in 42-inch BF Goodrich Krawler tyres. Meaty.

If the looks weren’t enough to intimidate you, perhaps the sound of it will be. That’s because the FJ Bruiser is powered by a 358 cubic inch (that’s 5.7 litres to people outside of America) NASCAR V8 with 725hp. The same power plant that currently powers this year’s top-tier Cup Series cars, no less. A Magnaflow exhaust should deliver a sound akin to two Norse gods battling, while three speeds is all it needs to manage the power. A torque figure hasn’t been announced, but expect it to be somewhere between ‘lots’ and ‘more lots’. 

That’s quite the shopping list of big-brand parts, but Toyota insists it’s an old school 4×4 at heart. After all, the FJ Bruiser is a solid-axle vehicle, albeit with Currie differentials front and rear, and an Advanced Adapter Atlas transfer case. The latter provides four speeds each for two-wheel and four-wheel drive configurations, allowing it to climb rock faces at 12mph while revving to 7,000rpm in its lowest gear, and barrel along at 165mph in its highest speed.

“Every year we are fortunate enough to get to build a SEMA special project vehicle. With the return of the Land Cruiser to the US market, it only made sense to build a rock crawler, so this is our take on a 1966 Toyota FJ45 Pickup Truck”, said Marty Schwerter, team manager at Toyota Motorsports. “At first it was referred to loosely as ‘The Unstoppable FJ,’ but by the time it was done, it was a beastly vehicle, and so the team started referring to it as the ‘FJ Bruiser.’” Good to know it was as fun to build as it looks.

It’s also good to see Toyota has a sense of humour, even if it’s just a one-off for the SEMA show. But while there’s frankly zero chance of this making production (boo), some of the 18 other concept cars the firm is bringing to the event – including a GR86 Trueno Edition and GR Supra 45th Anniversary model – absolutely will. Just not for the European market. Blast.

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