Editor’s note: Unlike many of the folks who picked up their love for off-roading from parents and family, Marcus found his way off the beaten path on his own. Along the way, he came to discover what a capable off-road vehicle could do.
I was never super into vehicles when growing up. I was more interested in music and sports. My folks didn't come from North America and truly lived with challenges most of us could not relate to. Camping outdoors or going off-road wasn't very appealing to them.
On the other hand, I caught the bug. My interest in camping and exploring has grown exponentially. It didn't take long for standard campsites to lose their luster. I wanted to be able to truly explore North America away from pavilions and tourist crowded boardwalks. When I started going on regular camping trips and traveling more remotely, vehicles started coming into the forefront of my interests. Once I realized where you can go in a capable 4WD vehicle, it changed everything for me and really opened a whole new world to discover.
My FJ Cruiser has been the key. I love its ability to reliably get us places most people can't. Admittedly, it's not the best vehicle to build out for 4WD touring and overlanding due to its lack of interior cargo space. But as a person who is very camping focused, I also see that as a positive. It really makes us slow down and ask, Is this a want or a need? Is this going to be useful and add to our experience, or just take up space?
The build is very much focused on backcountry travel and exploration. Much of my home province is rarely seen by the average person. You actually can't even drive from Southern Manitoba to Northern Manitoba. How many places can say the same?!
All the mods serve this vision. We run a full aluminum skid plate setup from Ricochet, rock sliders, and airbags in the rear springs to help when we are loaded up on gear. We also run a TRD Supercharger with a URD pulley, an added 7th fuel injector, TRD cold air intake, Doug Thorley long-tube headers, and a high flow exhaust system. All this gives us a nice power boost when making miles on pavement and traversing terrain.
We’re also happy to run BFGoodrich® Tires because they are a name I trust. We have BFGOODRICH® All-Terrain T/A KO2 tires (217/70R16) wrapped around TRD bronze beadlock wheels. It's amazing how tough these tires are. It's easy to say that BFGoodrich is a proven company with years of tech put into the product. All that technology shows when you stress your tires as we do. We often run low air pressures through some really nasty terrain — everything from incredibly dense Canadian forests to ice and snow covered rocks.
In the future, I want to expand on the FJ Cruiser’s off-road ability with a full suspension overhaul, 35” tires for added clearance, and a much-needed winch.
I really only started getting my first taste of camping in my late teens and got into 4WD vehicles in my mid-twenties. Looking where I stand now, it's quite funny. If you don't pay attention, some interests can really grip you and become a large driving force for your life's ambitions.
See more of Marcus’ FJ Cruiser on Instagram at @marcusisleite.