false

Marcus’ 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser

Build

By Marcus Leite

 0  0

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.

a description of the image

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. 

a description of the image

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?

a description of the image
a description of the image

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.

a description of the image
a description of the image

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.  

a description of the image

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.

a description of the image

 


 

See more of Marcus’ FJ Cruiser on Instagram at @marcusisleite

Most Recent   /   Most Liked

Related Pit Crew Answers

How do I become a successful professional driver?

ACP

Q: How do I become a successful, professional driver?

A: That's a very difficult question to answer. A lot of top drivers in the world had a family connection or patron that got them into motorsports. Of the ones who built their careers totally on their own, there are a thousand different stories.

I know guys who started out as car jockeys at a local dealer until they could convince the dealer owner to sponsor them in a race; guys who scraped pennies together to go through a driver development program like Skip Barber; and even guys who got in through winning at car driving video games and getting the chance to try their skills in a real car.

Race driving is such an improbable career and so many people fail. The only way to possibly succeed is to absolutely love it, believe in yourself, and never give up. Never. Never.

All the successful one drivers share a few traits: they are 100% determined; they have passion and confidence; and they are quick to spot an opportunity and jump on it. If you don't, someone else will.

What does it mean to be "smooth"?

Terry Earwood

Q: What does it mean to be "smooth"?

A: A huge part of "being smooth" is literally how your hands and feet adjust the controls. The first time I rode with my current ex-wife, after a few miles in her Durango, I asked how many throttle pedals or cables she had replaced in the last 6 months, for she was on and off the gas 17 times every 30 seconds! (I actually timed it!)

It was as if she was thinking, "Here’s some gas, let’s see how far this shot goes.” She'd coast a minute, pop the gas again, etc.

Good news/bad news. She thanked me profusely for pointing that out (I’m joking), but she did clean that up!

Instead, she swapped it for "steering response!" I would literally reach over and grab the wheel to show her we did not have to saw at the wheel every 3 feet.

It was a lot like popping the gas pedal: "Let’s steer right, oops too much, let’s go left!” So I advised we go back to popping the gas, since power steering pumps are more expensive than throttle cables. She actually was a pretty good driver, awesome with a manual tranny, but has now moved on to another driver coach. Or whatever. We’re still friends.

I'll also never forget a lesson my Dad taught me: "Pretend you have a nearly full glass of water on the dashboard. Be smooth enough to never slosh out any water.” My Dad had great cars, from Lincolns to Porsches to Jaguars, and he never ever put a scratch on one the 71 years he drove. And he drove quickly. We always compared “elapsed time, from say, Atlanta to Sebring. He was smooth, because he loved to drive, so he paid attention to details.

What's your favorite stunt driving story?

ACP

Q: What’s your favorite stunt driving story?

A: I went to Eastern Europe this year to do stunts on a spy film. When I got there, I learned that, instead of doubling an actor, I would be driving a specially-built car from the back seat while the star sat in the front seat and pretended to drive.

The stunt was a high-speed, reverse-180 down a narrow European street. So there I am, crunched down in the rear seat with a second steering wheel, pedals, and gearshift, wearing a ninja outfit so the cameras don't see me. Meanwhile, one of the sexiest female stars in the world was leaning back against my knees as I'm whipping the car backwards at 50mph. It's at times like that you absolutely have to be confident that you're going to nail the stunt!

Search

Looking for something?
Try the search bar below.

Please enter valid search term.

Forgot Password

Don't have an account yet? Sign up here.

Forgot Your
Password

Please enter the email address associated with your account and we will help you recover your password.

Forgot Password

Don't have an account yet? Sign up here.

Forgot Your
Password

Please enter the email address associated with your account and we will help you recover your password.

Forgot Password

Don't have an account yet? Sign up here.

Forgot Your
Password

Please enter the email address associated with your account and we will help you recover your password.

Forgot Password

Don't have an account yet? Sign up here.

Forgot Your
Password

Please enter the email address associated with your account and we will help you recover your password.

Forgot Password

Don't have an account yet? Sign up here.

Forgot Your
Password

Please enter the email address associated with your account and we will help you recover your password.

Forgot Password

Don't have an account yet? Sign up here.

Forgot Your
Password

Please enter the email address associated with your account and we will help you recover your password.

Forgot Password

Don't have an account yet? Sign up here.

Forgot Your
Password

Please enter the email address associated with your account and we will help you recover your password.

Forgot Password

Don't have an account yet? Sign up here.

Forgot Your
Password

Please enter the email address associated with your account and we will help you recover your password.

Forgot Password

Don't have an account yet? Sign up here.

Forgot Your
Password

Please enter the email address associated with your account and we will help you recover your password.

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Already have an account? Sign in here.