By: Chris Wall
Can you get more South African than a rod created out of one of SA’s most iconic brands? Ok sure, Toyota is Japanese, but the Land Cruiser and the Hilux have been top sellers in our land since that bearded guy pated the sea. They are farmer favourites and there are a helluva lot of farmers in our country. Actually, we also have a lot of farmer wannabes, judging by the amount of these monstrous Toyotas seen in urban areas.
For the truly iconic we have to jump back to 1976 for the FJ45 Land Cruiser. An imposing lump of reliability and metal all wrapped up in a Stone Beige and Old English White paint combo. What we have here is also wrapped in that paint, down to the original paint code, but it is not your average FJ45, it is a creation from the team at Allers Rods & Customs and it has been somewhat of an internet sensation. There have even been comments about it being a Photoshop creation and not a real car. So what you see here is either a cool shoot done in typically South African setting or it is the result of 3000 hours of Photoshop.
It is, in fact, the result of 1200 hours of elbow grease from Andre and Arthur Allers. It was also a sideline build apart from their usual customer cars so it was done in the early mornings, the evenings and on weekends – the figure is exact too as Andre’s wife kept count of all the times he was missing in action (you guys know what I am talking about).
So why an FJ45? Well, there was a cab available and Andre envisioned a regte Suid Afrikaanse build and so the project began. “I really wanted to show the SA hotrod scene that you could create something not American, a proper home-grown rod”.
All the parts for this car are available in SA and many parts are locally manufactured too. “I also wanted it to be practical for daily use, something that was perfect to travel through SA in”.
Travel it does. Since completion in August last year the rod has racked up more than 10 000km. It has done the entirety of the KZN Midlands Meander tour at 2500km and also Route 62 to Cape Town and back – a 4700km roundtrip. I know people with brand new daily drivers that are scared to do such long trips in case something pops on the car. That is Toyota’s reliability for you, even in a Rod.
Andre decided on keeping it in the family and so a new generation 1UZ was fitted to the custom chassis, the 300hp VVTi version, along with the matching 5-speed auto box. Everything is run off the OEM ECU too, no aftermarket stuff here. Of course, there are some non-Toyota parts, but they are still easily available locally. The diff is from a Discovery but to get the width he wanted (incidentally it measures in just 20mm is a side shorter than the legally allowed width for a car) he used 2 long shafts from two diffs and created one. This means no welding or cutting, it is a properly bolted together piece – clever. The hubs have also remained, which is why they are black (with brown sheen) Discovery wheels fitted too, wrapped in menacing BF Goodrich rubber. His good mates Jaq and Tiaan at Independent 4×4 helped with the Landy parts, which makes sense seeing as they specialize in Landy parts. The suspension is fully custom; a proven in-house design that the Allers team uses on many of their builds.
Brakes are overkill with 4-pots up front and single pots and discs at the rear, but hey, no one ever complained about too much braking, only too little. On all of its road trips, the FJ tows a custom teardrop caravan along, so it needs to be able to stop properly when hitched. That caravan is another story altogether. It has to been seen.
A family member has a Datsun spares collection second to none, which is where the small “jam jar” indicators up front are from – an old Datsun Blue Bird’s number plate light x 2. A very cool little touch. The OEM mirrors are in place because they just work so well with the look, and at the rear there is a spare wheel that still allows the rear door to open. Taillights are spotlight housings with innards from truck taillights and they look legit. The headlights are in the OEM location and are actually original Hella bits for a Mk1 Golf. The small 120mm wipers were supplied by Bosch in pieces and Andre assembled them to the size he needed. The wagon-style cabin with a chopped roof and custom windows was hand-crafted from scratch and it looks like a factory job it is that good. Many smaller parts needed here and there were sourced by Corne at N1 4×4…. “He moved mountains to get me what I needed, amazing service never experienced before” says Andre.
There is an integrated cage for rigidity inside the cabin but also because the roof comes off when the need arises as safety comes first. On the dash there is an Acewell gauge, a piece of digital awesomeness that gives you all the feedback an OEM setup should – all temps and readings from every sensor you can imagine, not to mention lap timers and drag strip timers as well as full recall of previous readings. There is a radio in the centre and below that the OEM FJ heater box that works and will soon have aircon integrated into it. The Momo steering wheel was customized to match the theme as were the pedals with rubber inserts. The shifter looks like an old school piece topped off with a B&M handle. Seats are from a Jeep Wrangler and suit the FJ perfectly. In the rear there are also removeable seats for the grandkids made from military stuff and is a really cool feature.
There is no dome light inside – that is integrated into the rear-view mirror thanks to the removable roof. Where you would expect to see a light there is a CB radio bolted to the cage. This is used to stay in contact with other drivers who come along on road trips. A dual battery system is also in play to run external things that need juice. This car certainly wants for nothing.
Andre and Arthur Allers have created the ultimate South African rod. You can see from a mile away that it belongs on our shores and nowhere else. It is a looker, fast, practical and above all, reliable. What more would you want from a custom build?