So, today I completely lost my mind and purchased a broken down 1996 FZJ80L Toyota Land Cruiser, located over 1200 miles away, sight unseen. I know. I assure you, it sounds a lot worse than it is.
You see, I have a serious Land Cruiser problem. I fell in love with the Land Cruiser in Afghanistan, where I was issued a Type 76 naturally aspirated diesel rig, which I proceeded to flog all around the country, despite the extra armor that my agency forced me to have on it, which effectively made it a 9500 pound car. In this underpowered, overweight, top heavy ‘cruiser, I was expected to navigate a war zone, all by myself, depending on a very small signature to stay safe.
In the process of driving some shitty, even non-existent roads, some of which reached 10,000 feet in altitude, I gained a healthy respect, even an infatuation for my Land Cruiser. I turned in my keys to this incredible vehicle toward the end of February 2012, and immediately started longing to have it back.
So, a couple weeks ago, I started looking for Land Cruisers for sale. I had two basic problems, though; I live in Iowa, the land where Toyotas magically turn to rust. Because of this, there are very few Cruisers here, and those that are closely resemble dull red piles of oxide and they want a Prince’s ransom for them. So I started looking to the American South and Southwest for a car. I figured that while I was there, I could drop by and visit some family and friends in the area, and maybe conduct a little business as well.
I checked out likely areas, and found that the Dallas area is full of folks who love their Land Cruisers. And they were priced accordingly. Same thing with San Diego. But Phoenix appeared to be the mother-lode of Land Cruiser price and availability. Also, I found out that a good friend of mine who I worked with in Afghanistan would be heading out there to visit with her sister, so I decided to watch the local car advertisements. I picked a couple weeks to go, bought plane tickets, and watched as all the bargain priced Land Cruisers disappeared, one by one.
What remained were some highly suspect looking rides, including a 178,000 mile, 1996 in beige-ish-y (a color I loathe) that had a disconnected transfer case due to a mechanical problem and a severe rear main leak. The price made me not eliminate it right away, though. I was looking into potential mechanics to help me check the car I’d pick out, when I discovered that Interstate Auto of Chandler, AZ had a high Yelp rating, and was located really near my friend’s sister’s house. AND when I contacted him, he was the guy who maintained the 1996 FZJ80 in question. (!!!!)
After a quick discussion with my friend and the mechanic, we decided that this car would be a great deal, but only if we could beat the seller down on price a bit. So, my friend, who has some pretty impressive feminine bargaining wiles, set upon the seller like a leopard on a gazelle, eventually not only talking the guy several hundred dollars under my own strike price, but getting him to deliver the car to the shop as well.
So, I now own a 1996 FZJ80L Land Cruiser, temporarily beige-ish-y in color, (it WILL be blue, as soon as the temperature gets over 60 degrees here in the Great White North) which is hitting the shop tomorrow to be put into running condition. I am scheduled to fly down Saturday and drive to San Diego with my friend, do some business and return to Phoenix, then back to Iowa via Dallas.
I hope to do some blogging on the way and I’ll be sure to snap lots of pics.
And let me tell you, it feels GREAT to be back in the Land of Cruiser. I look forward to having lots of new adventures in it.