Toyota FJ Cruiser – Ubiquitous at SEMA 2006

Yes, SEMA wanted to salute American Muscle this year and they were successful. In front of the North Hall and inside the lobby rows of Muscle Cars both past and present lined up to receive their deserving accolades. The big block Chevys, Fords, and Dodges pulled at my heartstrings. I could hear the gurgling exhaust notes, feel the rumbling deep in my chest, and smell the high octane burning through four barrel carbs, down high rise manifolds, across forged pistons, and out the dual exhaust with an irregular lope. I kept reaching for that Hurst® shifter and mashing down with my right foot, adrenaline pumping hard through my veins. But it was time to stop daydreaming! Today I would be walkin’… a lot.

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In my quest to see most if not all of SEMA I found it interesting that on the front lines there may have been blown Camaros, tweaked Challengers, and race-ready Mustangs but in the trenches Toyota’s FJ Cruiser was chosen by many exhibitors to strut their aftermarket stuff. From Toyota’s own exhibit flaunting TRD (Toyota Racing Development) and an off-road prepped FJs, the latter with a twin-stick Atlas® t-case, to those companies supplying aftermarket bumpers, stereo equipment, and creating convertibles; the FJ’s were everywhere.


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The FJ Cruiser must have been new enough (entering the market in early 2006), unique enough to draw plenty of attention with its retro-styled exterior (derived from the 1960-1983 FJ40) and also inexpensive enough to be cost-efficient for those smaller companies with smaller budgets. Starting with a base price of about $22K. Whatever the reason, the Toyota FJ Cruiser seemed to be the model of choice at SEMA.
Fun Facts:
Only current vehicle to use the name TOYOTA spelled out
Based on the Hi-Lux platform shared with the Toyota 4Runner
At 183.9 Inches long the FJ is the longest compact SUV offered in North America
ALL FJ’s are built in Japan and ONLY sold in North America
Introduced at the 2003 Chicago Auto Show and in production form at the following North American International Auto Show the FJ Cruiser (not originally intended for production) was pushed into production due to the overwhelming positive public response.

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