Early 4x4s inspire pair of off-road vehicles

 
 
Updated 4/24/2017 6:25 AM
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  • Toyota FJ Photos Courtesy of the FJ Company

  • The interior of one of the FJ Company's rebuilt Toyotas.

    The interior of one of the FJ Company's rebuilt Toyotas.

  • A Toyota being rebuilt at FJ Company's Colombian facility.

    A Toyota being rebuilt at FJ Company's Colombian facility.

  • The Rugged General's bed-tilt handle is an old hand grenade.

    The Rugged General's bed-tilt handle is an old hand grenade.

  • One of the company's multi-band radios is found in the dashboard.

    One of the company's multi-band radios is found in the dashboard.

Navigating the backroads of Colombia is no easy task. The picturesque countryside is full of rough terrain, treacherous trails and rocky roads. Nelson Acevedo and his wife lived in the mountains and found the perfect hauler for getting around: the Toyota FJ40.

Acevedo was a farmer and owned a 1968 as well as a 1982 model, which he bought new. He found both to be true workhorses and they were the only vehicles he ever used.

Acevedo's grandsons, Nelson Calle and his brother Juan Diego Calle, have many memories of riding in the back seat of grandpa's FJ. After school, they would visit their grandparent's house and tag along on any in-town errands. Because of all these happy recollections, when their grandfather passed away in 2009, they set out to restore the FJ he, and they, loved so much.

Nelson Calle sits on top of his grandfather's Toyota FJ40 when he was a child growing up in Colombia. At right, the interior of one of his company's rebuilt Toyotas.
Nelson Calle sits on top of his grandfather's Toyota FJ40 when he was a child growing up in Colombia. At right, the interior of one of his company's rebuilt Toyotas. -

What began as a passion project turned into a desire to do more.

"We had so much fun with the restoration process that we set out to build more like it," Nelson Calle said.

In 2011, the brothers launched the FJ Company and set up headquarters in Miami. That's just where the company's sales and marketing is based. Actual restorations take place at its 70,000 square foot, state-of-the art facility in Bogota, Colombia. There, vehicles roll in and are fully overhauled by the company's team.

Typically, this process takes nine to 12 months and each year the company finishes between 70 and 80 restorations.

The FJ Company will restore your vintage Toyota FJ vehicle or you can buy an authentic, rebuilt model on the company's website.
The FJ Company will restore your vintage Toyota FJ vehicle or you can buy an authentic, rebuilt model on the company's website. -

While customers can send it vehicles, the company keeps a healthy stock of freshly built inventory. They are constantly seeking "donor" vehicles that serve as solid foundations for rebuilds. FJs come from around the world, with many being found in Australia.

Finished vehicles cost between $50,000 and $100,000, depending on options, and come with a one-year service agreement. The company opened a new service center in Dallas earlier this year with another one opening next month in Aspen, Colorado.

"There is no better way to honor our grandfather's legacy than by building some of the world's best-restored Toyota FJ Land Cruisers," Neslon said.

For more details, visit www.fj.co.

Rugged General

The legendary World War II Jeep that stormed beaches, rode out assaults and blazed jungle trails was an ultimate off-roader. Its storied legacy served as the perfect inspiration for the crew at Rugged Radios.

- Rugged General Photos Courtesy of Rugged Radios

The company created the Rugged General UTV, which it uses for promotional purposes. The project started with a 2016 Polaris General UTV.

From there, the gang at NVFab, in Grover Beach, California, was enlisted to turn the vehicle into a custom, go-anywhere, four-wheel drive warrior.

The vehicle received a 3-inch lift kit, 32-inch tires and upgraded shocks. For night maneuvers, they installed a whole slew of LEDs and high-intensity discharge lights to blaze the way when the sun goes down.

Up front, the factory front clip was removed and replaced with an authentic Willys Jeep grill and hood, flanked by flat fenders. There's also a fold down windshield -- another Jeep staple.

A canvas top covers a custom, hand-fabricated roll cage. Other themed touches include twin ammo cans -- one for storage and one to hide a speaker box with built-in amplifier. Around back is a spare tire. An air-raid siren serves as the horn.

The Rugged General was built using a 2016 Polaris all-terrain vehicle, with inspiration taken from the World War II Jeep.
The Rugged General was built using a 2016 Polaris all-terrain vehicle, with inspiration taken from the World War II Jeep. -

The shifter and bed-tilt handles are made from vintage hand grenades , while an axe and shovel are at the ready for any SNAFUs encountered on the trail. Inside the cabin, back seats are covered in canvas.

It's not all "old school" for the General. Rugged Radios installed one of its new multi-band radios as well as a tablet-based GPS system, which allows users to download their favorite trails and maps and instantly share their travels on social media.

The vehicle is legal for on-road use in some states but the company will mostly deploy it off the asphalt. Like its forerunner, it'll have no trouble conquering the outdoors.

For more details, visit www.ruggedradios.com.

• Share your car's story with Matt at auto@dailyherald.com.

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