Fourtitude.com - 1997 LX450 Ownership Experiences - AKA The Adventures of Chungus
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    1. Member Roketdriver's Avatar
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      04-03-2020 03:11 PM #1
      Hi everybody, thanks in advance for reading. I'm getting this thread started to document what it's like to live with an 80 Series Land Cruiser, share the adventures it's taken me on, and outline some of the maintenance that they need.

      This all started about a year ago when I started running into some major issues with my Mazdas. Mechanically the Speed 3 and Miata were doing just fine, but they lacked the ground clearance and other capabilities that I needed to enjoy the mountains to the fullest. About once a month I would find myself having to abandon camping plans because I was flat-out unable to get to the site.

      So I started looking at the CX-5 to continue my life as a Mazda fanboy. After driving one I quickly realized I didn't like the CX-5. My search expanded to more capable vehicles, such as the 4Runner, X-Terra, XJ Cherokee, etc. One thing led to another, and I found myself at a buy here/pay here lot looking at a 1997 LX450 with a mere 169k miles on the clock.

      For those unfamiliar - the LX450 was nothing more than a FZJ80 Land Cruiser with some extra goodies like more sound deadening, a CD changer, and Lexus badges. Mechanically, they're identical. It's powered by a 4.5-liter, twin-cam, four-valve inline-six engine that produces a whopping 215 hp and 275 lb⋅ft of torque. The hatchback I traded in for it made more power Curb weight comes in at roughly 5000 pounds. It's worth noting that this was the last generation of LC to be sold in the US with solid front and rear axles. Other mechanical bits include a 4 speed automatic, full time 4wd, low range with center locker, extra transmission cooler, etc. This one lacks the desirable optional front and rear diff lockers, but for what I need that's ok.

      After a quick drive and poke around under the hood and under the rig, I knew I had to have it. This thing was so beefy compared to all of the other 4x4's I looked at. The price was right, so I said goodbye to the joys of hot hatch ownership and welcomed a slow beast into my life. Chungus was purchased in September of 2019.

      A few shots from the car lot. It's clean clean clean.







      Some glamour shots from its first week home:









      Initial driving impressions: It's slow. Really slow. It's even more under-powered than the Miata. There is zero sense of urgency when the throttle is applied heavily. The ride is reminiscent of a luxury car of the same era - floaty and boaty. Larger bumps are a little jarring but the small stuff gets soaked up well. The LX has a softer spring rate than the LC. Twisty mountain roads that are fun in a Mazda become a chore. Whipping around corners has been replaced by rollover concerns. The brakes are fine, nothing to really comment on aside from the fact that they do an adequate job slowing down a super heavy rig. Apparently the brake pads off the 100 series fit these, and perform better. That's a mod that'll come down the road.

      This thing is a thirsty pig. I've been averaging 12-14mpg around town and managed 17 on a highway trip.

      I really wish I could say that the seats are comfortable, but I find that after two hours of seat time my legs start to bug me. I wish they offered more thigh support like some of the German manufacturers offer. The seating position is very upright, which is fine for a vehicle like this. The rest of the interior is a nice place to be. I replaced the factory headunit with a Kenwood touchscreen so that I could add cameras down the road and have creature comforts like Bluetooth for music and hands-free calling. I lost the ability to use the CD changer as a result, which is fine by me. The stereo sounds nice with the new radio hooked up, although the lack of a true subwoofer means it doesn't thump hard enough to rattle the windows.



      Anyway, because I bought a 4x4 to do 4x4 things, I took it out onto a trail the first chance I got. With fresh temp tags, I headed to Caribou flats - a trail rated as "moderate" and "ok for stock trucks"



      Things were going pretty smoothly. The suspension has great flex. The Michelin Defenders that wrapped the stock 16" wheels weren't my first choice in all-terrain tire. These were replaced by some Hankook snow tires and I'll be running Coopers this summer.



      It had rained the night before, there were some muddy sections that I was able to overcome in 4Low, which automatically locks the center diff. This was the worst of them:





      I came in from the high line shown on the right in the first photo and promptly slid into the hole, mashing the steel front bumper into the mud as it went down. And then I was stuck. After rocking it back and forth a number of times, the mighty LX clawed its way out and the rest of the journey continued without further incident.

      Is it really a Toyota without a Camry dent? I'm glad I got it out of the way as quickly as possible.




      More to come
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    3. Geriatric Member Sporin's Avatar
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      04-03-2020 03:20 PM #2
      It's a beauty!

      I had a well worn 96 TLC. It had nearly 300k very hard miles on it, inumerable owners, and rolled on 35s (you think your's feels slow? ) I averaged 13 mpg no matter how I drove it, but that math didn't account for the tires so it was probably even worse.

      I miss it though, great truck. I think I'd go 100 series next just because the V8 is so nice and it feels quite a bit more modern.

      Looking forward to hearing more adventures.


    4. Member Roketdriver's Avatar
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      04-03-2020 03:27 PM #3
      The next excursion was in October, wheeling up Argentine Pass. (These were shot on film)



      This was before I had proper snow tires on. Not the best choice in hindsight.



      Thankfully there wasn't a ton of snow on the ground, maybe 3-4" max until I got above the treeline. Then things became impassable and I turned around. Great views though!






      In November I went on a camping trip in the Red Feather lakes area. Pretty uneventful from a wheeling perspective, but I got a great feel for what I'd need to add in the future. Ultimately the goal is to have a minimalist overlanding rig that can still be daily driven when it's not appropriate to have the Miata out of the garage.



      The cargo area with the seats flipped up is nice and flat, but just a smidge too short for me to comfortably lay all the way down. On later trips I'd remove one of the rear seats, which is easily done by pulling 4 bolts.

      The next trip was out to Vicksburg, a ghost town type area:



      Winter started to roll in pretty hard. I bought chains to go with the snow tires and threw them on just in case. I'm glad I did, because there was a lot of ice hiding under the fresh powder.









      I replaced the aging radiator in December.



      I didn't take a ton of photos, I was too focused on the task at hand. It went smoothly, everything came apart and went back together as the Toyota Gods intended.



      Went Ice Racing in January. Playing with zero traction on a frozen lake gave me a great sense of how it responds on slippery surfaces. My prior attempts to do donuts in snowy parking lots were foiled by the sheer weight of the thing and the grip provided by the I-Pikes.



      I won a few practice rounds and my first heat, then lost to another Toyota and was done for the day.

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    5. Member vwpiloto's Avatar
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      04-03-2020 03:31 PM #4
      Congrats. That is super clean, and these are very nice looking trucks. Looks like a keeper.

    6. Member Roketdriver's Avatar
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      04-03-2020 03:34 PM #5
      In February I visited Moab for the first time. I did a lot of exploring on BLM land, ventured into the national parks a little, and had some fun on the Chicken Corners trail.





      Gorgeous scenery:





      I'll definitely be returning to Moab again next year. The off-season was a great time to go. Nothing was crowded and the weather was mild.

      While I was out there, I started getting a VERY persistent set of check engine lights - P0171 (running lean) and P0401 (EGR related).

      I found the primary cause pretty quickly:



      Slapped a new intake hose on and I was back in business.



      But while I was in there, I noticed a fresh coolant leak:



      Which now brings us to the present!

      This week I tore back into the cooling system to replace the o-rings responsible for the leak, and to tackle the "pesky heater hose"



      For the uninitiated, the pesky heater hose is a small section of tubing that is buried under the intake manifold, toward the firewall. It's accessible through the fender well, past some brake lines, wiring harnesses, and other mechanical components. I cannot stress enough how inconveniently placed this time-bomb is.



      At the time of writing this, the old hose is off, the new one is halfway back on, and then I can get to the o-rings.
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    7. Member Roketdriver's Avatar
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      04-03-2020 03:38 PM #6
      Quote Originally Posted by Sporin View Post
      It's a beauty!

      I had a well worn 96 TLC. It had nearly 300k very hard miles on it, inumerable owners, and rolled on 35s (you think your's feels slow? ) I averaged 13 mpg no matter how I drove it, but that math didn't account for the tires so it was probably even worse.

      I miss it though, great truck. I think I'd go 100 series next just because the V8 is so nice and it feels quite a bit more modern.

      Looking forward to hearing more adventures.
      I can't imagine how much slower these get as the tire sizes increase. I'm eyeballing the Cooper ST Maxx treads as my summer set, which will come in at 32". I wanted to find the biggest tire possible that would still fit my chains. Innumerable owners seems to be a running theme with these - mine had five before I owned it and it was also stolen once.

      I didn't consider the 100 Series when I was shopping, but I wouldn't rule them out if Chungus got totaled for some reason. There's something distinctively old-school about the 80 that made it really appealing to me.


      Quote Originally Posted by vwpiloto View Post
      Congrats. That is super clean, and these are very nice looking trucks. Looks like a keeper.
      Thanks! I plan on keeping it for a loong time.
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      04-03-2020 03:38 PM #7
      Nice looking truck.

      I dailied a '97 LX for 7 years and 80k miles. Was an awesome truck. I'd still be driving it but we bought a camper and it wasn't a great tow vehicle.

      Shift it manually, if you aren't already,, to keep it in the power band. It will feel a lot peppier, and pull passes like a boss.

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      04-03-2020 03:49 PM #8
      Excellent

      Another owner up where our cabin is has this gen LC as his 'cabin' vehicle. Flys in from California, gets the LC out of storage in Billings, and then he has his truck for the weeks/month he's up there. One day I would love to do something similar. Just drive a regular car out there, and then have our fun old truck for the cabin. Right now, its an Atlas instead
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    10. Geriatric Member Sporin's Avatar
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      04-03-2020 03:54 PM #9
      Quote Originally Posted by Roketdriver View Post
      There's something distinctively old-school about the 80 that made it really appealing to me.
      I had an FJ62 before that and the 80 felt very much liek the best version of that formula. The 100-series goes to IFS but it's not something that would hold me back offroad, I'm not doing king of the hammers.

    11. Member fizay's Avatar
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      04-03-2020 04:13 PM #10
      do later year 80s have the nut sack AC vent? That thing is a god send for summer desert trails. And traffic.

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      04-03-2020 04:53 PM #11
      We need more threads like this. Cruiser + Miata is the dream garage, and Colorado is the place to enjoy 'em both!

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      04-03-2020 05:16 PM #12
      I Chungus

    14. Member 1x1's Avatar
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      04-03-2020 05:22 PM #13
      Is your plan to keep it mostly stock?

      Here is my '96.




    15. Member Roketdriver's Avatar
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      04-03-2020 06:01 PM #14
      Quote Originally Posted by PoorHouse View Post
      Nice looking truck.

      I dailied a '97 LX for 7 years and 80k miles. Was an awesome truck. I'd still be driving it but we bought a camper and it wasn't a great tow vehicle.

      Shift it manually, if you aren't already,, to keep it in the power band. It will feel a lot peppier, and pull passes like a boss.
      I have no plans on towing so I should be safe there. I'll take it out of overdrive and press the "power" button when I'm going up and over 70, sometimes I manually throw it into 2nd. Helps a lot and the engine doesn't seem to mind being in the 3-4k rev range.


      Quote Originally Posted by Pizza Cat View Post
      Excellent

      Another owner up where our cabin is has this gen LC as his 'cabin' vehicle. Flys in from California, gets the LC out of storage in Billings, and then he has his truck for the weeks/month he's up there. One day I would love to do something similar. Just drive a regular car out there, and then have our fun old truck for the cabin. Right now, its an Atlas instead

      But you have a cabin! I could think of worse things to drive than an Atlas.


      Quote Originally Posted by Sporin View Post
      I had an FJ62 before that and the 80 felt very much liek the best version of that formula. The 100-series goes to IFS but it's not something that would hold me back offroad, I'm not doing king of the hammers.
      One of my roommates has a pair of 60 series, they're really cool rigs. I don't think I'd mind having IFS with the type of wheeling I'm doing, but the solid axle articulation is really nice to have.


      Quote Originally Posted by fizay View Post
      do later year 80s have the nut sack AC vent? That thing is a god send for summer desert trails. And traffic.
      Yes they do! Best vent in the car.


      Quote Originally Posted by johntesi View Post
      We need more threads like this. Cruiser + Miata is the dream garage, and Colorado is the place to enjoy 'em both!



      Quote Originally Posted by Gitcha Sum View Post
      I Chungus
      Chungus you too



      Quote Originally Posted by 1x1 View Post
      Is your plan to keep it mostly stock?

      Here is my '96.
      That's the plan! The mods I've considered include a rear locker and a winch. I'm usually heading out solo which means I'll need to be able to get myself unstuck.

      The '96 looks great! I really like the tailgate storage, I may have to do something similar. My current storage solution is a cargo organizer and wire shelf bolted to where the 3rd row used to be:

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    16. Member Pnuu's Avatar
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      04-03-2020 06:17 PM #15
      If any Toyota SUV is worthy of the name Chungus, it's an 80.

      These are definitely the Chonkiest of bois, 6k lb in stock form and once you start building them 7k happens pretty quickly. I'll still always like them as well and somewhat regret passing on a couple in the past.

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      04-03-2020 06:54 PM #16
      Love this thread I've owned Jeep JK/JKUs and now a 1500. I think the LX/Land Cruiser is going to be the best option for my next truck/suv. Your adventure pics are also good motivation to move out west! Thanks for sharing, looking forward to updates!

    18. Member kiznarsh's Avatar
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      04-04-2020 06:16 PM #17
      May Chungus never stop chuggin'.

      Is that heater hose the same "hose from hell" on the 3SGTE? Mine was fortunately replaced before I got my MR2. I imagine with such a ride height and large engine bay with an I-6, working on it isn't too bad, right?

      I prefer smaller cars but the thought of having something like this for the mountains is really fun. Right tool for the job, as they say.

      Glad you're enjoying it.

    19. How do I resize a picture? Cabin Pics's Avatar
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      04-04-2020 08:56 PM #18
      Oh boy, I do like this.

      Thanks for making a thread!
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    20. 04-04-2020 10:31 PM #19
      This is giving me so many ideas for my GX..

      Love how long lived these things are.

    21. Member Roketdriver's Avatar
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      04-06-2020 02:39 PM #20
      Quote Originally Posted by Pnuu View Post
      If any Toyota SUV is worthy of the name Chungus, it's an 80.

      These are definitely the Chonkiest of bois, 6k lb in stock form and once you start building them 7k happens pretty quickly. I'll still always like them as well and somewhat regret passing on a couple in the past.
      I felt it was a fitting name! The weight of these things is REALLY felt while driving. It's not too late to snag one! Although prices on the clean ones are starting to climb, and good modified ones are commanding a pretty crazy premium. I don't plan on selling anytime soon, but I'm sure I'd get what I paid for it if I keep it in good shape.



      Quote Originally Posted by Hufeisen View Post
      Love this thread I've owned Jeep JK/JKUs and now a 1500. I think the LX/Land Cruiser is going to be the best option for my next truck/suv. Your adventure pics are also good motivation to move out west! Thanks for sharing, looking forward to updates!
      Thanks! Moving out west is a good call, I'm glad I did it.




      Quote Originally Posted by kiznarsh View Post
      May Chungus never stop chuggin'.

      Is that heater hose the same "hose from hell" on the 3SGTE? Mine was fortunately replaced before I got my MR2. I imagine with such a ride height and large engine bay with an I-6, working on it isn't too bad, right?

      I prefer smaller cars but the thought of having something like this for the mountains is really fun. Right tool for the job, as they say.

      Glad you're enjoying it.
      It's probably similar - is the hose from hell on the 3SGTE also super buried? Must be a Toyota thing.



      Quote Originally Posted by Cabin Pics View Post
      Oh boy, I do like this.

      Thanks for making a thread!
      Thank you!


      Quote Originally Posted by Ilikewaffles View Post
      This is giving me so many ideas for my GX..

      Love how long lived these things are.
      If you really want to get inspired, the IH8Mud forums are an absolute rabbit hole. The things people do with these is amazing. I just got done looking at an airbagged 80 on 42's built in a storage container workshop in Russia. Really cool stuff.
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      04-06-2020 02:42 PM #21
      I've never owned an automatic car, but if I were to, the 80 series LC is on that very short list. I love the pictures! Keep them coming!

    23. Millennial Pizza Cat's Avatar
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      04-06-2020 02:51 PM #22
      Quote Originally Posted by Roketdriver View Post
      But you have a cabin! I could think of worse things to drive than an Atlas.
      It is great for that - for everything else it sucks.


      Seriously, I love these rigs so much. One day.
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    24. Member Pnuu's Avatar
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      04-06-2020 03:08 PM #23
      Quote Originally Posted by Roketdriver View Post
      I felt it was a fitting name! The weight of these things is REALLY felt while driving. It's not too late to snag one! Although prices on the clean ones are starting to climb, and good modified ones are commanding a pretty crazy premium. I don't plan on selling anytime soon, but I'm sure I'd get what I paid for it if I keep it in good shape.

      ...

      If you really want to get inspired, the IH8Mud forums are an absolute rabbit hole. The things people do with these is amazing. I just got done looking at an airbagged 80 on 42's built in a storage container workshop in Russia. Really cool stuff.
      While I will always love 60s and 80s, I don't really have a need for one anymore. My Tacoma is better at doing dumb stuff in the woods, a small truck on 37s is much better to squeeze through the tight spots we have in the PNW. And my GX470 does almost everything else... except tow the Taco, and haul everything that we need to bring on a long family camping trip (we pack..... heavy. LOL)

      My next purchase will be a domestic 3/4 ton 4x4 something-or-other, with the fate of the Lexus TBD. Unless I happen to find an 80 on 1 ton axles with an LQ4 swap.

      You've already found the best place for 80 knowledge. 'Mud has the best group of Toyota 4x4 nerds in one spot, most of my truck friends are on there as well. We're all just a little biased torwards Toyota.
      Last edited by Pnuu; 04-06-2020 at 06:15 PM.

    25. Senior Member bzcat's Avatar
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      04-06-2020 05:37 PM #24
      80 series is my favorite landy

    26. Member Roketdriver's Avatar
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      04-07-2020 03:11 PM #25
      Quote Originally Posted by Raguvian View Post
      I've never owned an automatic car, but if I were to, the 80 series LC is on that very short list. I love the pictures! Keep them coming!
      This is my first automatic in years, and I have got to say - there's a lot of manual control. I don't feel like it's in need of a clutch pedal, but manual 80's do exist! I'll scrounge up more photos to post soon.


      Quote Originally Posted by Pizza Cat View Post
      It is great for that - for everything else it sucks.


      Seriously, I love these rigs so much. One day.
      What's stopping you from pulling the trigger on one? Selling the Atlas would give you the funds for a well sorted 80 and all the maintenance needed for the foreseeable future.



      Quote Originally Posted by Pnuu View Post
      While I will always love 60s and 80s, I don't really have a need for one anymore. My Tacoma is better at doing dumb stuff in the woods, a small truck on 37s is much better to squeeze through the tight spots we have in the PNW. And my GX470 does almost everything else... except tow the Taco, and haul everything that we need to bring on a long family camping trip (we pack..... heavy. LOL)

      My next purchase will be a domestic 3/4 ton 4x4 something-or-other, with the fate of the Lexus TBD. Unless I happen to find an 80 on 1 ton axles with an LQ4 swap.

      You've already found the best place for 80 knowledge. 'Mud has the best group of Toyota 4x4 nerds in one spot, most of my truck friends are on there as well. We're all just a little biased torwards Toyota.
      I haven't been running in many places with tight squeezes, nor do I plan to. For as large of a vehicle as it is, I am surprised by how well I can parallel park it

      'Mud is something else. I posted a coolant leak and within hours someone had posted the part number I needed. I should buy a sticker or something.



      Quote Originally Posted by bzcat View Post
      80 series is my favorite landy
      Me too
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