Toyota has built the ultimate off-road buggy — a vehicle that doesn’t have a winch because Toyota reckons it will never get stuck. How’s that? Well, it has humongous 42-inch rock-crawling tires, a flexy triangulated four-link coilover suspension front and rear, and a tank track on its belly. Yes, a tank track. Here’s a close look at Toyota’s ridiculous off-road creation.
To drum up hype for the new Land Cruiser, Toyota has gone mad and built a custom off-road menace called the FC Bruiser. It’s got some 1966 FJ body panels here and there (Toyota was careful to point out that it only used a few panels; it didn’t sacrifice a whole vintage FJ for this), but otherwise this machine is basically a hodgepodge of deeply badass parts like Currie solid axles, an Atlas transfer case, a custom tube chassis, a NASCAR cup-series 358 engine, and… a tank track.
OK, let’s get straight to the powered tank track, shall we? Look at this thing:
You can see that the tank track is flanked by some seriously thick (ABS?) plastic sliders. The idea with the whole system is to get the vehicle off of a boulder that might prevent the wheels from gaining traction (i.e. it gets the FJ Bruiser out of a high-center situation). Here’s some info on the Tank Track, via Toyota:
Should ground clearance ever become an issue, the team replaced the center skid plate with a tank-like track system that can be used to power out of any high centered situation. The CAMSO® track is controlled from the cockpit, so the driver can stay securely seated; no need to unstrap and find something to tie off the winch. Tank mode can be activated with the push of a button.
Ahead of and behind the tank track are triangulated four-link coilover suspensions. What this means is: There are two lower arms and two upper arms, like what you see in a Jeep Wrangler. But unlike a Jeep Wrangler, there is no track bar to limit the side-to-side motion of the solid axle — instead, the upper control arms (which, together with the lowers, help prevent the axle from rotating/twisting) are pointed inwards on the axle side. There’s one upper control arm on each side of the vehicle, pointing towards the center of the axle to create a triangle; this works to limit the lateral motion of the axle.
Here’s a look at the front suspension, with a triangulated upper control arm pointed out (the triangular shape of the rear upper control arm orientation is obvious on the left side of the picture above):
And here’s the rear suspension:
Here’s a hydraulic jounce bumper from the bottom (this is the reflection from a mirror on the floor).
Here are some huge, long-travel coilovers, using Eibach springs and Fox dampers:
And here, below a hole in the trailing arm (note that the trailing arms are quite a bit different than the front lower control arms, but they do largely the same thing) on the driver’s side, there appears to be a chain and sprocket, presumably for the tank-track mechanism.
This triangulated four-link is a fairly typical suspension for an off-road buggy, though the way Toyota has built it appears to be beefy and quite expensive. Luckily, Toyota seems to have worked with a number of brand partners on this build.
Up front is a NASCAR 358 cubic inch, 725 horsepower V8 jammed in the center of a tube frame that holds the tops of the long-travel Fox/Eibach coilovers. (We’ll be embedding a video of the engine revving through its MagnaFlow exhaust shortly after this post is published).
Toyota Motorsports Garage replaced the FJ’s original bench seat with buckets. I dig the plaid, but I’m a bench-seat man, even if I realize that in a King-Of-The-Hammers type build like this, a bench seat would be a nightmare.
Notice the automatic shifter. Bolted to that NASCAR motor is a three-speed automatic racing transmission by Rancho Drivetrain Engineering. That’s hooked to an Atlas transfer case that lets you use low-range (actually, four unique speeds) in either two or four-wheel drive. “This set-up allows FJ Bruiser to crawl at 12 mph revving to 7,000 rpm in the lowest gear and all the way up to 165 mph at that same 7,000 rpm engine speed in highest gear,” Toyota writes in its press release.
Toyota calls the FJ Bruiser “an unstoppable rock crawling beast that can go virtually anywhere.” I think that’s mostly true; I mean, 42-inch BF Goodrich Krawlers on Method Beadlock wheels, a ridiculously powerful engine, Currie diffs, an Atlas transfer case, a flexy triangulated four-link coilover suspension, tons of ground clearance, basically no overhangs, armor, and a tank track? That’s a great recipe for unstoppability.
I do think the tank track seems a bit narrow; I could imagine the truck getting stuck on those wide plastic sliders and that small tank track not getting enough grip to pull the truck out (especially since the track doesn’t appear to protrude far below those sliders). I also think the biggest thing holding the FJ Bruiser back from going “virtually anywhere” is its size. The thing is huge!
But for the most part, all the hardware is there to make this thing virtually unstoppable. And also badass. By the way, if you want to watch the build series for the FJ Bruiser, here’s a look: