by Eric Barton | June 3, 2019

Floridiana: The Story of One Florida Man and his 1967 FJ40 Toyota Land Cruiser

Cannon Gaskin of Jacksonville shares memories (and mishaps) of his old cruiser.

Cover model Noah Sanford with retrievers Piper and Star posing with a vintage red FJ cruiser.
Cover model Noah Sanford with retrievers Piper and Star. Photography by Mary Beth Koeth

On Superbowl Sunday a couple years ago, my wife Carolyn and I were out for a ride in my 1967 Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser when the fuel line broke. The gas ignited on the exhaust headers. I calmly looked over at Carolyn, who was holding her parent’s yorkie, and said, “Hey, y’all need to get out. The truck is on fire.”  

Carolyn went for help while I exhausted my extinguisher, only to have the fire keep reigniting. Just as I figured the whole truck was going to burn up, the coolant line exploded and extinguished the flames. I left the paint bubbled on the hood. It gives the truck character.

In 2008, I posted photos of it on an Internet forum and got an email from Chris Milewski, who had the FJ willed to him in 1992 by his grandfather. When Chris was 14, he and his father drove the truck from eastern Washington to Anchorage. They made lots of improvements, including a Chevrolet 350 small-block V8 and a lift kit. Chris was in college when he sold it in 2001 to a guy in Jacksonville. My father purchased it a year later, when I was 14. Throughout high school, I drove the FJ to school, a friend’s farm and the Lawtey Mud Bog. I still remember being stuck in the middle of the pit and some guy yelling: “Let me buy it before you break it!” 

Cannon Gaskin and his wife Carolyn in a vintage Red FJ Cruiser.
Cannon Gaskin and his wife Carolyn; Photography courtesy of Cannon Gaskin

Like Chris, I brought the FJ to college and took the hard top off as soon as I got to Wake Forest. It has never been back on since. It’s been a great truck for the past 17 years, with a few minor setbacks. In addition to the fire, one year I was bringing a Korean foreign exchange student home for Thanksgiving dinner when I lost the brakes. We added new discs after that. The truck has become more of a Jacksonville “street queen” recently, but there is nothing like cruising around in the open air. —CG 

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