Michele’s New FJ Cruiser

Michele Forto FJ Cruiser Fortos Fort

About seven years ago my husband and I brought home our first FJ. A 2007 that was well worn and completely stock. It took a few years but he finally got it set up the way he likes it. While we both enjoy it, I’m always the passenger. It’s a manual transmission, which I can drive but if I’m honest not that well, like I may have gotten it stuck backing up and falling into a ditch, burned up the clutch. Luckily that is the only major repair that has needed to be done.

I’ve driven a 2001 Chevy Silverado for about 8 years, it’s reliable and has nearly 230k miles. But it’s for work purposes and not modified at all. I’ve been sending hints for years that I want a Tacoma or a Tundra and keep being told – no. Unbeknownst to me that my husband wanted to find me an FJ too!

In October he drove past one of the dealers here and spied this black FJ. He immediately told me to stop by and take a look, of course, I argued and said what for and all that. So I stopped. I noticed immediately how clean it was. Absolutely no rust, no dirt, nary a scratch underneath. What the hell I thought. We live in Alaska, how in the hell is this that clean. Freakin mall crawler? Garaged? What a waste. Sales guy ventures out while I’m looking and asks if I’m interested, uh yeah! Said it was literally just bought by the dealer and hadn’t even been inventoried or cleared by the mechanics. I said I’ll put a deposit on it to hold it while all that is done so I can test drive it and make an offer first.


Weeks went by…lots of phone calls…so many the sales guy dreaded talking to me and began texting!  Turned out that the lift that was done on this 2013 with 75k on it hadn’t been done exact and caused feathering on the tires (they didn’t go all out here, in fact, the tires are garbage), alignment was out, tie-rods trashed, rotors bent, brakes, AC not cold enough, but zero engine issues. So we agreed to let them fix it all with the agreement we’d purchase with an offer of $32k and they include all the repairs. And…yes we waited on parts.

Four days ago we drove it off the lot and still drove away under blue book at a final cost of $33,284.

Had my husband drive it the 30 miles home in the dark on icy roads – he’s got some concerns and wanted to ensure my safety. Figured out that it’s loose in the rear, tight in the front, tires suck, and he’s used to his 07 manual with mods!

My first thoughts behind the wheel….brought me back to 2000 when we were dating and decided to go into business together and the first purchase was a 1985 Ford Bronco – rode rough as hell. This 2013 FJ isn’t as smooth as our 07 but I certainly felt like I had returned to my natural element behind the wheel of a badass truck roaring down the highway. It definitely has some play in the handling that hopefully can be corrected with better tires. In my defense, I’ve been driving a 2017 Fiat 500xp!

Cannot wait to get it set up with our rooftop tent, put a fat-tire bike rack on the back and take it beach camping this summer in Homer, Alaska.

But the first point of order, it needs some rock sliders so I can climb into it a little better since I’m seriously short at 5’1″. Then address the tires, rear bumper, front bumper needs to be hefty enough for moose remediation and of course outfitted with a decent wench. Our 07 has a snorkel and in our negative temps it helps remarkably well, believe it or not with cold starts and fuel economy. Robert will outfit a classy upgraded sound system and a few more creature comforts inside. We are thinking about adding a mount so I can record some videos with tips and tricks about dog training advice, what to see and do in Alaska, and of course the possibility of a weekly rant.

This one’s got work but we’re gonna enjoy it and it’s my daily driver!  The kid got the 2017 Fiat 500xp that I’ve been driving, zippy little car that I’ll miss but definitely looking forward to finally having my very own Toyota!

Now to convince him to let me black out the whole damn thing!