Sale of the Week

An FJ Cruiser sold for more than $100k for the first time. It won't be the last.

by Adam Wilcox
2 September 2022 3 min read
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Photo by Bring a Trailer/etsonaut

A 245-mile, never-titled 2014 Toyota FJ Cruiser Trail Teams Ultimate Edition just sold for $108,000 after fees on Bring a Trailer—and it’s not even a 6-speed.

If you can’t fathom what would drive a person to pay $108k for an eight-year-old Toyota, you clearly haven’t been keeping tabs on the cult following for this off-roader. Don’t worry, we have. The trucks have been appreciating fast in recent years, reaping the double benefit of being both a later Japanese car and looking like a vintage truck—two extremely hot segments.

The FJ Cruiser is Toyota’s most unique off-roader—a rugged, purpose built truck with personality, something most Toyotas desperately lack. With a 10-inch ground clearance, it could ford a 27.5-inch deep river in stock form. The FJ Cruiser was a breath of fresh air for Toyota enthusiasts at a time when the Land Cruiser morphed into a capable but bland-looking mall-crawler.

Indeed, although the FJ Cruiser is not officially a Land Cruiser, but can be thought of as a spiritual successor to the original FJ40, which it takes many design cues from. Based on the 4Runner chassis but with a 4-inch shorter wheelbase, it uses the same 4.0-liter V-6 and many of the same suspension components.

As with so many classics, but latter-day Japanese stuff in particular, certain special-edition models seem to get lots of hype and mega bucks. In the FJ Cruiser world, there’s an aura around limited-production Trail Teams Editions, which were made from 2008 to 2014 (excluding 2009) and featured an upgraded Bilstein suspension and a special monochromatic color scheme that changed each year. For 2014, the final year of FJ Cruiser production, Toyota made 2,500 Trail Teams Ultimate Editions with Heritage Blue paint and a white grille to resemble a popular color combo on the original FJ40. Off-road performance was further improved with an external reservoir rear suspension system and aluminum TRD skid plates that improved the approach angle.

It was basically guaranteed a 2014 Trail Teams Ultimate Edition would be the first FJ Cruiser to break the $100k barrier. FJ Cruiser values have been climbing rapidly along with all other Toyota off-roaders. The median sales price for the Trail Teams Edition increased 20 percent in the last year alone. Even base models with high mileage are selling above $20k.

No longer isolated to cult-status, the FJ Cruiser hit the mainstream in late-2020. Classic car auctions went from selling two or three FJ Cruisers a year to selling nearly 10 per month as values rose, spurred on by the rising popularity of modern Toyota Land Cruisers among collectors.

The FJ40 has always been king, seeing much of its value gained while the FJ Cruiser was in production. When the FJ Cruiser was first released, an original FJ40 in concours (#1) condition was worth $26,200. By the time the last FJ Cruisers hit dealer lots, that same FJ40 was a six-figure truck.

In recent years, later Land Cruisers started to gain attention as buyers sought cheaper (and arguably better) alternatives to the FJ40. Most notably, the FJ80 has seen a 67 percent value increase since the start of 2021. Much like surging values for early air-cooled 911s drove Porschephiles first to 993s and, more recently, to 996s, the rise of the original FJ40 increased attention to the more modern Land Cruiser models and, ultimately, to the FJ Cruiser.

This $108,000 FJ Cruiser had been in the Tennessee Toyota dealer's possession since new, where it sat and waited while the market grew, gaining $68k in value over its $39,753 window sticker in just 8 short years.

Bidding in the final minutes went back and forth in minor increments to $75,500. Then, "headbean1" threw a hail-Mary bid of $103,000, abruptly ending the auction. The woman who won the auction has had her eye on a low-mile FJ Cruiser for a while now, having been outbid on five others on Bring a Trailer within the last year.

It's hard to say where the market will go from here but assume this won't be the last FJ Cruiser to break $100k—we've made that mistake before. We thought it was a fluke when a 1k-mile 1994 Toyota Land Cruiser FZJ80 sold for $141,000. Then just a year later, a 1997 Land Cruiser FZJ80 with 13k miles sold for $140k.

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Comments

  • Jon Russell says:

    Good luck with old Toyotas. They rust from the inside out on all the major structural supports: frame, suspension, steering components…you name it.
    Because it starts inside virtually all of the tubular components, you can’t prevent it and you won’t know it is happening until the non repairable damage was done. Just scrapped my well maintained, garaged and impeccable running 03 Runner 4.7 limited.
    This was the 3rd Japanese vehicle I have had to abandon in my lifetime. The first was a Datsun 240z. Immaculate until my foot went through the floor one day exposing a cancer that engulfed the frame. The second was a 88 4 Runner ltd. Shame on me.

    I will NEVER touch another Japanese vehicle no matter how good it looks or drives on the surface.

    • HARRY VLAVIANOS says:

      Sorry to hear about all the rust problems you’ve had, do you live in an area where they salt the roads in winter? I used to live in NJ, and the road salt was murder on cars.

    • Andy Killian says:

      They don’t rust if you keep them out of the salt. They also don’t rust when there kept inside and not driven. That’s why the old cars that’s original and not rusty bring a lot of money.

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