80s on the 'Con
80s on the 'Con

80s on the 'Con

August 5-8, 2003

When I heard a small group of 80 Series Land Cruiser owners were planning to take their luxury SUVs through the Rubicon trail I knew I had to be there. I've wheeled my '93 FZJ80 Land Cruiser enough to know these capable vehicles would be up to the task. However, I also knew the risk of body damage would be high. This would not be a trip for the faint of heart...READ MORE
- Jim Brantley

I know there are many people who are wondering if the 80's were able to finish the Rubicon Trail. I am here to tell you that they did...READ MORE - Andy Pollock

Good report Andrew, and pretty complete. I will just add that nobody came away totally unscathed. I bent a slider and have a small scratch on the lower inch of my ps rear fender flare and a small scratch on the drivers side front fender flare, and of course the obligatory pinstriping. I feel very lucky to have only that. All it takes is a little body sway in the wrong spot, or being a little jittery on the gas after a little night before wine. Nick would have gone through clean except for that pencil sized root he decided to move with his bullbar. He did not realize it was the trigger mechanism for a mouse trap style tree. Upon touching the root the tree snapped over and onto his drivers side fender. Luckily not much of a dent for the size of the tree. There was only one mud hole and Andrew, Derek and Doug showed me the line and it was easy. Then, of course Heather takes her own way and plays in the mud for a bit. I do have a good pic of the Hocker 80 in the mud. It was really fun watching Heather wheel the 80, with John, when it was his turn to ride shotgun, being nonplussed and looking cool as a cucumber,. I figured after getting to Rubicon springs we were about done. Wrong! Cadillac Hill had a few surprises.
- Sean, B.C. Canada

On the first day somehow I got to be trail leader. Things went fine on the first half of Wentworh Springs. Then I missed a turn.... READ MORE - Alvaro Rodriguez

What a trip!!!! We made it home late last night suffering only from a case of numb butt. The cruiser on the other hand, is feeling a bit crunched. We talked to it a bit and thanked it for a super performance. Never underestimate the meek and timid, 3 FE. We may not get there quickly, but we will climb over it once we do.

We had a fantastic time, with a great group of people, in an awesomely beautiful place and look forward to doing it again as soon as possible. We hated to leave and are having a hard time trying to get back into non-cruiser life. Now, we are off to the body shop, the machine shop and Home Depot, to put the thing into a true beater state.
- John and Heather Hocker, Arizona

80 Series Land Cruisers on the Rubicon
by Jim Brantley

When I heard a small group of 80 Series Land Cruiser owners were planning to take their luxury SUVs through the Rubicon trail I knew I had to be there. I've wheeled my '93 FZJ80 Land Cruiser enough to know these capable vehicles would be up to the task. However, I also knew the risk of body damage would be high. This would not be a trip for the faint of heart.

Nonetheless, there was no shortage of daring souls up to the challenge. Aside from being capable vehicles on the trail, these Land Cruisers are great on the road and this trip attracted people from Colorado, Arizona and Canada. They came to test their rigs and themselves against the Sierra's granite boulders. There was one trailer queen, Christo Slee's bobbed 80 Series cruiser know as "Short Bus" coming from Colorado. To round out the group a FJ40, FJ60 and a Mini-Truck joined the fun. Counting the "locals" from California there was at least a dozen rigs. Derek Lee, moderator of the Norcal 80 Series mailing list stepped up to organize and coordinate the details of this first ever 80 Series Rubicon run.

The group began arriving Tuesday evening at Wentworth Springs campground. The next morning everyone was up early and breaking camp fast, anxious to begin wheeling this historic trail. Tires were aired down, gear secured and shifters placed in low range. It didn't take long for things to get interesting and the drivers quickly began pressing buttons and turning dials, locking center diffs and axles.

Before continuing with this trail report, I need to come clean and admit that I did not take my beloved '93 FZJ80 cruiser "Ruby" on this trip. There was little doubt Ruby was up to the task, however, since I recently added Marlin Cralwer's ToyBox gear reduction system to my '86 FJ60 "Knuckles" I just had to drive it. It's a tough choice between two capable cruisers, but the fact is I've built Knuckles for this type of wheeling so it got the call. Still, my affinity for the 80 Series cruisers is strong so I'm very glad I could join this group.

I can't say enough about the courage of the 80 Series drivers, most of whom had never seen the Rubicon Trail. Everyone did great. Working hard to avoid damage but not fretting too long after receiving their own personalized Rubicon trophy. Halfway through the first day of wheeling the group was moving down the trail like seasoned pros. It was about this time we arrived at the turn off to the "Old Sluice" portion of the trail. This is my favorite part of the trail. The alternative is to descend toward Buck Island Lake via the "slabs". The slabs being the easier and more traveled route.

It may be the narrowness of the trail, the interesting rock formations or the beautiful views that make the Old Sluice so appealing. Certainly it feels much less traveled than the rest of the trail. Motoring along the trail one should become suspicious about this too good to be true part of the Rubicon. There is a reason this part of the trail is bypassed by most travelers and it comes at the end of a long narrow rock bound sluice. The trail is narrow and rough, turning around or backing up is not an option. So when you finally see the huge rock blocking the middle of the trail your pulse quickens - or stops.

I had been here before and I honestly tried to accurately represent the difficulty of this part of the trail. I wanted my friends to have enough information to make their own choice: Slabs or Old Sluice. I knew the answer for Pat Takash and his "Elephant" FZJ80 on 37-inch MTRs. I had followed Pat at last year's Rubithon and I knew he really wanted to drive this part of the trail. Of course Christo would want to take the Short Bus through and likewise Ben and his "seasoned" mini-truck. However, I really wasn't counting on seeing the Hocker's and their Mighty 3FE powered FJ80 or Robbie in his "almost stock" FZJ80. Fortunately, everyone had a good attitude and accepted their trophies with dignity.

I don't think the Old Sluice ever had this much Araco steel slammed against it. The Sierra granite was tough and extracted its toll on the cruisers but the cruisers fought back hard and managed to rearrange some granite in return. It was certainly a clash of the titans and the outcome could only be called a draw. Everyone, including the rocks, will forever bare the scars of this battle.

Eventually everyone was through and we met the rest of the group at the Buck Island Lake camp. Needless to say, the adrenaline was pumping and the beer never tasted so good.

Hope you enjoy the pictures. - Jim