From FJs to Ferraris, Miami-based The FJ Company seemingly has it all.
A warehouse tucked away in the bowels of Miami; unassuming in its green facade, with a barely noticeable sign above the door. It reads “Classic Motors LLC,” and without direction, it would blur into the surrounding shops and restaurants without a second thought.
If I wouldn’t have been invited, I would have driven right past it. I’m glad I didn’t, because inside is what most enthusiasts would consider 4x4 heaven. Something similar to ICON, except more original, more pristine, something about the shop just… overwhelms your senses, more so than any other.
The FJ Company is not just unassuming in its appearance, but also in name. They’re all about Land Cruisers, obviously. Or more specifically, classic Toyota FJ Land Cruisers, some of the most desirable 4x4s on the planet. It’s run by two brothers: Nelson and Juan Diego Calle.
If that second name sounds familiar, you might know him as the Founder and former CEO of the .CO top-level domain extension. He, along with his brother Nelson grew up in Miami, after immigrating from Colombia. Though technology may have been Juan’s first venture, cars are what drove his passion (pun intended).
The FJ Company was founded seven years ago with a mission to expertly restore one of the most iconic vehicles on the planet, the Toyota FJ Land Cruiser. It started out humbly enough, using their grandfather’s FJ40 as a jumping off point. From there, it caught fire. The company currently pumps out close to 40 vehicles a year, even with a nine-12 month build time. And these things are pristine. For a basic, no-nonsense “Classic FJ40,” you get unparalleled quality all for around $55,000. That comes standard with front disc brakes, a roll cage, power steering, and a brand new suspension.
Of course it’s off-road ready, but more comfortable on the road and more up to the task of handling day-to-day activities (i.e.: grocery shopping, picking up the kids from school). If you don’t believe that, Juan drives his beautiful blue FJ40 daily, two Recaro child seats in the back and all. The car is completely stripped down to the frame, the engine and transmission are painstakingly rebuilt, and parts are sourced either from a donor car, or from anywhere they can find them. Thankfully, seven years of hard work has built up a pretty reputable network of suppliers.
After all is said and done, the buyer gets their vehicle, along with a coffee table book highlighting each and every aspect of the build; from the bare bones to the final product. If you look at the image galleries of completed Land Cruisers on their site, it shows you exactly that (or you can build your own). It’s that obsessive attention to detail that makes a Land Cruiser from The FJ Company that much more special. Those are the nitty gritty details. And it’s hard, truly, to put these amazing machines into words, because technicality only comes second to passion – and these two brothers have it in spade.
Plenty of people have the idea to take a vehicle and restore it from the ground up. Fewer have the know how to do it and do it well. Even fewer still do it with a sense of purpose and affection that this shop does. Dotting the facility were some of the most stunning vehicles I had ever seen. A BMW 2002 Turbo and a one-of-three silver M1 sat side by side. An original NSX was tucked away in the back diagonal to a Z8 Alpina. Hell, when I walked in I nearly ran into a Ford GT. But the centerpiece, of course, being a few beautiful Land Cruisers.
After a quick jaunt down the street in a beautiful, green ’78, drawing plenty of pointing from onlookers, it was apparent that, at their core, these guys love waking up every morning and doing what they do. It’s not about the prestige, it’s not about the accolades – it’s about passion. So when ‘experts' talk about the 'end of the enthusiast,' and people 'not appreciating cars anymore,' I’ll send them to the FJ Company for a quick lesson in loving the automobile again.