Each year, major automotive manufacturers task special teams with designing and fabricating special projects that are made behind closed doors and kept under wraps until Q4 rolls around and these factory-backed concepts and one-offs are presented to the motoring public and automotive industry at the Specialty Equipment Marketing Association Show — better known simply as “SEMA.” And with the SEMA Show now in full swing, we’re being treated to the fruits of these companies’ labor in the form of countless incredibly elaborate and wildly impressive one-offs. Unsurprisingly, some of our favorite projects once again came from Japanese marque Toyota, which has rolled out a series of custom-built trucks for the 2023 SEMA Show.
FJ Retro Cruiser
With Toyota now poised to re-release the Land Cruiser in the North American market, the company has opted to honor and celebrate the return of this legendary nameplate by brining back a particularly noteworthy turn-of-the-millennium FJ concept. Conjured up and penned by racing legend, MillenWorks founder, and vehicle designer Rod Millen, this one-of-one project is known as the FJ Retro Cruiser and first was shown back in 1999.
The project aimed to maintain the FJ’s iconic appearance while modernizing the vehicle beneath the surface using a host of components from the then-new 100 Series Land Cruiser including its 230-horsepower, 4.7-liter V-8, transfer case, brakes, locking differentials, and suspension setup. Ahead of SEMA, Toyota pulled this one-off concept from storage and treating it to be thoroughly reconditioning that included replacing a myriad of worn and used parts.
Tacoma X-Runner Concept
Christened the Tacoma X-Runner Concept, Toyota has also prepared a slammed sports truck that features a custom aero-equipped bodykit, an electronic locking differential, custom side-exiting exhausts, up-specced braking hardware, and a Tundra solid axle. The mid-size donor pickup has also been lowered by several inches, equipped with a much sportier and tighter suspension package, and outfitted with new wheels, tires, and fender flares to accommodate the new shoes and rubber.
At the heart of the X-Runner Concept is a specially-built, modified version of the all-new gen’s twin-turbocharged 3.4-liter i-FORCE V6 which has been tuned to now make 421hp and 479ft-lbs of tire-shredding torque. With a much lower center of gravity, an aero kit generating a substantial amount of additional downforce, and a twin-turbocharged V6 under its custom hood, this slammed Tacoma concept truly is worthy of wearing a Gazoo badge.
The most interesting of Toyota’s trio of SEMA builds is almost certainly what the marque has dubbed the FJ Bruiser. Built using a 1966 FJ45 pickup donor, this lifted and heavily-kitted Toyota concept takes ample inspiration from the ULTRA4 class racers that compete at events like the King of the Hammers. The concept is constructed around a custom full tube chassis and roll cage fitted with a full trailing arm suspension with FOX shocks, Eibach springs, and 20” Method bead-lock wheels wrapped in beefy 42” BFG Krawler T/A KX tires. Powering this one-off FJ is a 5.9-liter V8 NASCAR Cup Car engine that cranks out 725hp and allows for a top-speed of 165mph.
Mated to a a three-speed automatic race-built transmission courtesy of Rancho Drivetrain Engineering, this ultra-potent eight-banger features front and rear Currie differentials, an Advanced Adapter Atlas transfer case, and a custom MagnaFlow exhaust. Customized and completely reworked by the experts at Complete Customs, the interior of the FJ Bruiser sports a vintage 1968 Jackie Stewart championship steering wheel and custom MOMO Daytona EVO seats trimmed in body color-matched plaid upholstery.
Toyota’s FJ Bruiser, FJ Retro Cruiser, and Tacoma X-Runner Concept are all currently on display at the SEMA show in Las Vegas where they will remain until the trade show’s conclusion.