Dave Evans, BJ40 restorer and Hilux superfan

Pull into Dave Evans’s driveway and the first thing you see is a gleaming blue, 2019 Toyota Hilux Invincible Double Cab. Dave is a carpenter on the Isle of Wight and uses the 2.4-litre diesel Hilux as a work vehicle. Parked to its left is a 2019 RAV4, bought at a year old with 9,000 miles on the clock. Now adorned with custom graphics, it’s the “completely trouble-free” base from which wife Louise runs her mobile hairdressing business. When you get chatting with Dave, however, you realise that this is no ordinary Toyota-owning family.

“I love Toyotas,” he admits. “The Hilux, an automatic, is my most recent one and they hold their money better than other pickups. But it’s not my first Hilux, that was a 1982 truck in bright yellow. It was a smaller truck then and we used to jack them up, with a roll bar in the bed and lights across the top. It was awesome, but I had to sell it to get a deposit together for our first flat! I also owned a Tercel 4WD Estate and a Hiace.”

Tucked away in extended garages and carports that Dave has built on just about every square inch of the front garden is a collection of vehicles that reflects his eclectic tastes. There are track cars, off-roaders, military vehicles and even a Dakar Rally motorcycle. He uses some of them to give Sporting Bears Dream Rides, raising money for children’s charities in the UK.

Toyota People: Dave Evans, BJ40 restorer and Hilux superfan
Immaculate blue Hilux nestles among the eclectic vehicle collection on Dave Evans’s driveway

Inevitably, there are more Toyotas in Dave’s fleet, with the stars of the show being two BJ40 Land Cruisers that he imported from Portugal. Others have Toyota connections. He notes that the 2011 Lotus Evora track car boasts a 276bhp, 3.5-litre, 2GR-FE V6 from the Camry, while his original, World War II Willys Jeep was a forerunner of the FJ40, of which the BJ40 is the diesel-powered variant.

“American Bantam designed the first Jeep, which was later made in greater numbers by Willys and Ford,” he explains. “During the war, Japanese forces captured a Bantam Jeep and Toyota reverse-engineered it to create the AK10, which was the predecessor of the first Land Cruiser.”

Toyota People: Dave Evans, BJ40 restorer and Hilux superfan
Much-loved 1982 Hilux with roll bar and spotlights was Dave’s first Toyota

Both of Dave’s BJ40s – one red with a white roof, one originally off-white but now gunmetal grey – was first registered in 1980, although the grey car is a ’79 model. It looked pretty good when it came to the Isle of Wight in 2015, but in Dave’s words, it had been stored outside and was a complete wreck. One of the hotspots in the head had cracked and dropped into the cylinder, bouncing around on top of the piston. It was too bad to drive so it sat in the garage for a year or so before I slowly began to dismantle it when time allowed and eventually started the rebuild. In 2018, I bought the red one to drive while I was working on the grey one”.

The red hardtop had a clean body, its rust having been repaired and its shell resprayed before it left Portugal. Only the firewall has been repainted since it arrived in the UK. But the now-grey BJ needed a body-off, nut-and-bolt restoration to return it to its former glory. Everything was removed, grit blasted and repaired as necessary before repainting and reassembly.

Toyota People: Dave Evans, BJ40 restorer and Hilux superfan
BJ40 pair: red hardtop and newly restored, grey open-top

“We had to make a lot of repairs to the frame and the bodywork,” he says. “The front-nearside corner was squashed in from a heavy impact, but we straightened out the bumper and the bonnet and the only new piece of metal is the front wing. If this were a supercar then everything would have to be perfect, but with old trucks, you can get away with leaving in a little ding or dent here and there. It’s a badge of honour!”

Dave rebuilt the grey BJ’s engine, too, and then used the leftover parts to refresh the red car’s smoky motor as well. As elsewhere, he did most of the work himself, but friends and contacts are always on hand when he needs a professional’s knowledge, such as to seat new liners in the block. Like the red BJ, the grey car still has its original engine.

Red BJ40 was bought in ready-to-drive condition while work continued on the grey car

“Some people put the 4.2-litre, six-cylinder diesel in,” he considers. “I’m sure the extra power would be nice, but I like having the original engines. The 3-litre, four-cylinder B engine is very basic and only makes 80bhp. It has a big radiator and a massive fan that saps lots of energy, but it’s tough as old boots.

“The handling doesn’t compare to a modern truck like my Hilux,” he adds. “The steering is all over the place. But back in 1980, BJ40s would have been great for chugging across the savanna. And as the saying goes, other four-wheel-drives will get you there, but a Toyota will get you there and back again!”

Looks can be deceptive. Off-white (now grey) BJ40 required ground-up restoration following its import from Portugal

Dave notes how the 40-Series Land Cruiser changed comparatively little from its introduction in 1960 to its replacement by the 70-Series in 1984, with just about everything except the engine shared between the FJ40 and BJ40. There are relatively few of either in the UK, with spares usually needing to be sourced from the Continent – a process that has become more costly since Brexit. As a result, he chose to fabricate the BJ’s rollbar himself rather than import one from Portugal. Dave’s workmanship, as it is everywhere else, is fantastic.

He still has the grey BJ’s original hardtop and ‘ambulance’ rear doors but chose to finish it as a soft-top off-roader, with the appropriate tools and panels mounted to the side of the cage. At the time of our visit, he was finishing up installing new injectors and planning a rear-spring fix to level the ride height, before finally putting some miles on this beautiful, 18-month restoration.

Rebuilt 3-litre diesel awaiting reinstallation into the red BJ40


  1. Absolutely love my BJ40. Unfortunately it is a Borneo vehicle and I use it over there. Would like to import it into the UK but I think taxes may be prohibitive.
    Shame as I am only over the water from Dave in Southampton.

      1. Hello. I have a BJ73 in Spain with the bad VM 2.5 litre engine which gave out 15km from home after a 2000km trip round Morocco. (luckly I was back in Spain when it happened) The bottom end of the engine went through the side of engine casing so it’s properly dead. It’s my pride and joy and I can’t let it die so ideally need to try and source a better proper Toyota engine rather than try and fix the VM.
        It’s been told that 4.0 2H or the 3.4 3B engines will bolt straight in but trying to source one is the problem. Can anyone help or point me in the right direction ? Thanks Tobyn

  2. Hi just imported a bj40 from Sri Lanka
    Would like to purchase the correct wheels / hub caps any help as to where I could find these please

  3. My daughter has returned to uk after living in Dubai. She is thinking of buying a bj40 old truck but hates the big engine and 4speed gears can a smaller Diesel engine with a auto box be fitted. It will be only driven around a town and occasionally on a motorway .she has only ever driven autos . Thanks Terry

  4. I am having my 1978 BJ41 resprayed. I am replacing the badges with new ones, the old ones are scratched and faded.
    But my Toyota badge on the front grill has black letters with chrome edging, the diesel badge has red lettering and the rear Toyota badge has a black background.
    Only cream Toyota badges and black lettered Diesel badges are available.
    I queried this on the Facebook Series 40 group and was told that cream was original and black was never used and suggested mine were repainted. There is no sign that mine have been repainted, the colour looks original.
    With a lot of searching on line I have found a few with black Toyota badges and one with a red diesel badge so mine is not the only one!
    Do you know if black badges were used? Or do you know of an archive that would have this information?

    1. Hi Steve, thanks for your comment.

      This is not something we can arrange for you. However, we will approve your comment in case any other commenters have advice for you.

      Best of luck with your project!


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