Big Hand Crafted Four by Fours – Part Two

By Robert Gunn

Readers of MAR magazine will have been familiar with Robert’s contributions as an expert on pickup trucks. Since retirement he has been making a selection of 4×4 vehicles by hand which he will share with us over a series of articles. All photographs by, and copyright of, the Author.

The Models

The models are hand made to 1:10 scale. Each is a unique creation and when finished is displayed on a modelled plinth in a clear cabinet. Here we look at the second of my models the Toyota Land Cruiser FJ25 from 1958.

How the models are made

All have a softwood chassis of pine or deal. Most body sides are tempered hardboard, as are the floors, but bonnet lids are metal – either aluminium or or nickel-silver sheet. Rounded corners are of timber beading, usually hardwood. Small details are made of anything which suits from my huge boxes of bits – parts of old pens, pieces of metal or plastic, nuts and bolts, tubes and so on. Sticks of solder are good to file into manifolds, carburetors and similar. Windscreen frames are either brass sheets and strips, or latterly in sheet polystyrene plastic.

Parts which I can’t make are brought-in, such as wheels, tyres, mirrors, lights, and badges.

Glues used vary from white PVA (Woodworking Glue) through super glue, Scotch glue and others. “JB Kwik” two pack epoxy is also very useful stuff – a combined glue and filler.

Part Two – Toyota Land Cruiser FJ25 1958

Like Rover in the UK Toyota were a company with a strong engineering heritage from power looms onwards. By the 1950s they too had seen the need for a sturdy utility vehicle with “go anywhere”  capabilities. Indeed they were asked to build some Jeeps for the US military during the Korean War. The Land Cruiser series were Toyota’s equivalent to the Land Rover built in various configurations to meet a multitude of requirements.

FJ 25 pedals and gear levers depicted in great detail.

Completed FJ25 model shown on a turntable diorama with Sarah the farm girl. The figure started life as Jennifer Lawrence as “Katniss” in the Hunger Games, re-clothed by the Author.

This is the basic body: tempered hardboard and sheet metal bonnet in nickel silver. The bonnet was very hard to make.

The windscreen frame: all made from brass.

Trial assembly painted with primer coat. As well as checking the fit of the parts test assembly helps keep up enthusiasm on a long and complex project.

Toyota rear bumper, bolted together just like the real (steel) one.

Toyota spare wheel carrier, pinned and screwed from solid brass.

Toyota seats – Imitation leather from a charity shop handbag stretched over wooden ‘cushions’ with frames made from coat hanger wire.

Dash and steering wheel of the Toyota. The glovebox opens on tiny hinges.

Frontal view of the completed Toyota.

Nearside view of the completed vehicle. 

Left hand side of the completed vehicle showing the 4×4 stance. 

Rear view of the completed Toyota. A specialist made me the ‘Toyota’ badges, and he did a fine job. Even getting the slightly greenish -cream enamel infill colour exactly right. Thanks, Gary!

Toyota bonnet badge was filed from two pieces of real silver bought as scrap pieces from a jeweller. Strip along the bonnet centre line is also made from silver. 

The Land Cruiser’s engine bay with detailed engine and ancillary parts.

The bonnet displayed opened.

I made a working, fully functioning screw-pillar jack for the Toyota. the Frame is bent from thick nickel silver bars and the rest is built of adds and ends. The jack can actually be used to lift the model!  

Sarah checking the radiator.

Loading animal feed. Showing the working drop down tailgate.


Future articles by Robert will cover the following vehicles: Datsun Patrol L-60 1965; and the Land Rover Defender Heritage Edition 2016.


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