Having one successful storage box build behind me for my old Jeep YJ Wrangler, it was time to build a storage box for my Toyota FJ80 Land Cruiser. The storage box I built for my Wrangler was very simple. It was basically a box with one very large divided drawer that was bolted into the cargo area in place of the rear seat. In the storage box, I was able to store and provide easy access to all my tools, spare parts, recovery gear and spare fluids. Having all the above gear stored in a storage box allowed me to carry additional stuff (tent, sleeping bag, food, cooler, clothing, etc) on top of the storage box, basically doubling the cargo space. Gone were the days of having everything piled on top of other stuff. With the storage box, with a little creative packing, I even had room for my dog to ride in the back.
I purchased my 80-series Land Cruiser to be able to carry my family, my dog, and my adventure gear. The only way that this was practically going to happen was by building a storage box for the back of the Land Cruiser. In addition to the extra storage capacity, my needs list included an interior sleeping platform for my solo camping trips as well as having a place to install an auxiliary battery for my FJ80. Unlike the newer models (1993-97) of the 80-series Land Cruiser, there is no easy way to install the second battery on a 3FE powered (1991-92) FJ80 without heavily modifying the engine compartment components.
Before building the storage box for my Land Cruiser, I conducted some research on the Internet as to what others had done or wished they had done for their storage box. One feature that stood out was the ability to access the storage box from a flip up lid in case you needed access from within the Land Cruiser or your tailgate was up against an object and could not be accessed.
After taking measurements of the Land Cruiser storage area and drawing out a rough set of plans, I went to work on the storage box build. The overall dimensions of the storage box are 43 inches wide x 40.25 inches deep x 10.5 inches high. With the exception of the bottom of the storage box, the box was constructed with 3/4 inch plywood (the bottom is 1/2 inch plywood). I used wood glue and screws to fasten the storage box together. All materials that I used were purchased from the local home improvement store.
I placed a divider down the center of the storage box to eliminate any sagging when stacking outdoor gear on top of the box (a problem on my Jeep Wrangler cargo box). On the passenger side of the storage box, I made a compartment to house an auxiliary battery and fuse block (more on that in another article).
On the top of the storage box, I made flip up doors to access the contents of the box (one for the battery compartment and one for each side of the divider). I used a pair basic hinges for each access door. I would have used a piano-style hinge but I could not find the correct size to fit the dimensions I needed. For a handle, I used a simple piece of webbing to provide a means of opening each flip up lid.
I finished the bare plywood with a coat of enamel spray paint then cut and glued down exterior grade carpet. I added some tie down brackets to the top of the storage box and spaced them out to be able to secure an ARB refrigerator as well as my dog’s crate.
I secured the storage box to the cargo area of the Land Cruiser by using the existing threaded holes provided by the third row seat brackets.
I extended the surface area of the top of the storage box by building wings that fit over the wheel wells between the interior wall and the cargo box. I left the remaining third row seat brackets (over the wheel wells) in place to provide additional support.
At the time of writing this article, I have been using the storage box in my Land Cruiser for about 3 months. So far, the storage box is holding up just fine. I still need to finish a few items before I call it complete. Still on the list is building the drawers, carpeting the side wings, installing a lockable latch to the flip-up lids and eventually building an add-on set of storage boxes that will sit in front of and attach to the existing storage box in place the 2nd row of seats. More on this in another article.
At a height of 6 foot, 2 inches, I was surprised that the storage box actually made a comfortable sleeping platform in the back of the Land Cruiser. I specifically built the storage box to be even in height to the second row seats with the seat backs folded down. I found a plastic tub that fits perfectly between the first and second row seats that is at the same height. With the front seat pushed forward as far as possible, I can lay down an inflatable camping mattress for a good nights sleep.
The only drawback to the storage box are the occasional times that I need to haul something larger than will fit on top of the box or when I have the need to haul around a few extra people. Oh well. I plan on keeping the storage box as a permanent fixture in the Land Cruiser. Even with the auxiliary battery installed, the storage box could be easily removed for hauling larger cargo (the battery and fuse block only adds a few more steps for removal).
This is not a major undertaking if you have the proper power tools on hand. A table saw would have been nice to use, but I cut everything with a straight edge and an 18 volt rechargeable circular saw. So if you have basic wood working skills (say high school wood shop), this job is well within your ability and very rewarding as well.
See more photos of the storage box build at Toyota FJ80 Land Cruiser Cargo Box Build Photos.