Project FJ Cruiser Gets Suspension

As fun as it has been to beat around in Project FJ Cruiser while covering races, the stock suspension has taken a real beating. Down in the Mexican state of Baja, California, I pretty much pushed it to its limits in terms of how fast I could go through the sand and ruts on the trails that surround the actual race course. Given all this, a suspension upgrade has been high on my priority list for a while.

My plan has been to keep the FJ as streetable as possible, while still improving off-road performance. In other words, I still need to get to the places I am shooting in relative comfort, but when I’m there the FJ needs to perform in order for me to get the best shots I can. Enter King Off-Road Racing Shocks.


King Shocks is local to me in Garden Grove, California, and when the guys said to come down because they had a set of shocks for me, I had no idea what to expect.


Everything is handled in house at King Shocks – from the research and development to the marketing, all the way to the construction, rebuilding and tuning of the shocks it sells worldwide. I pulled into the R&D building, as that’s where the guys would be swapping my shocks.

It was off-road shock heaven! As I’d only seen such a small part of this large operation, while the boys set about installing my brand new shocks I was given the grand tour.

The first thing that caught my eye were these gold-colored shocks. It turns out they’re actually plated in real gold, and were custom made for a wealthy customer in the Middle East. These will soon be gracing a Nissan Patrol of all things.


I think they’d look great on a Black FJ as well!

In one of the assembly areas there was an endless sea of blue aluminum anodized parts.

I found it interesting that this entire operation can still survive even though it’s located in the heart of Southern California. But then, again off-road is a way of life here.


My FJ was already in the air and the stock bits were almost all taken apart, so I headed over to the next building where some of the raw shock bodies were being made.

These series of buildings store all the raw material, including these raw aluminum tubes that get machined into the actual shock bodies.

There are also these raw blank aluminum disks that they used to machine the shock hats.


I was surprised to learn that a lot of King Shocks’ processes are fully automated, but then again, because the company supplies shocks to OEM manufacturers it’s worth it having machines that can pretty much do everything.

A quick check back to the R&D building and my rear shocks were already in and looking amazing.

It was now time to check out the last building, which is actually the most impressive of them all.


This is the main area were most of the assembly takes place. It’s also home to King Shocks’ race operations, and in the offices overlooking the factory floor the marketing and design departments.


These are almost all race shocks ready to be delivered. Amazing!


Bump stops for every type of racing application.


I can safely say that I’d never seen so many shocks in my life. The crazy thing is how much custom work goes into these race shocks.


Double or triple bypass – anything goes. Shock rebuilding after race duty also happens in house.


This is pretty much the biggest of them all, the crème de la crème of King’s off-road shocks – the 4.5-inch, 7-tube bypass with piggyback finned reservoir. It’s what the top dogs in trophy trucks and Class 1 cars use.


Here we shocks waiting to be rebuilt after hundreds if not thousands of race and test miles.


And brand new shocks ready to go in all the off-road applications you can imagine.


Even the perches are made and welded in house.


While many components are made by machines, there are still a few things that need the human hand touch, especially if the shocks are for a custom application.


Here’s a shelf full of OEM shocks for Robby Gordon Edition Arctic Cat Wildcat X UTVs. How cool is that?


It was about this time that the guys told me my truck was almost ready, so I headed back over to the R&D department.


The stock suspension did its job, but I am sure it would not have lasted much longer with how hard I push my FJ.


The new King Shocks setup looks absolutely amazing though. The fronts have adjustable ride height as well as a remote reservoir, big 2.5-inch shock bodies and 3-inch coil springs with compression adjusters. Check out how easy it is to adjust the dampening – just a few clicks on that red knob to change the way the truck handles.


I couldn’t wait to take the FJ out into the desert, but before that I’d need to source new upper control arms to take advantage of the full travel that the shocks have to offer.


The rears are a bit more subtle, but they’re just as easy to adjust. You just reach in and turn the red knob – no tools are required. These also have a 2.5-inch smooth shock body and remote reservoirs with compression adjusters. With this rear setup, articulation is increased and it adds 15 per cent of wheel travel. The best part of all is that it’s a completely bolt-in kit.


Next up for Project FJ Cruiser is a number of smaller upgrades that will improve the truck overall. As always, drivability and reliability is key to me. Because as much as I love Mexico, I just don’t want to be stuck out in the middle of the desert in Baja while chasing a race. I will also touch on my driving impressions with the new suspension versus stock in my next post.

In the meantime, I am open to suggestions on what to do next. Just remember, this truck is pretty much the ultimate tool for me in regards to my off-road photography, so anything for aesthetics is out the question.

Larry Chen
Instagram: larry_chen_foto



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looks great! I think you need some monster colors though! Neon green roof, splash tray/rock guard, maybe some merica flags!!! Keep up the good work larry.


Maybe some overlanding stuff? An inverter, air compressor, tent or some recovery gear?


I feel like lighting is next, in fact I'd be shocked if it wasnt.


I quote "anything for aesthetics is out the question" ...
Looks like a great company out there!
As for further modifications, I feel the lighting definitely has to be addressed, a light bar, or some cool old spot lights. I wouldn't personally know but surely there is nothing worse than being caught in the desert and not being able to see 6 feet in front of you?


I saw your FJ in action on the Baja Kits IG, looks sweet! Did you ever consider doing a long travel kit from them on your FJ (Im pretty  sure it's offered, right?) What are your thoughts on the Baja Kits products? I would love to know what its like with the long travel kit on the road.


I would suggest removing the factory side steps, and replacing with rock sliders. Maybe a different roof rack with a flat shelf so you could get on top of the truck to take photos, and the additional utility. Lights to help you get to the trail in the dark.


Just remember to keep an eye on your front drive shaft angle once you start pushing the front travel or you'll start busting CV's.


Nice update :)

Lights, winch, and a JDM bubble shifter next!!


After the control arms you definitely need a winch mount off-road bumper: It's important to be able to get yourself out of a trouble especially when nobody is around. My favorite for fj is a Smittybilt M1 winch bumper.


I  cant believe that some one able to earn $8736 

in 2 weeks on the computer ............. 


Lights, winch, and Maxtrax. You're pretty much set after that. Maybe skid plates, but that's about it.


D1RGE EXE lol sex toy shifter??gotta love em


Did you chop the body mounts or was there enough room?

Folks have already mentioned the UCAs but I'd replace the lower trailing arms as well. The stock ones are pretty weak and I've seen plenty of bent ones out on the trail.

Definitely watch the CV boots. You'll be replacing them pretty regularly.

For bumpers and sliders, got talk to Demello. Local to you and solid work.

For roof rack, buzz down to San Marcos and chat with the guys at BajaRack.

Skid plates are totally up to you. Most of my time had been spent exploring Borrego, Baja and up around Idyllwild. Never felt a need for them. If you're going to go rock crawl around the KOH route, then yes.

Such a capable truck. You're really going to enjoy it. Makes me wish I never had to sell mine.


In my opinion, the best option for you on UCA (upper control arms) would be Camburg Racing in Huntington Beach. Then contact Method Race Wheels (NV105 Beadlock) for when you go to Baja.


My Uncle Cooper got a stunning red Cadillac ATS Coupe from only working

part time on a pc at home...


how much for these set larry?


my parents  recently purchased a superb Chevrolet Equinox SUV by ........................

see more details 


Didn't have this kinda money to throw at my 4Runner Trail Edition, but a 3" lift w/ Bilstein 5100's and 33" Wrangler Duratracs turned the thing into an absolute monster off road. Nothing like being able to drive through closed-off flooded roads, over curbs, shrug off even the biggest potholes and road imperfections. Kinda makes you feel invicnible, haha.


UCA's, LED lights, winch/winch-mount bumper, rear tire/jerry can/hy-lift jack carrier, air compressor, rooftop tent, ARB fridge on a slide-out rack, electric inverter and maybe a solar panel.... probably in that order as can be afforded or sponsored.