April 18, 2022
Cruiserhead Spotlight 1
Cruiserhead Spotlight series
Nate aka "Mattress King"
Hello everyone. I am starting a new blog based interview series in conjunction with our live video interviews on instagram. This series is similar in that we will have interviews with interesting cruiserheads from around the world and share their stories. A blog format affords us things we don't get with a live Instagram interview, like the ability to share pictures and video that relate to the interview. This makes blog based interviews rich with content in a new way. Also, not everyone wants to be on live video. hahaha . In the end, it's just another pathway to share interesting stories with you all.
For our first cruiserhead interview we are talking to the well known cruiser owner/lover "Mattress King". If you have been in the 40 or 60 section on Ih8mud in the last several years, you have surely come across his build threads. If you haven't, check them out here:
They are both informative and rich in great pictures. Always a great read.
So we all start on the same page and address the most burning question. Mattress King, How did that name come about? I am guessing you were not a top salesman of mattresses.
Ha! Totally right, my first job was not selling deeply discounted mattresses. Before Land Cruisers I was heavily enveloped in the tuner/VAG scene...Volkswagens/Audis if you are not familiar. So one year in Helen, GA, I had the bright idea of floating down the Chattahoochee River, but I didn't care to rent an inner tube, so I used my queen sized mattress to raft. Amidst all this, the local Burger King donated a very necessary crown for me to wear. Downside is that the mattress met its demise on a rock so every morning I woke up like a taco after the air leaked out.
You clearly have a passion for cars/trucks and bikes. When did that passion first start?
Oh man-probably in elementary school? I remember thinking the 2000 Civic Si with intake, exhaust, headers, lowered with what I learned were Spoon wheels... was the coolest think on the road, then my tastes evolved. It took a big turn when my dream car, at the time, slipped through my fingers all because I decided to take my sister's car out without a license... that was a big regret. Kids-if you are going to take a car out without a license- make sure your mother isn't coming home early from work. ;)
Any cool builds (pre-cruisers) you want to share?
Well, I had a lot of different cars that many may or may not understand, but my first true project was Junior year in high school. My parents were mad after it started but I transplanted a 12V VR6 into my 87 GTI. After that it was a slew of Volkswagens, a stupidly low LS430, '72 911T and a SR swapped S14... with a spattering of motorcycles and other cars in between. Oh! like the R32 GTR! I swear I avoided the HOV violation for over a year because I was daily driving the Skyline and cops assumed the person in the "passenger" seat was the second occupant... not the driver. I suppose the R32 or the S14 is when my nerdiness started to shine. I loved merging parts from various 240SX's and keeping it super tidy and somewhat genuine to the manufacturer, however, it was still stupid low, and loud with lots of camber. I loved it as much as the cops in my town hated it. Probably the most enjoyable project outside of cruisers was my shovel. Bought it in backwoods Maryland from a very motivated seller who chained it up to a tree to avoid theft, we even shotgunned a few beers- one of my more memorable purchases. That think was always running and after moving to California, I tore it down and turned it into a real fun chopper. Hand shift, no front brake, yadda yadda. Took it all around California and down to Mexico where it came to by my last trip with it. Motor let go after I got home. Years later- my good buddy got it all together and better than before!
How did you get into cruisers? Was the FJ60 your first cruiser?
The 60 was my first cruiser! I moved from Virginia to California and had planned to buy a '09 C2 911s. I still want that car but it's dumb as an only car. I wanted something manual, 4WD and needed room to put my belongings when I moved. I knew no one in California so I had to be completely self-sufficient. I had already really like 60s and 1st gen Broncos prior, but I couldn't muster a purchase of a domestic car. The '99 LS400 and the '03 LS430 really began my love of Toyota without truly realizing it. I had planned to buy a tan 60 but the jerkoff sold it while I was en route on the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway), so I landed on the white one I found in Venice. Bought it from a very Dutch fella who had no clue what he had gotten himself into... thankfully he didn't screw it up.
What made you buy a FJ60 vs another model?
Manual was the #1 priority, Toyota/Japanese the 2nd and 3rd needing/loving a 4dr station wagon. Very few options landed in the United States so it came to be. I have no clue how I really landed on it, no cute story of being brought home in a 60 or any emotional attachment beforehand, hell I didn't know they existed in college. My dad had Land Rovers growing up and I loathed working to keep them going after 100k miles and the lack of manual options, however series I, II, and III are just gorgeous trucks. I had serious eyes for a 110country or Range Rover County... still love those trucks, just not enough to purchase.. it would need a 4/5spd and a diesel motor.
What did you love most and hate most about the FJ60? Ok, maybe hate is too strong a word. I guess "like the least" would be a better term.
Strong dislike is all the plastic from that era and stock seats. So much plastic and no real options for replacements as it cracks and falls apart. I love the overseas trucks where the panels have the "half-trim" door panels and vinyl floors. My dream 60 would be very minimal. The seating position... is great until about hour 8. I like to drive my trucks heavily and the seats/seating position became very uncomfortable. I might be crazy but after driving 3x as much in less time in my 40... I find the 40 seating postions is superior for me. The 60 feels too...sedan-like. My Ram truck reminds me of my 40 and those two trucks I can go 10-12 hours without body fatigue.
You clearly have skill when it comes to sourcing parts and building out a nice Land Cruiser. Can you tell people how you approached the build?
I'm a nut, much like Onur, but I never worked at Toyota. Toyota makes repairing and sourcing parts so outrageously easy I can't fathom why anyone would want to divert from factory parts... they are truly superior. The way I look at cars/trucks is truly....odd. They are original once and I believe the reason they are still on the road is because they were kept original. The more original, the more likely they stayed...alive. Engines swaps, crazy lifts, yadda yadda usually leads to unfinished or poorly modified trucks that meet their demise sooner than they should have. But who knew gas-guzzling 4x4s from the 80s would become hip? Not me... now ask me about selling my 911 8 years ago. ;) . So to keep my trucks going, if I modify them, it's either reversible without any effort to repaint or rewire. If someone wanted the truck to go back to the way it was, no problem. Even the FJ62 dash swap and CarPlay could easily be swapped back to stock, but I loved that about it.
Do you have any tips on someone new to cruisers and looking to do a refurbishment?
Get it running and use OEM parts. Don't throw all that junk on the truck because Instagram makes you feel like you need to. Go take the truck out, make a few mistakes, get stranded and learn how the truck works. Preventative maintenance is everything and if you learn how the truck works, do your maintenance and prepare, you won't have issues. In the 5 years of owning my 60, 75k miles as my only car... it never once broke down, left me stranded or even ran out of gas. It was truly perfect (granted I spent more time making sure of it than I care to admit). Same goes for the 40.
You ended up selling the 60... but you were not out of the game long. You then turned around and purchased a great 40! Can you tell us how you found it?
I had been looking for a mustard '75 for about two years... then found one on KSL. I called the fella, took a bag of tools (that TSA confiscated half of) and headed to Wyoming. I fell in love with the truck immediately and turned over the cash without batting an eye. The truck took me up to Jackson Hole to visit...a girl... then took the journey back to Ventura, no issues ensued. Truly remarkable I didn't have to spin any wrenches, just replace some dash light bulbs to ditch the flashlight the PO used. hahahaha
You ended up taking a long tour of the US shortly after purchasing it! What was the prep for that trip in a 40 you hardly knew?
Having done about 3,000 miles between purchase and departure, I did a quick health check on the truck, compression and all fluids. Once I knew those bits were healthy, I replaced a handful of gaskets, ditched the Holley Carb and MSD ignition for an OEM carb, dizzy and coil/igniter and did an overhaul on the cooling system to make sure no cooling issues occurred. Sure enough, 9k miles later, 3 months and guess what... no issues. That truck was a blast. I lived out of it and saw the West and bounced off rocks at Poughkeepsie, couldn't have loved the truck more.
->To following along the mustard 40s build with its new owner, check out its new mud thread! HERE
What do you think your next cruiser build will be? Do you have a particularly favorite series?
I just picked up an April 1978 FJ40. No motor and drum axles so I have already picked up a 2F and disc axle (Thanks Steve!) to get the truck running and driving again. I think I will likely do the same treatment as the last one: 4" lift, OEM steelies and 33s. It works so well on/off-road that I couldn't imagine owning a 40 without that combo. I don't care to rock hop on Dusy Ershim with a pretty-ish truck, but I want to commute and also have the ability to "live" out of the truck and at the same time pick up a girl for a date. There is a fine like of performing all of those tasks and doing it with some class- otherwise it becomes more of a one-trick pony.
Cruisers seem to be in your blood now as you have started a cool and very much in demand business, Canyon Carrying, and have been moving a lot of cruiser around the country! Can you tell us how that came about?
Transporting came about completely unexpectedly. There's a few things I realized I'm good at-being alone (haha) and driving. Never realized it could be a profession considering how I was raised... that I need to be a business professional and that's the only way to live... well I decided it wasn't for me and I hated the way my life was progressing. Plus I can't do the Panamerican with a 9-5 ;). I received my degree, spent 9 years in Program Management/Defense Contracting and all I had to show was debt and boredom, so I found the courage to leave it and travel for the summer (thanks Covid! :) ). A few conversations with fellow cruiserheads and I found myself buying a brand new Ram to try my hand at hot shot trucking.
How has that been going? Any interesting rigs/stories from the road?
"Strikes and gutters, ups and downs..." Seriously, it has been a lot of fun. There's the case of fixing flat tires when its 0 degrees at 1am in Iowa.. with no available air because the lines are shut off, then there's the unexpected and fun encounter I had in Palm Springs ;) , so I suppose you could say it balances itself out quite well. Plus I've met some of the best people and solidified some already existing friendships along the way. This venture has truly been life-altering for me.
If someone needs a vehicle transported, what is the best way to get a hold of you?
Right now it is all by referral, so email is best: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also follow along to the IG account @canyoncarrying
I would like to close out by asking if you had a friend/mentor in cruisers that made an impact on your builds, or another connection you would like to highlight that came about through the cruiser community? Who do you think we should do a spotlight on next?
There are quite a few but it has to be Jimmy, easy. I met him very early on and he's become a close friend. Always enjoy watching his projects and he's the most down to earth and hospitable person I've met. If you ever go to his place, make sure to bring a rack of Modelo or Dewars White Label. ;)