Growing up in Yemen and spending most of his childhood seeing the 1979 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40, Max Stanton admits he always wanted one.
"The first time I ever went into one of these cars, I went to an island called Socotra, in Yemen. I must have been about 10 at the time. We flew there and there was no proper airplane. We were there for the first time ever and we needed a car to drive us around. We found a driver who drove my family around in this car throughout the mountains and island," the 25-year-old says.
"He carried five people, including himself and our camping stuff, all our food and water and the car didn't stop," the half-British, half-American continues. "There were no asphalt roads and the car was overloaded. It didn't get stuck in the sand, and nothing happened to it."
After moving to the UAE and living in Dubai for some time, he and his friends began the search for his long-wanted car. His friends knew someone who imported the cars, and they introduced them to each other.
"A guy from Al Ain usually gets these cars, and I met him through my friends. He had two of them, so I went to Al Ain to see them and meet him. I chose one and I agreed on a price," he says.
About two weeks later, Stanton went back to the man with the money in a pickup truck to haul the car, and drove back to Dubai with it.
"It has classic looks and it's a very basic car," he says. "It's meant to take you everywhere; it's not fast or comfortable but it will go anywhere."
Stanton's plan was to get the car in its original body, and not one with many modifications, which are easily found. After fixing it, he planned on re-selling it to start on a new project. "I wanted mine to look like it did the day it rolled of the assembly line," he says.
"I changed it from a three-speed to a five-speed to drive on the highway. The interior was fully done with new seats, the body was re-sprayed to its original colour and I got a custom exhaust system fitted because the old one was damaged. I also installed a horn and seat belts because it didn't have any."
His everyday car is a 2011 GMC Sierra, but the FJ40 is usually driven on weekends, when Stanton decides to cruise around or get breakfast. "I don't go on long road trips; it's like driving a lunchbox," he says. "It's a metal cube, bare metal."
He also drives it to work when he is bored, or if someone from work wants a lift. While driving it around, Max is always attracting people's attention.
"I was coming home from work one day, when it was still new. It still had the export number plate on it, and a guy honked at me and told me to sell it to him. I kept telling him that it was not for sale but he said he 'needed' this car," he laughs. "After I refused, he said 'OK, nice car', and drove off.
"Another guy asked me why I had bought his car, and I could see he was very excited because he said it reminded him of his childhood and his father's car."
Stanton is planning on selling the FJ40 and wants to get the new 2013 Toyota LC70 SWB. "I want a new Kabsoola [as it is called in the local dialect] because I love going to the desert. I love this car and I want to keep it but I don't want to ruin it in the desert. And it's not sensible for one guy to have three cars."
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