Road Scholar // Trollhole owner Marshall Shepherd sits on the wheel of a ’77 FJ40 that’s getting a brand-new Chevrolet E-Rod LS3, 430-horsepower, V-8 engine (above). While that’s not at all a factory-original Cruiser motor, it’s what the customer wants, Shepherd says.“It’s really cool, it really is. It’ll be a rocket ship”; (below) the reworked interior of the FJ40.
Some craftsmen restore historic homes, painstakingly returning them to their original glory. Marshall Shepherd works similar magic, too, only his driving passion happens to be Land Cruisers, the Jeep-esque line Toyota launched in 1951. “They’re hot right now,” says the 45-year-old self-taught car-whiz who opened Trollhole Cruisers in 2012.
Hot investments, too. The New York Times calls these new-iconic autos a “trusted vehicle favored by safari guides, United Nations relief workers, and oil prospectors … the world’s most admired off-roader.”
Blue Monster // The shop is refurbishing this 1979 FJ40’s factory-stock, 4.2 liter, inline 6-cyclinder engine, with an odometer that reads 136,000 miles. Shepherd and his three employees are also adding a 5-speed transmission and fuel injection.
Shepherd mentions a job completed last October. The customer had bought the FJ40 for $20,000 and paid Trollhole $55,000 to drive it back to 1981. “It appraised for $90,000,” Shepherd says.
Makeovers can take up to a year, he says. “When we restore a vehicle, it’s period-correct. It has the exact same hardware, the same bolts, the same markings, everything as what Toyota would do from the factory.”
Chip Batson, 50, owner of Batson Electrical Contractors and the just-opened Piney Mountain Bike Lounge, says he found Shepherd last year for his ’86 FJ60. “I didn’t think there was anybody like him in Greenville,” Batson says. “He’s a great personality to work with. He loves—and he’s enthusiastic about—what he’s doing.”
Trollhole’s Cruisers, 511 Palmetto Dr, Simpsonville. (864) 414-0563