The Capital Land Cruiser Club was formed with the purpose to enhance Land Cruiser owners enjoyment of their vehicles. Each individual member is responsible for making the most of their membership in the club. Some members utilized the knowledge of more experienced members to learn skills in maintenance, repair and customization of the Toyota Land Cruiser. Other more experienced members enjoy teaching their skills, selling hard to find used parts or the network of special tools members allow others to borrow. Still other members enjoy the opportunity to challenge the Land Cruisers superior off highway capabilities, through special events. All members seem to enjoy making new friends, monthly meetings and occasional camping trips.
James Asti started the club in the winter of 1992. After moving to the Washington DC area from New Jersey, James missed the camaraderie of Totally Land Cruisers of New Jersey, a club he had been an active member in. After seeing the numerous early styles of the Land Cruiser in the DC metro area, he decided our nations capital needed a club to represent the growing interest in older styles of Toyotas classic 4x4 vehicle. Many other clubs were forming all over the nation, as chapters of a national organization know as the Toyota Land Cruiser Association (TLCA). The TLCA was formed in 1976 and at this time was about 15 years old, with about 500 members in about 14 chapters.
James started to place notes, made of scraps of paper or whatever was handy, on the windshield of every FJ40 and FJ55 model Land Cruiser he saw. The notes had a message that read "are you interested in joining a Land Cruiser Club and his phone number. James also asked every owner he ran into if they were interested. The first meeting was at his Townhouse in Reston, Va. February 2nd 1992 as Totally Land Cruiser, Virginia Chapter. In March of 1992, I climbed into my FJ40 and noticed a note on my windshield. It was placed there by another member Mark Harris, and had his phone number. I wasted no time in calling him, I was very interested in joining the club. Two weeks later, March 25th, I followed Mark to Jamess house for the second meeting. Soon after we arrived, the other members: Guillermo Lozada, John Page, Robert Startup, and Andy Thomas. Our meeting was held following Roberts Rules of Order, and James passed out the newsletter called Cruiser Connection, and a membership roster. Officers were elected and James was to be the first president, along with Mark the VP, Guillermo the treasurer, and Andy the secretary.
The club struggled the first couple of years, meetings not on a monthly basis, and sporadic. I assumed the responsibility of calling every member and informing them when ever a meeting was to be held. One of the members I had never meet and was on the roster, his name was Eugene Cole. Eugene was surprised to hear that a club was established. James had mentioned it to him a year or before, but no one called him after that. The next few meetings were held at Shakies restaurant in Annandale, VA. And by 1993 we had changed the name or the club to the "Capital Land Cruiser Club During the summer of 1993 the club held its first trail ride to Taskers Gap Trail just east of Edinburg, VA. That fall James and Mark participated in the first year of the event that would become the Catamount Cruiser Challenge. By the end of the year the meetings had moved to Jamess new house in Sterling, VA. James had a garage at his new house, so tech demonstrations became part of the meeting. At least one new member came to each meeting, usually replacing members that dropped out. Fred Welland was one of the first members with a V8 FJ40 and joined at this time. James was helping everyone in the club fix and modify their Cruisers and in the fall of 1994, started his own business repairing Land Cruisers, called the Land Cruiser Connection. Needless to say, the club changed the name of the newsletter to "Cruiser Dirt". That fall James, John and I participated in the first annual Catamount Cruiser Challenge.
Once James found a shop for his business, in 1995, the club meetings moved to his new location. This is about the time the club finally began run smoothly. At the first meeting at the Land Cruiser Connection, we decided the interest was there to meet monthly. Members would reserve the first Wednesday of every month for meetings. The clubs reputation spread and many members joined during that summer. During those meetings we would fire up an old grill at the shop and grill up burgers and dogs. Often the club would buy the food with the money in the treasury from the dues. April 1st, we held our second swap meet called the First Annual Swap Meet and Open House, in conjunction with the Land Cruiser Connection. James became too busy with his new shop to run the club and Fred Welland and I became co president. Monthly camping trips to the GWNF happened all summer long. By December of 1995 meeting moved to Hard Times restaurant in Herndon, VA. It was not unusual to see 20 members at a meeting by then. Many new members joined that summer, including Lance Williams, Rob Blumel, Brad Devries, John Stumbaugh and Jim Eginrieder. The November membership roster had 36 members with paid memberships.
Our club was in full swing, with members receiving discounts on parts at 2 Toyota dealers, and numerous other businesses. Brad had organized Winter Wheels to help nurses and doctors in the DC metro area get to work in inclement winter weather. I organized a library owned by the club of Land Cruiser books and repair manuals. T-shirts, and stickers had been made. We were putting out a newsletter 6 or so times a year. Numerous wheeling trips were taking place. March 6th we had 25 members at the meeting and it was the 13th consecutive monthly meeting. Meetings have taken place every month since then.
The club wanted to put on a national event, but with no good trails in the area, we had trouble deciding on what to do. James wanted to have an open house for his business, and the club had a swap meet before. So the idea came together for a combined open house/ swap meet for the Land Cruiser Connection and the Capital Land Cruiser Club. A date was set for April 13th 1996 and a committee was formed for the clubs involvement. We were expecting over 300 people and had planned lots of entertainment.
Although less Land Cruisers turned out for the 1996 Open House and Swap Meet than we expected. More people showed up than we were prepared for. We about 500 entrance tickets and had about 100 Land Cruisers lining Woodland Road, the street in front of the Land Cruiser Connection. The truck show, raffle (which included a ARB Bull Bar) and RTI ramp were all big hits. The club made a lot of money selling t-shirts, stickers, and memberships.
In 1997 Fred remain a member of the club, but relinquished his president title, leaving me to run the club. The club continued to be a success, and about this time the club posted the first CLCC web site and started their own list server. The most notable thing from that year was the larger third Capital Land Cruiser Club Annual Swap Meet. Though the RTI ramp was no longer around, we had an even better truck show and raffle. This year we raffled off a Webber carb, and a winch. Product reps were there from many manufactures, and we had a band and BBG catering. James Asti like every year was mostly responsible for the arrangements, with the club doing what they could and providing manpower to run the event. Turnout was slightly larger, many more people and some more trucks. We had people coming from as far away as Massachusetts, Ohio, and Tennessee.
Swap meets continued for the next two years, although turnout may not have been impressive. Meetings moved around from different parks, restaurants and sometimes at the Land Cruiser Connection over the next few years, but always remained on the first Wednesday of every month. In 1999 after over 4 years, I stepped down as president of the CLCC and Lance Williams took over. In 2003 Cami Curtis became president and in 2005 Rob Blumel accepted the challenge.
Over the years our club has struggled at times and prospered at times, but the fact that the club is still around comprised of yet another generation members, makes me the most proud. I never was a great leader, but I like to think of myself as the glue that held the club together. A lot of other members were responsible for the accomplishments that we made. I received a lot of good help with the club and that is representative of the good will and determination typical of Land Cruiser enthusiasts. Another huge achievement in my opinion is the Clubs web activity. The CLCC List Server has done more for the members ability to stay in touch and help each other out than anything James or I ever were able to do. Over the 14 years that the Capital Land Cruiser Club has been around, many new friendships have been formed, lots of laughs have been had and many members have stepped up to help out another member in a bind. I like to think thats what a club is about. We now have many former members who have moved away and continued their involvements in other clubs, while some of our own members have come form other clubs. Many old members stay in touch to this day that no longer have Land Cruisers, but help each other out with projects around the house, and sometimes just get together for a beer now and then. Those friendships are most dear to me and I think of them as the clubs highest achievement.
Former CLCC President