Project FJ40 Cruiser: Off-Road Race Mirrors Installed

Watching Your Back on The Trail and Beyond

Sep. 24, 2009 By Jaime Hernandez

Mirrors are not just some fancy ornamental piece hanging on the side of your vehicle; they can be a real lifesaver on or off-road. Since off-roading involves going through tight trails, rocks and even keeping an eye on the rig behind you, it’s good to have an extra set of eyes that can help you judge if it’s a safe pass. By eyes, we mean off-road mirrors.

Since we took the doors and top off our FJ40 Toyota Land Cruiser, we were left with no side mirrors. We needed at least one mirror to drive it legally on the street. We also wanted to make sure we had some way of devising if anybody was coming up behind us on the trail. 

off-road race mirrors
This style of mirror setup can be found on off-road racers from Trophy Trucks to rock racers. What’s nice is that they are an easy bolt-on that can work on any roll cage using 1- to 2-inch DOM tubing.

We had seen some trick mirror setups with protective cages on off-road race cars and trucks. After talking to some racers about them, we were sold on adding an off-road race-style mirror to our trail rig.

The off-road race mirrors we are talking about are basically semi-truck mirrors that have been proven worthy for off-road use. Over the years, off-road racers have found creative ways to take existing parts and toughen them up for the rough terrain of Baja.

The 5-inch trucker mirror is matted to a custom mirror cage that protects and provides a way to mount it to your cage.  The bracket can easily be mounted to any roll cage or pillar with 1- to 1 3/4-inch tubing (2-inch is also possible with some slight modification). They will work on your Rhino, RZR, Jeep, Rock Crawler, etc.—as long as you have a curved mounting surface.

off-road race mirror

Sourcing the off-road mirror bracket may be hard since it’s a specialized item. Any good off-road race shop should carry them or at least be able to fabricate them. We got ours at Off Road Warehouse (ORW) in El Cajon, CA.

The race mirror brackets we got at ORW are made of .5-inch steel tubing with a zinc finish. They are designed to work with a 5-inch center-mounted mirror and can be used on either left- or right-side applications. 

Kraig Scott from ORW helped us narrow down our mirror search by explaining the difference between the two mirrors available. The convexed mirror is great for up close and blind spots, but it will not work for seeing behind your rig. If you want to see who’s behind you, a flat mirror is a better bet.

We opted for the flat 5-inch Open Road Truck Mirror since we aren’t too concerned about blind spots and would rather have the ability to see if our friends are keeping up or how close our backend is to hitting a rock coming around a tight trail.


off-road race mirrors

The installation was straightforward. Start by finding a location where you think the mirror will work best for you. To hold the race mirror bracket in place use stainless steel hose clamps. Many racers use them and they have proven strong enough for the SCORE Baja 1000—so why not your trail rig.

The beauty of using stainless-steel hose clamps is that you can easily move the mirror bracket up or down for final height adjustment. They also allow for removal of mirrors if you decide to put your top back on. 

After you have found your sweet spot, place the hose clamps on the under side of the two bracket mounting points to make sure the bracket stays on.

off-road race mirrors
The hose clamps will act as a swivel if you ever need to pull them in or if you happen to hit a rock or wall. Just push them back out.

Next came adding the mirror to the bracket.  The 5-inch Open Road Truck Mirror is center mounted, so you just need to loosen a ½-inch bolt and slide it into the mounting hole on the off-road mirror bracket.

Since these are semi-truck mirrors, they come with special screws that can be tightened to keep the mirror from moving once you have adjusted it. If you try adjusting the mirror without loosening the three Phillips screws on the back, you will bend the housing or even break the mirror (read the WARNING on the box). 

off-road race mirror

Loosen the three screws, then jump in the driver seat and make adjustments. Tighten the three Phillips screws on the back to make sure your mirror stays in place—and they will. These mirrors are designed for high vibration and hard jolts. If you have ever been in a semi-truck you know that they don’t have the smoothest ride.

You’re done!


project FJ40 Land Cruiser

All in all, we were very pleased with the final results.  It was a very simple bolt-on application and makes all the difference on the trail and on the way there. It also gives a simple solution for mounting mirrors to a roll cage without permanently welding them on. It works for any roll cage—Jeep, side-by-side, buggy, rock crawler, etc.

off-road race mirrorNo more looking sheepish when a Police officer pulls up next to you and your rig is borderline street legal. You now have cool off-road mirrors that are race ready and highway safe.

Cost: $60 per side


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