Welcome to the first in a series of Vendor Profiles. The vintage Land Cruiser market has many passionate and dedicated small business owners that help us keep our old trucks on the road to enjoy. One of these individuals is Roger Peng, the founder of City Racer LLC.
Roger is consistently striving to bring "hard to find" parts and great modifications to market for your Land Cruiser. I asked Roger to give us a little insight into the story behind City Racer. Enjoy!
The story of City Racer began in 2014. I needed an air intake hose for my Land Cruiser FJ40. Thought I’d just pick one up from the local dealership after grocery shopping. “Sorry sir, it’s been discontinued.” was the response at the counter. My next stop was Google. After searching all over the internet, a couple of worn out hoses turned up at premium prices. “There’s got to be a better way!” That frustrating thought led to the creation of the first product, a reproduction hose.
Interest in vintage Toyota Land Cruisers is enduring. The phenomenon is all too familiar to owners who have been given the thumbs up at traffic lights or approached with questions at all kinds of places by all kinds of people. While the hobby is growing, the vehicles are getting older and more perishable parts are becoming “NLA” (No Longer Available) from Toyota. This topic led to many memorable discussions in a long running thread I started on IH8MUD, titled "Unobtainium". While many individuals have come up with creative workarounds, what people really want are plug-and-play parts like the originals. On this premise, I started City Racer LLC to pick up on key areas where Toyota has departed and the aftermarket has neglected. The catalog of 1 grew steadily the old fashion way – 1 part at a time.
There are a few things that make City Racer a little different from the typical auto parts vendor. First, we’re a niche business within a niche. We supply many parts that are either discontinued or not easily obtainable. Chances are you’ll find that one missing piece that’s been bugging you for some time, but we don’t try to carry everything. By staying focused, we aren’t burdened by keeping big warehouses. We know customers want to pay for the part, not for overhead.
We are willing to invest in product development, tooling, and build partnerships with manufacturers to bring back the parts of yesteryear. We don’t just want to sell things that are already on the market; we like to do things that are hard. The biggest projects we’ve undertaken to date are the molded FJ40 floor mats. Each mat took nearly 2 years with several reassessments and restarts. It was a tremendous learning process that took our capabilities to the limit. The legend of the Land Cruiser is made up of many hallmark parts. This is one piece you will enjoy every time you step into the car.
We are generally fans of stock, as we appreciate period charms and the old school driving experience. However, what if you’re using your rig as a daily driver, and must deal with the realities of life after Sunday? Targeting these needs, we offer ways to modernize and upgrade your Cruiser through products like electric power steering, LED headlights, retrofit tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS), silicone drain and vacuum hoses built to OEM dimensions. These “mods” (as in modernization, not modification) are all reversible, but we doubt you’ll ever go back.
A few highlights of our business philosophies:
We believe in empowering the customer. Throughout our website, you’ll come across product selection guides, technical information, installation manuals, FAQs, tips, call-outs and abundance of photos associated with our offerings. Some of the knowledge has been collected from the Land Cruiser community and may not be available through factory parts catalogs or service manuals. We invite you to take advantage of these resources.
We see product evaluation as a top priority. In these budget conscious times people tend to go for the lowest price. Years ago, I’ve been there, done that. It taught me some valuable lessons:
I would end up having to replace the subpar parts all over again. Parts were cheap but labor was expensive.
Nothing is worth compromising safety.
I didn’t realize my brakes could be this good after putting on original equipment!
In some cases, cheap makes sense. For example, why spend twice the money on OEM hood cushion when when it’s just a simple piece of rubber? One of our key value propositions is to have carefully evaluated each part by weighing both quality AND price. You can be assured we only carry quality items, and we’ve already comparison shopped.
We derive our pricing advantage by leveraging technology and reducing overhead, not by compromising quality. As a former business IT consultant, these practices came in handy as I’ve helped many clients implement such models.
We love connecting with the international Land Cruiser community, and our fulfillment system ably handles international shipping at the best rates.
City Racer LLC wouldn’t be possible without the support from the incredible Land Cruiser community, spanning enthusiasts, DIYers, shops, transcending cultural and geographical boundaries. The dedication, knowledge and enthusiasm of this group are the motivating forces behind us, and what will keep these special vehicles on the road for a long time to come.
If you have a business or a favorite vendor you would like to see highlighted here, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your suggestions. Thanks for tuning in!