For many the Toyota Land Cruiser is as iconic as the Land Rover Defender, especially in the Pacific and Australasian regions.
The history of Land Rover is well known and been told many times, but not so for the intrepid Land Cruiser, and yet it’s birth was only a few years after the Land Rover.
Was a grim time in Japan, after the war, economy in tatters and no real direction for improvement. America rallied the automotive industry by promising to place orders for jeep type vehicles thus helping the production industry and economy of the country to grow.
Enter the first conceived Toyota BJ model, with one wheel base, although in many guises, and aimed at the military and utility market. This proved successful in kick starting the economy, … and so the story begins.
Saw the first name of the Land Cruiser, applied to the BJ25 which was made more appealing to the general civilian market, again this proved to be very successful.
Around this time the F type engine was introduced to the vehicle, so denoting the model name change to the FJ. Also the
choice was made to design several wheel base options and a passenger vehicle badged the Land Cruiser FJ28 V.
The other variants were;
FJ 40 short wheelbase
FJ 43 medium wheelbase
FJ45 long wheelbase
By this year Toyota were selling the Land Cruiser in over 80 countries world wide, and still demand was growing for the ever popular vehicle
At this point in time Toyota had sold over 100,000 units internationally.
This year Toyota reintroduced the BJ40, looking very similar outside but mechanically very different inside with many improvements. The FJ was still to be sold alongside the more utilitarian BJ. This was their first classic still loved today by many.
Was the coming of the 60 series station wagon and the chunky look of the Land Cruiser many of us know today.
Toyota saw the 1000,000 Land Cruiser delivered and produced a limited edition 60 series to celebrate.
The 70 series was produced to the market, again proving popular.
Many say Toyota’s finest hour, with the unveiling of the 80 series station wagon. All round coil springs and many other improvements. Toyota fans still vote this the best all rounder and expedition model.
The 90 series was introduced, known as the Prado to many. Smaller and softer than it’s big brother the 80 series, it was never meant to replace it but to give more of an option to customer’s requirements.
It was at this point in time that the Land Cruisers were having great success at international 4×4 rally events, such as the Paris Dakar race where they won the category for none modified diesel engines in 96, 98, 99, and 2000.
Toyota released the 100 series with a GX version, having solid beam axles front and rear, or a VX version with independent front suspension and beam to the rear, the latter like the Prado.
Saw a face lift to the 100 series, which did not meet with approval to many Toyota fans, saying it looked girly like.
The 200 series replaced the 100 series and is to run in production alongside the Prado, FJ
station wagon and FJ pickup
Todate, the FJ’s still have a huge following but have long gone from the European shores and this year Toyota have announced that 2015 will be the last year for the model in the US.
Images; Toyota, Google