A brief history of the Toyota Land Cruiser. How to live 70 years without roads
A brief history of the Toyota Land Cruiser. How to live 70 years without roads

A brief history of the Toyota Land Cruiser. How to live 70 years without roads

Because of the political circumstances, we don’t know much about the Korean War campaign in the 1950s. We know that the bad Americans attacked the good North Koreans, who in turn started shooting at the bad South Koreans. The good, kind, honest and just soviet union could not help reacting to such an outrage and, of course, quietly took an active part in the confrontation in Korea. But there is one thing we do not know. If it were not for that mess, we would not have seen the wonderful Toyota Land Cruiser SUV, whose history begins with that very unpleasant conflict.

History of the Toyota Land Cruiser. Born at the battlefront

toyota lc
On guard of peace and imperialism

Communist Korea did not want to accept that the pro-Western southerners were rapidly developing under their noses. Neither did the soviets, who supported the Korean brother in every way they could. And the Korean brother decided to handle the situation simply by attacking South Korea. There’s no telling what would have happened if it hadn’t been for the United States and Japan. It’s possible that the entire region would have been covered in a blood-red communist banner and turned into the kind of concentration camp that North Korea is today. Thank God that did not happen.

тойота
Of course, 80 miles per hour was out of the question with a truck engine

In June 1950, North Korea invaded southern territory. In an effort to support its pro-Western partner, the U.S. took an active part in the fighting, but it was woefully short of lightweight military equipment, off-road vehicles, and transporters. Bringing them halfway around the world from the United States was unprofitable and time-consuming, so the United States called on Japan, as a major ally in the region, to help with the development of vehicles for military purposes.

Toyota Jeep BJ
1953 Toyota Jeep BJ

The Japanese did not need to ask long, especially since the country was not in the best position by the conditions of the war, and in early 1951 was presented the first prototype of the military off-road Toyota Jeep BJ. The car was equipped with an inline 6-cylinder engine, and the overall design was based on the American Willys. Over time, Toyota refined the vehicle, moving further and further away from the irrelevant American design and adapting the SUV for both military and patrol police applications.

70 years of off-roading. History of the Toyota Land Cruiser

The Toyota Jeep BJ soon proved to be so far removed from the Willis design that the Japanese renamed the car the Land Cruiser by 1954. The first civilian copies of the SUV began to appear in the U.S. by 1957.

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Toyota Land Cruiser 20-series

Toyota Land Cruiser 20-series
Toyota Land Cruiser 20-series

Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. was formed on October 31, 1957. The division began selling to American customers the following year and sold 288 vehicles in 12 months. Of these, Americans bought 287 Toyota Crowns and a single Land Cruiser. It was a 20-series car by in-plant designation. It’s pictured here. 

Toyota Land Cruiser 20-series

It was similar to the Jeep, but it had a Toyota inline six-cylinder 3.9L engine under the hood. It developed 86 horsepower and 215 Nm, which was good enough for a simple four-wheel drive SUV.

Toyota Land Cruiser 40-series 

Toyota Land Cruiser 40-series

Despite limited demand, within a few years the LC became the best-selling Toyota model in the States. The name of the SUV became known thanks to the 40-series, which began to be sold in 1960.

Nevertheless, the 40 was still on the assembly line. Finally, Toyota and Jeep settled all the legal details of the labeling and designations, the Japanese received the designation F240 for the engines, and the designation J remained with the Americans. The fact is that in accordance with the results of World War II, the Japanese had no right to supply the army, so all the cars were built for the police and military self-defense forces.

Toyota Land Cruiser 40-series

Toyota made rapid progress in the design of the new Toyota Land Cruiser 40-series, and by the early ’70s introduced all-wheel drive with a transfer case that had a downshift transmission as standard equipment. By the mid-’70s, a new 4.2-liter inline 2-F Type engine with 135 horsepower appears under the hood of the SUV, which lasted in series until 1983 model year.

Land Cruiser FJ43

Two years earlier, Toyota had introduced the top-of-the-line Land Cruiser FJ43 in limited editions at $200,000 apiece. By the way, production of the original forty was discontinued in Brazil only in 2001!

Toyota Land Cruiser 55-series

Toyota Land Cruiser 55-series

The demand for more comfortable SUVs was growing in the US, and the Japanese immediately introduced an alternative to the simple, reliable, but not too comfortable 40-series SUV.

It was a 55-series vehicle, based on the 40-series, but with an increased to 2700 mm wheelbase and a five-door station wagon body. It did not differ in comfort level from the standard car, but in cross-country ability it was equal to the Series 40, which became a legend at that time. Under the hood was installed a new more flexible 3.9-liter inline six with a newly designed block head.

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Toyota Land Cruiser 55-seriesThe transmission and suspension have also been improved. It became softer and more adapted not only for off-road, but for high-speed driving on smooth highways. In addition to the 4-speed manual, a three-speed automatic transmission was offered, which attracted even more customers to the truck. It was on this series of cars for the first time was installed diesel three-liter engine with an output of 78 horsepower.

Toyota Land Cruiser 60-series 

Toyota Land Cruiser 60-series 

In 1980, the now obsolete model was replaced by the incredibly stylish Toyota Land Cruiser 60-series SUV. The body design was completely revised, the stern boxy look replaced the innocent face of the 55-series. The suspension and all-wheel drive system were completely changed. But the competition was growing, so the main efforts were thrown at design and interior comfort. Instead of a bench in the front, split seats were installed.Toyota Land Cruiser 60-series 

Technically there was no point in fundamentally redesigning the car, because Americans liked the inline 6-cylinder engine, which asked for much less expensive gasoline in those crisis years than Chevy and Jeep. With their huge V-8s, they ate twice as much fuel. In addition, the Japanese managed to move the British with their Land Rover – Toyota was cheaper, more economical and more advanced in design.

Toyota Land Cruiser 70-series 

Toyota Land Cruiser 70-series

The BJ40 and 60 continued to dominate the U.S., and Toyota had already launched the new LC 70-series. The main task for the engineers in designing the 70-series was to maintain the off-road capability and increase the number of modifications. Focusing on the U.S. market was no longer a priority. It was necessary to consider the growing competition in Europe and Asia, so the 70-series had a choice of engines, boxes (even several automatic), several different bodies.

Toyota Land Cruiser 70-series

But the concept remained unchanged. It was still an unbreakable frame all-wheel drive off-road vehicle with lockable differentials and eternal spring suspension. By the way, occurrence of 70-series did not mean the production of 50-series and 60-series has stopped. The LC60 eventually evolved into the Land Cruiser 80, which was produced from 1988 to 1999. The 70-series, on the other hand, grew into a younger version of the LC, the Prado, which is still in production today.

Toyota Land Cruiser 80-series 

Toyota Land Cruiser 80-series

Longer, more comfortable and more spacious. The new Land Cruiser 80-series opened a new era in the history of the model. It was introduced in March 1990 as the ’91 model. Under the hood was a 155-horsepower 4-liter atmospheric diesel with six cylinders in a row. Not a new design, but the engine was valued for its incredible reliability and unpretentiousness, as well as maintainability. The transmission included a hard inter-axle differential lock which could be manually disengaged when driving on asphalt. 

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Toyota Land Cruiser 80-series

The car was modified in 1993 and got a new 1FZ-FE engine, also in-line, 4.5 liters, 212 horsepower, 310 Nm of torque. As an option, it offered a forced locking of the front and rear differentials. Thanks to the excellent off-road capability and simplicity, the 80-series conquered the whole of Africa, Asia and South America. Nevertheless, this model was a transition from a utilitarian off-road vehicle to the class of elite cars.

Toyota Land Cruiser 100-series 

Toyota Land Cruiser 100-series

The 100th series went on sale in 1998. Not too much changed externally, the car was seriously transformed on the technical side. A new 230-horsepower 4.7-liter V-8 engine replaced the old inline six. The rigidity of the body was increased by 50%, the front continuous axle was retired, it was replaced by an independent multilever spring suspension. 

Toyota Land Cruiser 100-series

A 2003 restyling made some changes to the car’s front end and added five horses to the V-8 stable. The next restyling in 2006 brought in another small herd, increasing power to 275 horsepower. The handling of the huge SUV became almost lightweight, and interior comfort was on par with premium sedans. Here also for the first time was used the system of hydraulic ground clearance adjustment, which automatically maintains the set clearance, regardless of the load of the car.

Toyota Land Cruiser 200-series 

Toyota Land Cruiser 200-series

The 200-series made its debut in 2008. The principles of the model remained unchanged – premium interior, high off-road ability and power. This series goes on sale with a base 5.7-liter V-8 developing 381 horsepower, paired with a six-speed classic automatic. A whole collection of electronic off-road toys ensures that this car lives up to its name anywhere in the world. The two-hundred was updated in 2016 and got an eight-speed automatic, a facelift, a power boost, and can now accelerate to a hundred in 6.7 seconds.

Toyota Land Cruiser 200-series

The engine range of the SUV varies greatly depending on the market. The most powerful engine is offered in the States, and Asian and African two-hundreds are mostly satisfied with the Prado’s 4-liter V-6. Despite the premium level of comfort and the latest innovations in electronic systems, the Toyota Land Cruiser 200-series remains one of the last honest SUVs on planet Earth.

Toyota Land Cruiser 300-series
The latest Toyota Land Cruiser 300-series to debut in 2021

Today Land Cruiser is three lines of SUVs. The huge and luxurious J200, the star of our market Land Cruiser Prado, which was updated only in 2018, and the constant favorite of Africa and Asia, the J75 model. Something tells us that despite all the trends and the total dominance of useless crossovers, the Land Cruiser will remain in the ranks of honest SUVs forever and ever, until the end of time. Amen.

 

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