Like the Jeep and the Land Rover before it, the Toyota Land Cruiser is a vehicle whose reputation was hard earned in battle, mud, and desert sand. This Japanese take on the all-purpose off-roader can thank the original Jeep for its existence, which is little surprise when comparing the two trucks side-by-side. In 1950, the US Government commissioned Toyota to build 100 Willys Jeeps that were to be used in the Korean War. Toyota obliged but immediately saw room for improvement on the old American design. In 1951 Toyota developed their own prototype drawing on the best the Jeep and the Land Rover had to offer. Production of the “Toyota Jeep BJ” began in 1953 and the vehicle was put into service primarily for police and military. In 1954, the civilian version gained the Land Cruiser name and grew in popularity as an all-round utility vehicle for farmers or anyone needing to get over rough terrain. In 1960, the 40-series Land Cruiser was unveiled with all-new body styling, an improved chassis and new engine options. 40-Series Land Cruisers were offered in a variety of body styles ranging from the most popular short-wheelbase convertible, to long wheelbase troop carriers and pickups. Also, like the Land Rover and Jeep, it was highly adaptable and saw duty in battle, fire service, ambulance service and countless other industrial and agricultural roles. It served at the hands of soldiers and warlords alike on virtually every continent around the globe. In regular production for 24 years, the FJ has become a legend for its amazing ruggedness as much as its tough-guy good looks. Hundreds of thousands of Land Cruiser FJ40s are still in service in all corners of the earth, no matter how remote they may be.
Our featured 1979 FJ40 Hardtop is a wonderful example finished in the evocative shade of Olive Green (code 653) with a white roof. This fabulous truck has been treated to a sympathetic but comprehensive restoration including new many suspension and driveline components. It drives exceptionally well, and we have thoroughly enjoyed putting a few miles on this fine FJ. The body is very good and authentically restored, showing the subtle seams and imperfections it would have had when it left the factory in 1979. This example is equipped with the desirable “ambulance door” arrangement in the back, making ingress and egress easier for rear passengers, and allowing access to the rear without moving the swing-out spare tire. Like the body, the paintwork is very good. It has not been over-restored, but it is very attractive and in a fabulous original color that suits the rugged styling very well. Exterior trim is correctly restored; the painted bumpers and white painted grille surround keeping in line with the basic, sturdy appeal. Nice details such as the Japanese Koito headlamps point to the level of care given this outstanding FJ.
Climbing aboard gives you a real sense of purpose – this is a tough hewn tool that’s ready for almost anything you throw at it. The front bucket seats and rear jump seats are upholstered in correct gray vinyl which is in excellent condition, showing virtually no wear. The dash, steering wheel and controls are all correct and original, and it is equipped with a heater – about the only concession to “luxury” you’d be likely to find in an FJ40. The only deviation from standard is the application of textured bedliner material which not only provides a layer of protection for the bare floors, but also helps to reduce vibration and dampen cabin sounds. The bedliner has been painted body color to mimic the factory interior treatment. Rubber mats also provide a bit of additional protection.
We are particularly fond of the way this FJ drives; it displays excellent road manners and feels exceptionally well-sorted. Brakes are strong, steering is tight and the truck sits proudly on its 31” x 10” BF Goodrich All-Terrain TA tires – which look particularly good on the basic, gray painted steelies adorned with dog-dish hubcaps as original. As part of the restoration, the suspension has been thoroughly refreshed with high-quality Old Man Emu components used throughout. Toyota’s virtually bulletproof 2F inline-six displaces 4.2 liters and returns 135 horsepower and a quite useful 210 ft. lbs. of torque. On this truck, the engine bay is extremely well-detailed with original decals and labels in place, and a superbly clean presentation. We are big fans of these rugged, brawny little Toyotas and this is surely of the best we’ve had the pleasure to offer. The high quality, well-detailed restoration lends great looks to match the excellent mechanical condition. This FJ40 is ready to be enjoyed on the road or on your favorite trails.
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