Toyota’s legendary, hardscrabble Land Cruiser is one of those rare vehicles that has proved itself time and again in the harshest of environments, earning every bit of its reputation for faithful dependability and bullet-proof reliability. Like the Land Rover and the Jeep, the ‘Cruiser was built for military duty – capable of traversing virtually any surface from muddy jungles to desert sand. This Japanese take on the all-purpose off-roader can thank the American military and the original Jeep for its existence, which would come as 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 by soldiers and Military Police stationed in Japan during the Korean War. Toyota obliged but immediately saw room for improvement on the old American design. In 1951 Toyota developed their own prototype which drew the best the Jeep and the British Land Rover had to offer, combined into one new package. Production of the “Toyota Jeep BJ” began in 1953 and the vehicle was put into service by American MPs. In 1954, a civilian version was introduced, gaining the Land Cruiser name. Like the Jeep in America, the Land Cruiser proved to be very popular with farmers, utilities, or anyone who needed a simple but versatile vehicle capable of handling rough terrain. In 1960, the 40-series Land Cruiser was unveiled with all-new body styling, an improved chassis and new engine options. It remained in regular production for 24 years, gaining legendary status for its amazing ruggedness as much as its tough-guy good looks. It served at the hands of soldiers and warlords alike on virtually every continent on the globe and has been adapted to handle countless jobs from ditch digging to snow plowing to beach patrol. Thousands of Land Cruiser FJ40s are still in service in all corners of the earth, no matter how remote they may be.
As with its commercial rivals from England and the USA, Toyota Land Cruisers were offered in a variety of body styles ranging from the most popular short-wheelbase convertible, to a long wheelbase troop carrier and 2-passenger pickup. Our featured 1978 Toyota FJ40 rides on the popular 90” short-wheelbase chassis and is fitted with the factory two-door hardtop body. This truck also features the desirable “ambulance door” rear treatment, which makes for easy access to the two additional jump seats in the rear. Starting in 2006, this truck was the subject of a body-off, nut-and-bolt restoration performed by a dedicated FJ enthusiast in the Pacific Northwest. The entire process was painstakingly documented and an impressive binder of photos, records and receipts for new and new-old-stock parts is included. Today it presents in excellent condition throughout, having seen only light use since the restoration was completed.
Finished in Toyota Beige (464) with a white roof, the body presents in very fine order. It is straight and tidy, with excellent paint and factory appropriate panel fit and finish. It is a high quality restoration that retains the rugged charm of the original, without appearing over restored. During the restoration process, any panel replacement was done so using factory and NOS parts and the body remains completely stock with the only exception being the fitment of a Warn 8000lb winch.
Inside, the basic and utilitarian interior is presented as original, with black vinyl seats and a simple, functional dash. In the interest of all-season comfort, a Vintage Air A/C system has been recently added though all original heater/ventilation parts have been retained and will be included in the sale for the sake of preservation. The side-facing jump seats in the rear are in excellent condition, and some basic carpeting has been fitted to protect the original-style rubber matting from scuffs.
According to the restoration records, the frame was stripped completely bare, media blasted and coated with POR-15 for lifetime protection. The FJ now sits proudly on HFS Suspension; a high quality setup designed by the Toyota experts at Cool Cruisers of Texas. The mild lift allows for the fitment of chunky 33” BF Goodrich tires which fill out the arches and give the truck a fantastic, rugged look – while of course increasing off-road capabilities. Those tires are mounted to original steel wheels and dog-dish hubcaps which ensure it retains its original charm. As part of the restoration, the chassis now features an updated power steering system consisting of a GM-Saginaw box which upgrades the steering in terms of both reduced effort and increased reliability. The 4.2 liter “2F” inline six was completely rebuilt, and has been fully detailed with correct markings, fittings and hardware. The engine and chassis presentation are very good throughout.
Still remaining in excellent condition since being treated to its meticulous restoration, this FJ40 hard top is ready for adventure. Sensible upgrades ensure it remains comfortable and dependable in all conditions, yet the simple, rugged charm of the original design has not been compromised. This is a wonderful example in all respects, ready for enjoyment whether you plan to use it on the trails or for runs to the local village.