Toyota’s legendary Land Cruiser name has an enviable status in the automotive world. The name is synonymous with dependability and capability, with a reputation that few manufacturers can claim to share. Over 65 years, Land Cruisers of all kinds have been proven in some of the harshest environments on the planet, with Jeep and Land Rover counted among the few capable of standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Toyota’s finest. The origins of the Toyota Land Cruiser are traced back to 1950 when the US Government commissioned Toyota to build 100 Willys Jeeps under license to be used by Military Police stationed in Japan during the Korean War. Toyota obliged; however, they found plenty of room for improvement on the older American design. In 1951 Toyota developed a prototype 4x4 which drew the best the Jeep and the British Land Rover had to offer, combined into a well-built, thoughtfully engineered package. Production of the “Toyota Jeep BJ” began in 1953 with the earliest examples reserved strictly for use by Military and Police. In 1954, a civilian version arrived, becoming the first to wear the now iconic Land Cruiser name.
Like its American and British counterparts, the civilian Land Cruiser proved to be popular in the agriculture and construction industries, or anyone who needed a simple but versatile vehicle capable of handling rough terrain. Production gradually ramped-up through the 1950s, and in 1960, Toyota really hit its stride when the J2 and J4-series Land Cruisers debuted with all-new body styling, an improved chassis, and new engine options. As Alexander Wolfarth says in his book “The Land Cruiser Legend,” “The BJ lit the torch, the J2 carried it around the globe.”
Even more than its commercial rivals from England and the USA, J4-series Toyota Land Cruisers were available with a dizzying array of body styles, chassis, and engine options. Known to many as the FJ40, this massively popular version remained in regular production for an astounding 24 years, earning legendary status for its ruggedness and dependability as much as its tough-guy good looks. In its various forms, the J2 and J4 served with soldiers, warlords, farmers and miners on virtually every continent on earth, adapted to handle countless jobs and earning its legendary status one rugged mile at a time.
This 1981 Land Cruiser FJ40 hardtop is an outstanding example of Toyota’s iconic off-roader, with a high-quality restoration that features many exceptional original components. Finished in brown with a white roof, this truck is well-detailed, with an authentic appeal that looks as if it just rolled out of a Toyota showroom. The bodywork and paint are faithful to original, with careful attention paid to avoid looking over-restored, while maintaining a high degree of quality. Numerous details reveal the level of care lavished upon this Land Cruiser, from the hard-to-find Toyota-branded bumper cones to the gray-painted wheels with factory “dog dish” hubcaps. The wheels wear aggressive Firestone Super Traction ND off-road tires for a rugged, period correct look.
The faithfully restored interior is trimmed in original gray vinyl on the front seats, side-facing jump seats, and door panels. The hard wearing material is believed to be original, as it shows some light creasing that is consistent with age while remaining supple and clean. Factory correct fittings include the original steering wheel, gear lever gaiters, and even the push-button “ToCars” AM radio. Latches, hinges, and hardware still retain the gold cadmium plating and the doors shut with precision and a solid feel. About the only deviation from standard appears to be the high-quality, fitted rubber floor liner in the front. Paint on the rear floor is excellent, and the rear seats look unused since the restoration.
A similar level of quality and detail carries on to the engine and chassis. This truck retains its original 4.2-liter 2F inline-six cylinder engine, and as a later model, it benefits from factory power brakes. The big six runs well, making 135 horsepower and 217 ft-lbs of torque at just 1800 rpm. The engine is very well-detailed, with an authentic and clean presentation that doesn’t appear over-restored. Power is sent through a four-speed manual gearbox and two-speed transfer case with manual locking hubs. Riding on on high-quality Dobinson suspension from Australia, the chassis is exceptionally clean, with gold cad-plated hardware from front to rear.
The Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser is one of the world’s most iconic vehicles. From African Sands to South American jungles to snowy runs to the shops, Land Cruisers have seen drivers through it all. With a high-quality restoration and authentic, factory-fresh feel, this is a prime example for collectors and off-road enthusiasts alike, ready to live up to the legend.