Toyota’s rugged and legendary 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, bullet-proof dependability. Like the American Jeep and British Land Rover, the Land Cruiser was born for military duty and needed the capability to traverse virtually any surface from muddy jungles to desert sand. The genesis of the Land Cruiser came with a post-war agreement between Toyota and the US Military. 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 venerable 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, and the Land Cruiser name was born. 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, particularly in the Asian and South American markets.
In 1954, the F-series 3.9-liter inline six made its first appearance in fire engine chassis where its additional power was a necessity. Soon after, this larger engine was available across the Land Cruiser line. The civilian FJ25 led Toyota’s expansion into new markets, where the sturdy and dependable little truck paved the way for the hugely successful 40-series. Since the 1950s, Land Cruisers have served at the hands of soldiers and warlords alike on virtually every continent on the globe. ‘Cruisers are adapted to handle countless jobs – from firefighting to plowing fields and snow, and many are still in loyal service in far-reaching parts of the world.
This 1957 FJ25 is an extremely rare and desirable early-production FJ-series Land Cruiser. This truck has been treated to a comprehensive restoration performed by a Toyota specialist. Freshly completed in 2018, it is very attractive, finished in dark green with brown seats. The deep green paint and body quality is good without appearing over restored, which is appropriate for a utilitarian vehicle such as this. Civilian FJs were distinguished from military versions with the addition of chrome wheel covers and discreet chrome strips on the horizontal grille. The grille trim and headlight surrounds are in good original condition, while the “dog dish” hubcaps have been restored. Body color steel wheels are fitted with fresh, period-correct Firestone military tires. A single side-mounted spare wheel recalls the early Willys Jeep, and a Jerry can is strapped to the tailgate. Unapologetically basic, the FJ25 remains hugely appealing.
The interior of the FJ25 is about as elemental as it gets. The seats are covered in brown upholstery, with matching boots for the gear shift, transfer case selector, and handbrake. A set of rubber mats protect the freshly painted floors, and the “doors” are limited to a pair of nylon straps to keep occupants in place. The controls, switches, and instruments are good original items set in the body-color dash panel.
Toyota’s legendary 3.9-liter inline six presents well, with the block number matching that on the firewall tag. It shows well, with a host of new components including the carburetor and ancillaries, and good quality paint finishes on the air-cleaner housing, radiator, and other accessories. The chassis, axles, and suspension were painted to match the body, and all present in excellent condition.
This rare and fascinating early Land Cruiser is ready to be enjoyed in any number of events, or for merely “cruising” to your local shops. It is one of the earliest of its kind in North America and represents a significant and vital period for Land Cruiser enthusiasts. Rarely do such early pre-40 Series FJs become available, and this is an exceptional opportunity to acquire a restored and usable example.