The Story of Toyota Land Cruiser

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(via Land Cruiser Downloads )

 

Cutting through rivers, taming the harsh dirt roads and scaling mountain peaks – the Toyota Land Cruiser has been off-road adventuring for over 60 years. Debuting in 1951, the Land Cruiser is the longest produced vehicle in Toyota’s history. It has gone through many different phases in the course of its evolution: as an off-road patrol vehicle, a cross-country four wheel drive vehicle and a recreational family vehicle. The changes that the Land Cruiser has gone through are a testament to its durability and lasting appeal. Here’s an abridged version of the Land Cruiser’s storied history:

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(via Land Cruiser Downloads )

 

In 1951 the Toyota Land Cruiser went by a different name: the Model BJ. The BJ was the embodiment of Toyota founder Kiichiro Toyoda’s dream of building a low price, high performance vehicle that had a good fuel economy. The BJ was the result of Toyota’s bid to produce a four-wheel drive truck for the U.S. Army. Though the U.S. Army ultimately passed on the BJ, it later went on to climb to the sixth station on the trail to the top of Mt. Fuji. After achieving such an incredible feat – the first vehicle to do so – the BJ became the official patrol vehicle for Japanese police. In 1954 the BJ was renamed “Land Cruiser’ – an accurate moniker that helped launch the vehicle into mass production.

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(via Toyota Vehicle Heritage)

 

1955 marked the year of the second generation Land Cruiser: The Land Cruiser 20-series. The second series of the Land Cruiser was starting to transition from a military to a civilian vehicle. The 20 had a more rounded bodywork, integrated headlights and shorter wheelbase that improved overall maneuverability. The “more civilized” 20-series had a roomier cabin so passenger and driver wouldn’t feel like they were sharing the same seat. Another creature comfort of the 20 was its air-conditioning system – something that wasn’t all that common in 1955. The second Land Cruiser was powered by a cast iron F-series engine, which gave a 23% power increase. The low-compression engine powered Toyota vehicles from 1948 – 1992; the longest running Toyota engine to date.

The success of the 20 lead to a series of milestones for the Land Cruiser over the next few years. In 1956 the Land Cruiser became the first Toyota vehicle to be sold to mass markets such as Brazil, Saudi Arabia, the Middle East, South East Asia and South America. 1957 marked the next US military trial for the Land Cruiser. Though the US military once again passed on Toyota’s bid, the durability and sheer power of the Land Cruiser couldn’t be denied and in 1958 the Land Cruiser finally made its way into American and European markets.

The third generation: the 40-series launched in 1960. The 40-series integrated low ratio gearing for better acceleration and off-road performance. Though a third passenger seat was added to the vehicle, it was a bare bones vehicle that only allowed for the bare essentials – it didn’t even have sound insulation. The 40-series was also the first diesel engine Land Cruiser.

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(via Toyota Vehicle Heritage)

 

1967 introduced the 55-series, asserting the Land Cruiser as a cross-country four-wheel drive vehicle. The 55 was essentially the first station wagon, allowing Toyota to expand their horizons in terms of target audience. Not only was the Land Cruiser known for its off-roading ability, but it also met American concerns for safety and highway driving.

The notion of the Land Cruiser as a family vehicle continued to grow with the 60-series, introduced in 1980. Unlike the minimalist approach of prior models, the 60 embraced in customization. The 60 could maintain up to ten-seat formats and its wall-to-wall upholstery – making it appealing for families.

The 80-series was a smash success in 1990. Demand for the 80 was so high that the production line running round the clock for its first six months. The Land Cruiser continued to increase its focus on safety features with the introduction of airbags and anti-lock brakes. The luxury element of the Land Cruiser also met a new standard as the entire vehicle was upholstered in leather, including the steering wheel.

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(via Toyota Vehicle Heritage)

 

1992 saw the release of the 100 series Station Wagon, improving upon the fuel economy of the 80 with the first Toyota V8 engine. The 100 was designed for the 21st Century as a “technology carrier.” Such technological innovations from the 100 include traction and stability controls, a hydropneumatic suspension with adjustable ride height, multi-stage shock absorber settings as well as electronic brake-force distribution.

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(via Toyota Land Cruiser 200 Gallery)

 

The current model of Land Cruiser is the 200-series. After five years in development, the 200 was introduced in 2008. The 200 had the benefits Toyota’s full line electronic driving aids including Smart Entry, Smart Start, off-road cruise control and an optional rear-view camera. The 200’s V8 engine resides in a reworked engine bay that allows for excellent fuel economy and more room in the passenger cell.

The Toyota Land Cruiser has come a long way since 1951’s BJ. It’s become accessible to families across the globe while maintaining its reputation as a cross-country trailblazer. The Land Cruiser has gone from the (not so) little engine that could to the workhorse that has driven the cross country vehicle to up its game as a whole. For over 60 years the Land Cruiser started a global adventure that hasn’t stopped since. The Toyota Land Cruiser has proven time and again that it has the drive to innovate on and off-road: to literally pave the way.

Sources:

History of the Toyota Land Cruiser (Station Wagon models)

Toyota Land Cruiser Vehicle Heritage

Toyota Land Cruiser Chronology

The Story of the Toyota Land Crusier
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