Rivaling the Land Rover Discovery, Range Rover, Nissan Patrol, and the Mitsubishi Pajero, the Toyota Land Cruiser secured its fame in history for its rugged dependability and all-terrain prowess. Spanning for more than sixty years, the Land Cruiser is Toyota's longest-running vehicle in the company's history. The Land Cruiser has gained popularity over the years and it is the best-selling full-size, four-wheel drive, body-on-frame vehicle in Australia. Conquering the tough Australian outback, the Toyota Land Cruiser proved itself to be one of the best off-road and on-road vehicles in the market today.
The BJ and 20-Series: The Toyota Jeep
In the advent of the Korean War, the United States government asked Toyota to build a military light utility vehicle patterned after the Willy's Jeep. Powered by a Type B 3.4-liter 6-cylinder OHV gasoline engine, the Toyota "Jeep" BJ was coupled with a part-time 4-wheel drive system and it was larger than the original Jeep. The BJ-T (Touring), BJ-R (Radio), and the BJ-J (Cowl-chassis) was also introduced in 1953. In 1954, Toyota's technical director, Hanji Umehara, called the Toyota Jeep BJ "Land Cruiser", named after their competitor the Land Rover. He wanted a name that sounded less dignified. In 1955, the Toyota Jeep 20-series was made to appeal to the civilian crowd. The 20-series had a better ride, thanks to its 4-plate leaf springs and more stylish bodywork. The first Land Cruiser station wagon was built in 1958.
The 40-series: The First Land Cruiser Diesel Variant
New steel presses and a 3.9-liter F engine were introduced to the Land Cruiser 40-series during the 1960's. In 1965, the Land Cruiser was named as the best selling Toyota in the United States. On that same year, the Toyota Land Cruiser's global production sales surpassed 50,000 vehicles. The first Land Cruiser diesel variant was offered in 1974, powered by a 4-cylinder 3.0-liter B-diesel engine. Front disc brakes, a wider body, square bezel surrounding headlights, power steering, and a cooler were included in the Land Cruiser for the first time in 1979.
The 50-Series: Toyota's Moose
The 4-door Land Cruiser station wagon was introduced in 1967. Nicknamed the "Moose", this Land Cruiser was designed with a longer wheelbase and it had a fully enclosed box frame members. Toyota offered 3.9-liter and 4.2-liter engines coupled with a 3 or 4-speed automatic transmissions. This particular Land Cruiser model was designed for the North American and Australian market only.
The 60-Series: Introducing the Direct-Injection Turbo Diesel Engine
The new Land Cruiser was a 4-door wagon which accommodated 5 to 8 people. Designed to compete with the other sport utility vehicles in the market, creature comforts like air conditioning, an upgraded interior and a rear heater were included in the Land Cruiser. The 12H-T direct-injection turbo diesel engine was also introduced during this generation.
The 70-Series: A Beefier Land Cruiser
There were some changes made to the Land Cruiser during this generation to improve its performance. The 5-cylinder SOHC 1PZ, a 6-cylinder SOHC 1 HZ and the 3.0-liter KZ turbo-charged diesel engines were the options available for the Land Cruiser. Drive train modifications, longer rear leaf springs, and a coil-spring suspension were some of the improvements made on the Land Cruiser.
The 80-Series: The Land Cruiser Collector's Edition
A full-time 4-wheel drive system and anti-lock brakes were now made available to the Land Cruiser. The 6-cylinder 3-F, 6-cylinder SOHC diesel, and the 1HD-T direct-injection turbo diesel engines were introduced to the Land Cruiser 80-series. Driver and passenger airbags, larger brakes, a High Pinion Electric Locking front differential, and front and rear axle lockers were also made available on the 80-series. In 1997, a special Land Cruiser 80s was built for the collectors. Embroidered floor mats, automatic climate control, special gray side moldings, and black pearl badging were featured on this limited-run collector's item.
The 90-Series: The Toyota Prado
Available as a 5-door long wheelbase and a 3-door short wheelbase, the Land Cruiser gained the nickname "Prado." The 3.4-liter 24-valve 6-cylinder, 2.7-liter 4-cylinder, and 3.0-liter 4-cylinder turbo-diesel engines were made available for the Prado. This particular Land Cruiser series was geared towards urban usage and occasional off-road activities.
The 100 and 200-Series: The Modern Land Cruiser
Named the "Grand Cruiser", the Land Cruiser 100-series started production in 1998 and it was patterned after the 80-series. The 100-series was fitted with a wider chassis, independent front suspension, and a 4.7-liter V8 2UZ gasoline engine, a first for the Land Cruiser. The Lexus LX470 was designed after the Land Cruiser's 100-series platform. The 200-series is the latest incarnation of the Toyota Land Cruiser which offers numerous technological features for the modern driver.