The famous World War II Willys Jeep continued after 1945 as the civilian CJ model, offering a no-frills, rugged four-wheel drive vehicle. Toyota certainly thought it was a good idea, after building Jeeps to a Willys spec for American troops to use in the nearby Korean War.
In the mid-1950s these Toyota Jeep clones evolved into the Land Cruiser, which would become the company’s enduring four-wheel-drive flagship offering. After various developments of the Jeep format, the 40 series appeared in 1960 and would last for a quarter of a century.
This Land Cruiser line would establish Toyota’s off-roaders as the toughest and most reliable money could buy — especially appreciated by Aussies who lived in the daren’t-break-down Outback. The compact two-door FJ40 was the new generation’s firstborn, with fresh body styling and low-range gearing. Mind you, the designer must have loved his set square, as the body was remarkably box-like with lots of precise straight lines.
The FJ40 was the short-wheelbase option, with fold-flat windscreen. Larger mid-wheelbase (BJ43) and long-wheelbase (HJ45) versions were offered later. The FJ had a petrol engine whilst the larger pair were diesel-engined. The FJ40’s transmission evolved over time from three-, to four- and finally a five-speed automatic. Petrol engines also changed, from the F 3.9 litre (until 1974) to the 2F 4.2 litre (from 1974 to 1984). Body types over time would be two-door soft and hardtops, two-door pickup and four-door wagon.
Early FJ40s can be hard to find, especially in America, as the customizers love to fit them with alternative engines (and pretty much everything else) in order to indulge in the gravity-defying automobile art of rock crawling. But originals are appreciated as Toyota’s true classic off-roaders, before the SUV started its inexorable drive into refined suburban streets.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1960 (until 1984)
3,878 cc, 3,955 cc or 4,230 cc Straight Six
Varied according to engine and transmission – top speed typically 85 mph (138 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 29 secs.
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Classification of the Land Cruiser series involved an engine series designation (eg F = original petrol engine) and body style (eg 40 = original two-door short wheelbase) separated by a J for Jeep. The Land Cruiser Series 40 contained literally dozens of different variations, with a raft of letter codes to describe individual characteristics; this system can help pin down the exact model type.