Toyotafest this year took the opportunity to honor what could be Toyota’s most legendary model. Sure, a neck-snapping Supra, drifting-birthing AE86, or luxe Lexus may be the dream cars of the first world, but for the rest of the globe the Land Cruiser is the ultimate aspirational machine.
Normally at Toyotafest, Toyota brings out several cars from its collection — a classic Corolla, a race car or two, maybe even a 2000GT. This year, however, they made a statement with a cadre of nothing but Cruisers.
The lineup began with a 1961 FJ25, a beautifully simple machine that has no roof, a flat piece of metal for a dashboard, and straps for doors. Toyota also brought out a cream colored FJ40 and a red FJ45 pickup (lead photo), both thoroughly restored long before they were 6-figure machines at auction.
Our favorite from the Toyota collection was a 1965 FJ45V wagon, a rare predecessor to the FJ55. With a 135-horsepower inline-six and a three-speed transmission, it’s probably not much quicker than a horse, but it’s basically immortal. According to Toyota, it’s price when new was $3,495.
The Land Cruiser experts at Specter Off Road brought a 1989 FJ62 that they called the “Swan Song.” That’s because this was the last H-series diesel conversion founder Marv Specter finished before his passing in 2014.
The Land Cruiser may be the ultimate post-apocalypse vehicle, but Specter’s custom 1975 FJ45 6×6 makes extra sure it can survive any scenario with an extra drive axle and six driven wheels.
Sonkei Blue was started by Rick Ishitani, a Sergeant Detective with the LAPD. Sonkei means “respect” in Japanese, so the name means “respect blue” and is a brand that raises money and awareness for law enforcement. Rick is also a Land Cruiser fan, as evidenced by his 80-series decked out in Volk TE37LX and Falken Wild Peaks, complete with LED light bar, snorkel, and LAPD colors. It’s actually a Lexus LX 450, but either way it’s not a patrol vehicle you’ll be able to hide from.
Land Cruisers came in a dizzying variety of configurations — short and long wheelbase; regular, pickup and wagon body styles; diesel and petrol engines, and so on. No matter the combo, though, the result was always a machine that never dies. 150,000 miles is just about the break-in period for the drivetrain, and it will keep on truckin’ long after the body turns into iron oxide. The owner of this FJ60 says it all with his license plate: ARMGDDN.
It’s no surprise, then, that over its 60 years in US the Land Cruiser has become as American as baseball. Its go-anywhere capabilities and dogged reliability has earned the Land Cruiser a huge following. An entire industry has evolved around making aftermarket Land Cruiser accessories, which allows owners like James So to build his 1978 FJ40 rig.
The big difference between the Land Cruiser aftermarket and that of any other Japanese vehicle is an interesting one. While Celica, MR2 and Supra owners still have to turn to Japan to get the choicest performance parts, anything you could ever want for a Land Cruiser is available right here in the US of A. It’s part of the automotive ecosystem.
Not only are Land Cruisers unkillable, even the model itself is more resilient than anything else in the Toyota USA family tree. It’s been 60 years since Toyota opened its doors for business in the US, and the Land Cruiser is the only model that’s been available for sale for every single one of them. No wonder Toyota USA chose to celebrate this single model on its 60th anniversary.
To be continued…
In the meantime, in case you missed it, check out Part 01 of our 2017 Toyotafest coverage, as well as that of Toyotafest 2016 (Part 01, 02, 03, and 04), Toyotafest 2015 (Part 01, 02, and 03), Toyotafest 2014 (Part 01, 02, 03, 04), Toyotafest 2013 (Part 01, 02, 03, 04), Toyotafest 2012 (Part 01, 02, 03, 04), Toyotafest 2011 (Part 01, 02, 03, 04, 05), and Toyotafest 2010 (Part 01, 02, 03).