In the latest episode of Jay Leno’s Garage, the car collector and former talk show host gets behind the wheel of a Toyota Land Cruiser fire truck. It’s no secret that the prices of 60-series Land Cruisers are rapidly rising, and thanks to their reputation for indestructibility even examples with well above 200,000 miles on the clock are asking $15,000 to $30,000. One whose odometer hasn’t turned over yet? That’s Lexus money. This civil servant, on the other hand, has done all but 18,000 km (11,184 miles) in its lifetime, and just might be a clever way to get into a Land Cruiser on the cheap.
Of course, to get that low, low municipal mileage you’d have to deal with a poverty-spec machine. Rigs like this particular specimen started out as a 1990 Land Cruiser FJ62V and was converted to emergency duty by Morita, Japan’s leading fire truck maker.
Being a government vehicle, it starts out with the most basic trim, meaning it has vinyl seats, a vinyl floor mat instead of carpeting, no power steering, no power mirrors, and no aircon. It’s also only available in a stick, while US-market FJ62s all came with automatics attached to their 3F inline-sixes. There’s also the matter of the cargo area, which has been replaced aft of the rear doors with about 1,300 pounds of fire-fighting equipment.
Also, we would be remiss if we didn’t remind you to take some of the video’s contents with a grain of salt. For example, Japan has always had much larger fire trucks than this Cruiser, based on Hino, Isuzu, Nissan-Diesel, and heavy-duty Toyota rigs. Morita itself has been making heavy-duty pump trucks since 1928 and ladder trucks since 1933, and Morita trucks have been a common sight across southeast Asia since the early 1960s.
These Land Cruisers were most popular in mountainous and northern regions thanks to their four-wheel-drive capabilities. In fact, prior to 1954, the F-series straight-six was found only in commercial-duty Toyota trucks and buses. It was brought to the Land Cruiser line specifically to power a fire engine variant due to its high load requirements.
However, the F-series engines proved popular enough that they became a staple of the lineup. It made the Land Cruiser what it was around the world for the latter half of the 20th century, until it was replaced in the 80-series by the 1FZ. That makes this particular fire truck, a 1990 model, a neat little bookend that spans the legend-making years of Land Cruiser history. Ask any kid, fire trucks are inherently cool, but that tidy bow makes this one even cooler.