The FJ Land Cruiser
When North Korea invaded South Korea in June 1950, Japan was still under American occupation. As the US and United Nations sprung to South Korea’s assistance, Japanese manufacturers were commissioned to supply compact four-wheel drive trucks to the US military. Toyota received huge purchase orders for these vehicles, as it had been one of the primary truck suppliers for Japan’s own forces during the 1940s.
The FJ Land Cruiser formed the backbone of the Toyota brand and became the emissary of Japanese engineering and much of the world’s first experience with Toyota.
Toyota’s earliest Land Cruisers were first built at the request of the U.S. Army, looking for a capable off-road vehicle in a similar style of the WWII-era Jeep and Land Rover in 1951.
The FJ quickly spread worldwide as a fantastic method of transporting people or cargo in places that didn’t have well-maintained roads for uses as varied as farming to ambulances to deserts to rock climbing. After making it up to the 6th station of Mt. Fuji on a showcase run in 1951, the FJ captured the attention of not only groups like the Japanese Forest Service but also makers of Jeep.
First dubbed the Land Cruiser in 1954, the car quickly earned a reputation for reliability, versatility, and the ability to traverse rough terrain with ease. The Toyota was larger and more powerful than the Jeep and boasted a torquey, six-cylinder engine, part-time four-wheel drive, a low-range transfer case, and high ground clearance. As Great Britain had the Land Rover and America had the Jeep, Japan now had its Land Cruiser.
August 1955 saw the introduction of the second-generation (20 series) vehicle, and in the four years following the original concept’s debut it had evolved from military machine to civilian utility vehicle.
In October, 1957, the FJ40 Land Cruiser became the first vehicle Toyota offered in America. A single vehicle sold that fall, but that slow start turned to a serious success.
The UK started official sales of the Land Cruiser in 1975, and the landmark million was achieved in 1980.
This particular project began with an authentic FJ40 hardtop with a flip-down rear hatch with small double doors.
The FJ40 model made legends out of the FJ and the F engine. Its first production year was 1960, and it debuted with a short wheelbase version.
The FJ40 is one of the most popular Land Cruiser models of all time, with countless options and configurations, which gave us lots of possibilities to work with.
In 1965 the 50,000th Land Cruiser rolled off the production line, followed by the 100,000th in 1968. Four years later the total stood at 200,000 examples, while the 800,000th was built in 1979 soon after a minor facelift
The Land Cruiser led Toyota’s charge into new markets and redefined what a 4×4 could be. Over its 60-year history, it carried passengers across rocky hills, shallow streams, desert sands and highway bridges.
From its beginnings in 1951 as a mobility vehicle for Japan’s National Police Reserve, and then through sixty years of continuous production, fourteen model lines and thousands of variations, the Land Cruiser is the longest produced vehicle in Toyota’s history.
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