The Toyota Land Cruiser came from humble beginnings in 1951. With over 60 years of non-interrupted production, the vehicle has carved out a niche in automotive history for its rugged durability and long-lasting appeal to the casual or off-road driver. There are 14 separate model lines with thousands of variations that have appealed to an international audience. Here’s a brief review of the vehicle’s history.
1951 Land Cruisers
The Land Cruiser had its origins in a prototype that was designed for use in the Korean War by the American army. It’s name was derived from the B-type engine, which incorporated vast improvements on the Jeep used by the U.S. Military. In a feat of power and prowess, the Land Cruiser was driven up the flank of Mount Fuji at over an elevation of 8,000 feet. This was farther than any other four-wheel drive vehicle at the time. The police supervisors were favorably impressed and immediately began commissioning the vehicle.
1960 Land Cruiser
The 40 series Land Cruiser was launched in the 1960s when the manufacturers had hopes of entering the export business and delivering vehicles to South America and the Middle-East. It caught on very quickly as a heavy duty workhorse and was offered in two additional body styles for different consumer applications. The FJ55, launched in 1966, revealed the first station wagon body style, a predecessor of LC200 V8. The extra cargo area and seating appealed to the public. Production reached over 50,000 in 1965, making the Land Cruiser the highest selling Toyota brand in the United States.
1980 Land Cruiser
The years of 1981 to 1987 saw the rise of the model 60 series, which maintained its heritage of a nearly indestructible and reliable off-road vehicle. Slight improvements to the engine and chassis evolved, but now an emphasis was placed on creature comforts that would appeal to everyday drivers. Air conditioning and improvement to the cabin and interior layout gave it more of a luxury appeal while still maintaining its rugged disposition. The thoughtful add-on packages and accessories made it a prime candidate for the just emerging SUV market.
1996 Land Cruiser
The United Kingdom had its own name for the 90 series, the Colorado, and it was soon joined by the 100 series, called the Amazon, in 1998. This created the two-model lineup of the Land Cruiser V8 and the Land Cruiser, which saw updates in 2008 and 2009.
2005 Land Cruiser
The first unmodified, standard Land Cruiser joined in the Paris-Dakar off-road race competition in 1979, easily dominating the competition, which bolstered its rugged and reliable reputation. Toyota went on to enter again in 1998, finishing first and second in three consecutive years. The year 2005 marked their greatest victory, garnering an historic finish of first, second and third place. This cemented its reputation as the world’s premiere off-road vehicle.
Today’s Land Cruisers
Today’s Toyota Land Cruiser is as iconic and loved as ever. As of 2013, many of its optional luxury and safety features have been made standard. It now has a power moon roof, push-button start, heated rear and front seats, Bluetooth, a DVD system, rear camera system, full navigation system and parking sensors. The Multi-terrain Select programs aids in arresting brake locking and wheel spin, and offers driving condition choices that include sand, mud, loose rock, rock, rock and dirt and Mogul. The 200 series has four trim options: VX, GXL, GX and the Sahara.
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