Toyota Land Cruiser Endures Six Decades, Launches Commemorative Models
Jeep isn't the only off-roader celebrating a milestone this year (70 years). The Toyota Land Cruiser, another top four-wheeler and well-known around the world, has hit 60 years and is celebrating with commemorative models in the United Kingdom.
In 1951, Toyota started producing the BJ for military use. At the time, the truck-based Jeep doppelganger wasn't known as the Land Cruiser yet, but impressed drivers and onlookers when it was able to scale over 8200 feet on Mount Fuji. By 1954, the Type 25 BJ was formally named the Land Cruiser by then-managing director Hanji Umehara (in response to the Land Rover) and would be a key addition to civilian fleets all over Japan.
During the 1950s and 1960s, the growing automaker focused on exporting the 20 Series and now-classic FJ40 to developing markets in South America, and the Middle and Far East. The United States would get acquainted with the Land Cruiser during the mid-1960s, and all sorts of wheelbase lengths, engines, and hard and soft tops would spawn many variations of Toyota's most famous off-roader.
In 1966, the 50 Series station wagon would help shift the Land Cruiser from a utilitarian two-door design to a more refined off-roader with added passenger space for the family. After a few more generations ran their course, Toyota revised it once again in 1985 to suit the urban customer even more, though the requisite four-wheel drive system would never be removed.
By the 1980s, there would be three distinct Land Cruiser lines in service around the world, with the 70, 150 (aka the Prado), and 200 Series currently in production. In the U.S., Toyota continues to sell the 200 Series as a Land Cruiser, and today's Lexus GX SUV and FJ Cruiser are based on the 150 Series. Nowadays, the U.S.-spec Land Cruiser is a lot more posh than its predecessors, and over 5 million copies have been sold in 188 markets since it broke onto the scene 60 years ago.
Sixty years is a significant amount of time in the auto world, and the U.K. market will get 60th Anniversary models for their smaller Land Cruiser and bigger Land Cruiser V8 (our U.S. market equivalent). They are priced at 49,950 GBP ($80,800) and 61,950 GBP ($100,200), respectively, and come fully loaded with all the trimmings appropriate for a full-size SUV today. Standard features include multi-zone climate control, parking sensors, leather upholstery, and premium sound systems.
In addition to the commemorative models, the U.K. has reintroduced the two-door Land Cruiser. Riding on Prado underpinnings, this 30,395 GBP ($49,200) model only comes with a manual transmission, channeling the spirit of the BJ forefather.