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The Toyota Land Cruiser is a series of four-wheel drive vehicles produced by the Japanese car maker Toyota. Development of the first generation of the Land Cruiser began in 1951 as Toyota's version of a Jeep-like vehicle and production started in 1954. The Land Cruiser has been produced in convertible, hardtop, station wagon, and utility truck versions, and it is currently Toyota's flagship four wheel drive vehicle.

The AK Prototype

Back in 1941 the Imperial Japanese Army occupied the Philippines, where they managed to obtain a Bantam BRC-40 Jeep which they promptly brought back to Japan. The Japanese military authorities commanded Toyota to make a similar vehicle. The prototype was called the Model AK and was formally adopted by The Japanese Imperial Army.

The AK10 used the 2259 cc, 4-cylinder Type C engine from the Toyota Model AE motor car with a three-speed manual transmission and two-speed transfer gearbox connected to it. There is no mechanical relationship between the AK10 and the more numerous postwar Toyota "Jeep" BJ. Most of the AK10's were not actively used (unlike the U.S. Jeep) and there are almost no photographs of it in the battlefield.

Toyota AK 10

BJ and FJ Production 1951-1955

In 1950, the Korean War created demand for a new military light utility vehicle. The United States government ordered 100 vehicles with the new Willys specs and Toyota was asked to build them. The Toyota "Jeep" BJ prototype was developed in January 1951. This came from the demand for military-type utility vehicles, much like the British Land-Rover Series I that appeared in 1948. The Jeep BJ was larger than the original U.S. Jeep and more powerful thanks to its Type B 3.4-litre, six-cylinder OHV petrol engine which generated 85 hp (63 kW) at 3600 rpm and 215 N·m (159 lb/ft) torque at 1600 rpm. It had a part-time four-wheel drive system like the Jeep. Unlike the Jeep, however, the Jeep BJ had no low-range transfer case.

Toyota BJ

Toyota 'Jeep' BJ

In July 1951, Toyota's test driver Ichiro Taira drove the second generation of the Jeep BJ prototype up to the sixth stage of Mount Fuji, the first vehicle to climb that high. The test was overseen by the National Police Agency (NPA). Impressed by this feat, the NPA quickly placed an order for 289 of these offroad vehicles, making the Jeep BJ their official patrol car. In 1953, regular production of the "Toyota Jeep BJ" began at Toyota Honsya Plant (Rolling chassis assembly), and body assembly and painting was done at Arakawa Bankin Kogyo KK, later known as ARACO.

In 1954 the name "Land Cruiser" was created by the technical director Hanji Umehara, to place the vehicle as a direct competitor to the British Land-Rover vehicles. The same year the 125 hp, 3.9-litre Type F petrol engine was added as an option for the fire-engine chassis. Model options were:

BJ-T (Touring),

BJ-R (Radio),

BJ-J (Cowl-chassis for a fire-engine),

FJ-J (Cowl-chassis for a fire-engine, Type F engine).

20 Series Land Cruiser Production 1955-1960
In 1955, the second generation, 20 Series was introduced. It was designed to have more civilian appeal than the BJ for export reasons. It also had more stylish bodywork and a better ride thanks to longer four-plate leaf springs which had been adapted from the Toyota Light Truck. It had the more powerful 3.9-litre six-cylinder Type F petrol engine. The interior of the vehicles were made more comfortable by moving the engine 120 mm (4.7 in) forward. The 20 Series still had no low range, but it did have synchromesh on the third and fourth gears.

In 1957, A four door station wagon version was added to the range as the model FJ35V with a longer 2,650 mm (104.3 in) wheelbase. Exporting of FJ25/28 cab-chassis to Australia began.  In 1958, FJ25 production started in Brazil, being the first Toyota vehicle built outside of Japan. That year the Land Cruiser was introduced to the U.S. It was also the year that the first hard-top version was introduced.

In 1960 the 20 Series was upgraded to the now classic 40 Series. The Toyota FJ40 is the model designation for a Toyota Land Cruiser 40 series made from 1960 until 1984. Most 40 series Land Cruisers were built as two-door vehicles with approximately the same dimensions as a Jeep CJ. The model was also available under the BJ40 / 41 / 42 ( short wheelbase ), BJ43 / 44 / 46 ( middle wheelbase ) or HJ45 / 47 ( long wheelbase ) designation where it had a diesel engine.

Toyota made many production changes by buying new steel presses. Mechanically, the FJ40 was given a new 125 hp, 3.9 litre Type F engine and the Land Cruiser finally received low-range gearing capability. The Brazilian model was rebadged the Bandeirante and received a Mercedes-Benz built diesel engine generating 78 hp. (later replaced by Toyota 14B inline 4 direct injection diesel engine ).

1965 - Global production exceeded 50,000 vehicles.
The Land Cruiser was the best selling Toyota in the United States.

1967 - Production of the FJ55 began. The FJ55 was a 4-door station wagon version based on the FJ40's drive-train, replacing the 4-Door FJ45V. It was colloquially known as the "Moose". It has also been referred to as a pig or an iron pig. The FJ55 had a longer wheelbase 2710 mm and was designed to be sold in North America and Australia.

1968 - The 100,000th Land Cruiser was sold worldwide.

1972 - The 200,000th Land Cruiser was sold worldwide.

1973 - The 300,000th Land Cruiser was sold worldwide.

1974 - A four-cylinder 3.0-litre Type B diesel was offered. The introduction of this engine boosted sales in Japan by putting the Land Cruiser in a lower tax compact freight-car category than its 3.9-litre petrol version. Note: the new B diesel engine was different from the B petrol engine used in the original BJ from the 1950s.

1975 - The 3.9-litre petrol engine was replaced by a larger, more powerful 4.2-litre 2F unit.
The FJ55 received front disc brakes.

1976 - United States-version FJ40 Land Cruisers received front disc brakes like the FJ55.

1977 - The Irish Army took delivery of the first of 77 FJ45 Land Cruisers. Although fast, reliable and with good off-road performance the type tended to rust excessively in the wet Irish climate. A few which did not succumb to the effects of weather were repainted in gloss olive green and survive as ceremonial gun tractors at military funerals.

1978 - The first BJ / FJ40 and FJ55 models were officially sold in West Germany with both diesel (BJ40) and petrol engines (FJ40 /55).

1979 - United States-version FJ40s were updated this year with a new wider, square bezel surrounding the headlights. Power steering and cooler were offered in FJ40s for the first time.
The diesel engine was improved, evolving into the 3.2-litre 2B only in Japan.
The 3.6-litre H diesel engine was optional in some markets.

1980 - The 60 series was introduced. While still retaining the rugged off-road characteristics of previous Land Cruisers, the 60 was designed to better compete in the emerging sport utility vehicle (SUV) market. The 60 was given a variety of comforts like air conditioning, a rear heater and an upgraded interior. The FJ60's "2F" petrol engine was left unchanged from the "40" series while six-cylinder 4.0 litre 2H and four-cylinder 3.4 litre 3B diesel engines were added to the product line.

1981 - Land Cruiser sales surpassed 1 million and a high-roof version was introduced. The 60 was introduced to South Africa when a stock Land Cruiser competed in the Toyota 1000km Desert Race in the punishing wilds of Botswana.

1984 - This was the final year for the 40 (production ended in 1979). Specialist suppliers of aftermarket parts and restorers who return old FJ40s to better-than-new condition replace Toyota dealers as the main source of Land Cruiser expertise. The LandCruiser 70 Series was introduced.

1985 - The Direct-injection 12H-T and 13B-T turbodiesel engine were introduced.

1988 - The petrol engine was upgraded to a 4.0-litre 3F-E EFI engine. The FJ62G VX-Series was introduced allowing the Land Cruiser to be sold in Japan as a passenger vehicle.

1990 - The 80 series station wagon was introduced, replacing the 60. The 80 was initially offered with a choice of three engines; the 3F-E six-cylinder petrol engine, a six-cylinder the 1 Hz diesel and 1HD-T direct injection turbodiesel. All 80s sold in North America and Europe now have a full-time four-wheel drive system. In Japan, Africa and Australia, a part-time system was still available. 80s produced between 1990 and 1991 had an open centre differential which was lockable in 4HI and automatically locked in 4LO.

1992 - vehicles with anti-lock brakes had a viscous coupling that sent a maximum of 30% torque to the non-slipping axle. The differential was lockable in 4HI and automatically locked in 4LO.

The Sixth and Seventh generations of the Land Cruiser are still being produced and sold in African and Latin American regions, Venezuela is one of them, the Sixth generation is sold under the nickname of "Machito" and the Seventh being nicknamed "Autana". In Colombia the 80 series is named "Burbuja". The 70 series (6th generation) is also still marketed in Australia as 4-door medium wheelbase, 2-door 'Troop Carrier' and 2-door utility.

1993 - An advanced 24-valve, 4.5-litre six-cylinder petrol engine, 1FZ-FE was introduced to the 80 series. Larger brakes were added and the total wheelbase was made slightly longer.Front and rear axle lockers (code k294) appeared as an option.

1994 - A limited edition 80 series Landcruiser Blue Marlin was introduced into the Australian Market and only 500 where made, limited to Australia.They have 4.5L petrol motors. The car is Blue from the Blue Marlin fish and they have the Blue Marlin logo on the back door.They were standard GLX models but as this was the Blue Marlin it had more features such as altimeters, power windows, leather trim, manual or automatic, chrome handles and sidesteps and a limited Bull Bar which is very hard to find these days.

1995 - Driver and passenger airbags were introduced as were adjustable shoulder-belt anchors and an anti-lock braking system. The "T O Y O T A" badge was replaced with the modern Toyota logo (which is sometimes described as a "bean with a hat" aka "the sombrero").

1996 - In the Dakar Rally, a pair of Land Cruisers finished first and second in the unmodified production class. All American and British 80s adopted anti-lock brakes and airbags as standard equipment. Alongside the 70 and 80, the 90 Prado was added. The 90 Prado was made by Tahara Plant, available as a 3-door short wheelbase and 5-door long wheelbase version with either the 5VZ-FE petrol engine (24-valve six-cylinder, 3.4-litre), the 3RZ-FS (four-cylinder 2.7-litre) petrol engine or the 1KZ-TE turbodiesel (four-cylinder 3.0-litre) and 5L diesel(four-cylinder 3.0-litre). The Land Cruiser was withdrawn from Canada this year and was replaced by the Lexus LX.

1997- A limited run of Land Cruiser 80s was built specifically for collectors and therefore called the Land Cruiser Collector's Edition. The Collectors Edition sported Collectors Edition badging, "Collector's Edition" embroidered floor mats, automatic climate control, wheels with the "D" windows painted dark grey and special grey sidelines and grilles. The Collectors Edition was only available for the 1997 model year and the package was added to many of the available body colors.

1997- An unknown number of FZJ-80 Land Cruisers were sold in the United States as "40th Anniversary Limited Edition" models. They were available in Antique Sage Pearl (Often referred to as Riverrock, Pewter or Grey) and Emerald Green. The 40th Anniversary models included apron badging, a numeralized badge on the centre console, "40th Anniversary Limited Edition" embroidered floor mats, automatic climate control, two-tone tan and brown leather interiors and wheels with the "D" windows painted dark grey. It is incorrect to claim that all 40th Anniversary trucks came with every available option. While many did include the highly desired electric front and rear locking differentials, keyless entry, port-installed roof racks and running boards, there are some examples that did not have many of these extras.

The Toyota Land Cruiser was redesigned for 2008. Known as the 200 Series, it will share the 2008 Lexus LX's platform and overall design. Though many time-honored Land Cruiser supporters have welcomed the re-invigoration of the mechanical aspects of the vehicle, the 200 Series has encountered criticism due to its controversial body restyling, with some claiming that Toyota has 'overdeveloped' the classic trademarked Land Cruiser identity in its efforts to fit the Land Cruiser in to modern 21st century motoring. Toyota presented its completely redesigned Land Cruiser in October at the 2007 Australian International Motor Show in Sydney. The vehicle entered production in September and was available for sale in November 2007. Although the new Land Cruiser was presented at its first motor show in Sydney, it was already on sale in Japan, launched there in September 2007. It also became available in Venezuela for sale early in November under the local nickname of "Roraima" (Taken from Monte Roraima in Venezuela). 

The 200 Series offered numerous features and upgrades over its predecessor not limited to the cosmetic changes made to the body and interior, including:

* Smart Entry - A sensor is triggered when the remote is brought near the vehicle, allowing the user to simply touch the door handle to open it.
* Smart Start - Start/Stop push button for ignition; a key is not required.
* 4-zone climate control on Sahara models, with outlet vents increased from 18 to 28
* 10 airbags (VX & Sahara)
* Stronger and lighter frame

Various driver assist technologies not offered on previous models including:

* CRAWL; a four-wheel drive control system that operates like an off-road cruise control, automatically maintaining a low uniform vehicle speed.
* Downhill Assist Control
* A newly developed ABS system, the multi-terrain anti-lock braking system (ABS)
* Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS)

Engine and transmission improvements include:

* An all new optional V8 Diesel engine, the 1VD-FTV (also used in the 70 Series).
* Automatic transmission standard across all levels of trim of the 200 Series, 5-speed manual transmission is offered only with the 4.0L GX models (in selected regions). A five-speed automatic gearbox is assigned to the 4.7L petrol models, while the 4.5L diesel models receive a six-speed automatic.

Vehicle pictures, further info and links wanted