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Toyota Land Cruiser History

Posted in Features on August 15, 2016
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Photographers: Toyota

Toyota began developing its BJ model prototype in Japan in 1950. However, it would not be branded Land Cruiser for about four more years. Unlike the Willys Jeep of the era that ran on a four-cylinder engine, Toyota dropped an inline six-cylinder in their design. Early models were ordered by police and forestry departments wanting a vehicle with competent off-road ability.

Land Cruiser, built in Toyota City, Japan, would make it to American shores for the ’58 model year, which was also the first year a hardtop was available. Then Toyota introduced pickup and wagon versions in Japan for the ’61 model year but not for the U.S market. Over the decades there have been many body configurations globally, with some types available only in some world regions. They have been produced in hardtop, convertible, station wagon, and truck versions. With the Cruiser still being offered today, the 4WD icon celebrates 65 years in existence. We'll take a look at the more popular gas-engine models still wheeling in the U.S.

40 Series (1960-1984)
The classic Land Cruiser that people most readily identify with is probably the FJ40 model that was introduced for the ’60 model year. The 40 Series Cruisers were available in several wheelbase lengths and worldwide body variations were many.

Early Cruisers used a Ball & Claw front axle joint until about the ’68 models. Following that, the front solid axle used Birfield joints in the closed knuckles, and both axles used drop-out third-member differential assemblies (9 1/2-inch ring gear) that were offset to the passenger side. Leaf springs were used on all four corners, and the 40 Series started out with drums at each wheel. Beginning with the ’76 vehicles, they were equipped with front disc brakes.

The original powerplant was the 3.9L I-6 F engine that was used from the ’60 through ’74 model years. A larger 4.2L engine, the 2F, was offered starting in for the ’75s. Both engines were carbureted. Although never officially available in the U.S., many 40 Series Land Cruisers (and others) were built with diesel engines for shipment to various world regions.

The 40 Series used a J30 three-speed column-shift manual transmission in the ’60 to ’73 model year trucks and was then upgraded to the H41 four-speed (3.56:1 First-gear) in the ’74s until the remainder of its model life. No auto transmission was ever offered. The gear-drive, aluminum-housing transfer case had a low-range ratio ranging from 1.96:1 to 2.31:1, depending on year.

50 Series (1967-1980)
Toyota began to focus more on a vehicle that could carry more passengers and could cruise more easily on the highway. Thus, the North American–bound FJ55LV was born to replace the FJ45LV wagon model. It had a wheelbase of about 106 inches and a drivetrain derived mostly from the FJ40. The FJ55V was the first time a Toyota truck had been produced with fully enclosed box cross-section welded members.

As with the 40 Series vehicles, the 2F engine replaced the six-cylinder F engine in the ’75s. The FJ55LV also used a J30 three-speed or H41 four-speed manual transmission and two-speed transfer case. As with the 40 Series Cruisers, front disc brakes arrived in about ’76 vehicles. Axle ratios were 4.11:1 or 3.70:1.

60 Series (1980-1990)
The second-generation wagon, the FJ60 (and FJ62), was a four-door 4WD that offered more luxury over the FJ55 models. The FJ60 was produced for the ’81 to ’87 model years, and the FJ62 for the ’88 models on. Wheelbase was 107 1/2 inches with an overall length of 184 inches. Width was just under 71 inches.

It continued the use of leaf springs all around on a ladder frame, with power-assisted front disc and rear drum brakes. The suspension was sprung a bit lighter than previous Cruisers and the new model used a front sway bar.

The FJ60 was offered with the 2F six-cylinder engine and then upgraded on the FJ62 to the 4.0L 3F-E fuel-injected engine for the ’88s. The FJ60 used an H42 four-speed manual, and the FJ62 used a four-speed automatic. An H55 five-speed manual was offered overseas and is a possible upgrade. Transfer case low-range ratio was 2.28:1 or similar, and axle ratio in the 9 1/2-inch solid axles was typically 3.70:1 in the FJ60 and 4.10:1 in the FJ62.

Front hubs were manual units, and the transfer case could be shifted from 2WD to 4WD while moving. For the ’86s, electric transfer case shifting and differential lock replaced the previous manual methods.

80 Series (1991-1997)
Toyota came out with a radically redesigned body style with a more rounded appearance in the FJ80, the third-generation wagon. It remained on a steel full-box-section ladder frame. This larger Land Cruiser, with its 112-inch wheelbase, was immediately very popular with multiple seating configurations. The basic vehicle was also built under the Lexus brand as the LX450.

The suspension changed to a linked design with panhard bars and coil springs. It was originally equipped with the 4.0L 3F-E engine, followed by the superior 24-valve DOHC 4.5L 1FZ-FE engine that was offered starting in the ’93s when the model designation became FZJ80. Transmission was typically the four-speed automatic (0.75:1 overdrive) for this full-time 4WD.

The front solid axle used a reverse rotation 8-inch third member, while the rear axle used a 9 1/2-inch ring gear. Not only did the ’93s have a better engine, but it could be optioned with electric locking differentials front and rear and an automatic locking center differential. The new HF2A version transfer cases came with a 2.49:1 low-range ratio and the axle ratio was 4.11:1. The ’91-’92 models had rear drum brakes and semi-float axles, while many of the newer FZJ80 models had four-wheel discs and full-float rear axles. Anti-lock brakes were an option starting with the ’93s and became standard in the ’95s.

100 Series (1998-2007)
The UZJ100 Land Cruiser (and Lexus LX470) was introduced for ’98 model year with Toyota Division's first-ever V-8 engine, the 4.7L 2UZ-FE. It was yet larger and heavier than the previous generation, with a wheelbase of 112.2 inches. The 100 Series was full-time 4WD with an HF2A transfer case and low-range ratio of 2.49:1. An A343F four-speed automatic transmission (0.75:1 overdrive) was paired with 4.3:1 axle gears. Later on it would change to an A750F five-speed auto (0.72:1 overdrive) was paired with 4.1:1 axle gears.

It was at this point Toyota chose to switch the U.S.-version Land Cruiser over to IFS with torsion bars. The rear suspension was a four-link setup using coil springs. Suspension features included adjustable ride height and multi-stage shock absorber settings. Steering was power rack-and-pinion type compared to the power-assisted recirculating ball steering box of previous generations.

Toyota would add a number of traction and stability controls, and by the ’00 models, Active Traction Control (TRAC), Vehicle Skid Control (VSC), and Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD) were standard equipment. By 2005, Toyota had upsized the standard wheel size to 18 inches.

In ’06 vehicles, the Land Cruiser received minor changes to the exterior and engine. The 4.7L V8 engine became equipped with VVT-i and ETCS-i to produce 275 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque. Adjustable Height Control and Adaptive Variable Suspension were available options, and a Tire Pressure Monitor System was standard.

200 Series (2008-present)
Another new Land Cruiser was introduced for the ’08 model year. The frame was of a new design that was stronger and more rigid. The new body was 2.3 inches longer and 1.2 inches wider than the previous generation. Wheelbase remained at 112.2 inches.

This 200 Series Cruiser (and Lexus LX570) was powered by a new 5.7L DOHC V8 engine (3UR-FE) with direct fuel injection, four valves per cylinder, and a variable-length intake tract to bump output to 381 hp. The V-8 was backed with an AB60F six-speed automatic and a JF2A chain-drive full-time 4WD transfer case with 2.62:1 low-range gearing. A locking Torsen limited-slip locking differential was used in the transfer case. Axle ratio was 3.90:1.

The front suspension consisted of a double-wishbone design with coil springs but was of a stronger design than that on the 100 Series Cruiser. The rear used a four-linked solid axle with coil springs. Steering was via engine-speed-sensing, power-assisted rack-and-pinion unit. Brakes were upgraded with larger rotors, and Toyota added brake override technology as standard equipment on the ’11s.

FJ Cruiser (2006-2014)
Toyota introduced the FJ Cruiser with some look-back cues from the FJ40 models of decades past. It was assembled in Hamura, Japan, on a 105.9-inch wheelbase.

The FJ Cruiser was produced with the 4.0L 1GR-FE V6 engine (single and dual variable valve timing versions) backed by the RA61F six-speed manual (0.80:1 overdrive) or A750F five-speed auto transmission. The manual transmission models were full-time 4WD using the VF4B transfer case with a center Torsen differential with locking mode. Those with an automatic were part-time 4WD with the VF2A transfer case. Both gear boxes had a 2.57:1 low-range ratio.

Front suspension utilized a double-wishbone configuration with coil springs and power-assist rack-and-pinion unit. A four-link design was used with coils for the rear suspension. The front IFS differential was the 8-inch clamshell version, while the rear axle was the Toyota V6 style with 8.125-inch ring gear. Ratio was 3.73:1 with the automatic and 3.91:1 with the manual transmission. Power disc brakes sat at each corner, with ABS, stability, and traction controls similar to the late-model Land Cruiser.

The 40 Series Cruisers included hard- and soft-top models, pickups, and wagons. The FJ40 model sits at 90 inches, with an overall length of about 152 inches and a width just under 66 inches.
Toyota used the 3.9L F engine through the ’74 models, then bumped the six-cylinder displacement with the introduction of the 4.2L 2F engine in ’75 trucks. Typically, all Cruisers bound for the U.S. were gas engine models. Our friends across our northern border would often have access to diesel models, and some have made their way into the States from there.
There was a pickup variation of the 40 Series. The FJ45P came in a short-bed version with 104-inch wheelbase and long-bed version with 116-inch wheelbase.
There was a pickup variation of the 40 Series. The FJ45P came in a short-bed version with 104-inch wheelbase and long-bed version with 116-inch wheelbase.
Toyota targeted the U.S. market with the FJ45LV produced for the ’63-’67 model years. It was a five-door station wagon model meant to run well on the highway and have off-road capability. This model is quite rare in the States and was based on the wheelbase of their short-bed pickup.
Axle ratio on the 40 Series Cruisers was typically 4.10:1, until about the ’79s when it was changed to 3.70:1. Up through ’67s, Toyota used 10-spline (coarse) axleshafts and then converted to 30-spline (fine) shafts in the ’68s. A common strength and brake upgrade is to swap Toyota mini truck knuckles onto a Cruiser housing, combined with 4Runner calipers and FJ60 vented rotors.
The longer wheelbase 40 Series models are relatively rare in the U.S. but this long-wheelbase hardtop model is a classic example. Some early years used a tailgate, but later ambulance doors were used.
As might be expected, the short-wheelbase FJ40 offers prime real estate for building up a proficient trail rig. The factory Birfield-joint axles are reliable for moderate size tires, but when owners opt for a common small-block V-8 swap, beefier domestic axles often come next. GM Saginaw power steering conversions are common and easy to perform.
FJ55LV models overlapped production years of the 40 Series Cruisers in the U.S. The wagons offered a bit more comfort on the road with a 106-inch wheelbase, but retained much of the 40 Series running gear.
During the design of the FJ60, engineers considered changing over to IFS, but in the end, leaf springs were retained. The FJ60 would become the newest Land Cruiser wagon in ’80 vehicles, offering greater interior comfort while retaining solid-axle dependability. Toyota swapped from round to square headlights in the ’88s when the FJ60 became the FJ62.
With a somewhat heavier weight than previous models, the FJ80 was found to be quite stable with excellent articulation for a stock vehicle thanks to the coil spring setup and sway bars now on both ends of the vehicle. It was also introduced with full-time 4WD.
The FJ80 had been a big hit in the market for Toyota. They upped the ante in the ’93s with an improved engine and electric locking differentials from the factory. It was arguably the most capable factory SUV of the day, and Four Wheeler named the FZJ80 Land Cruiser the "Luxury SUV Best Buy" in 1997.
With the introduction of the 100 Series Land Cruisers, Toyota softened the off-road stance and went to IFS with torsion bars. Buyers were demanding a smoother ride and improved highway manners. Four Wheeler chose the Land Cruiser as Four Wheeler of the Year in 2006.
With the new ’03 model, Toyota moved from their traditional six-cylinder engine to a 4.7L fuel-injected V-8. The 2UZ-FE DOHC engine was rated a 230 hp.
Toyota continued to use a double-wishbone IFS on the 200 Series Cruiser. To the previously available stability and traction controls, Toyota would add Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS) to actively vary the chassis roll stiffness under changing conditions. The four-wheel-disc anti-lock brake system was also upgraded to sense terrain type for ABS activation and control.
As expected, 200 Series Land Cruiser interior amenities expanded inside the cockpit. While still highly rated as a world-class off-road vehicle, drivers can now easily expect performance combined with car-like comfort.
The FJ Cruiser was introduced the ’06 model year and was a mix of retro Cruiser and modern styling. Like the Land Cruiser, the FJ Cruiser is a body-on-frame design. It's largely based on the 120 Series Prado platform that was created for markets outside the U.S.

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