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How To Buy a (Good) Toyota Land Cruiser

Posted in Project Vehicles on April 1, 2010 Comment (0)
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The Toyota Land Cruiser is well known in the realm of iconic vehicles. Over its 40-plus years of production there have been many models and options. We sat down with the experts at Man-A-Fre, the oldest Toyota Land Cruiser parts distributor in the world, and went through the many Cruisers available on the used market. We came up with a simple buyer's guide of what to look for from each model, which ones to steer clear of, and some simple upgrades for each.

FJ-40
First imported to the U.S. in the mid '60s, the open-topped, two-door, short 90-inch-wheelbase FJ-40 Land Cruiser came with an inline-six engine very similar to the GM 250ci. The original engine was the 3.9L F model with a lowly 125 hp that lasted until 1975, when the 2F was introduced. Parts for the F engine are hard to find, whereas 2F parts are readily available.

Transmissions offered were a three-speed manual (some early models with column shift) and then a four-speed manual from 1974 until 1983. Though only two transmissions were offered in the U.S. variant, the FJ40 had four transfer cases over its lifetime, all with cast-aluminum cases. The pre-'73 and post-'80 cases have the lowest low ranges of 2.31:1 or 2.27:1, while the '73-'75 and '75-'80 cases are not as desirable.

All FJ40s had solid axles with both the front and rear differentials offset to the passenger side. These axles are strong enough for moderate four-wheeling and hold up well to 33-inch-tall tires. The axles can also be built to run up to 37-inch rubber.

When inspecting any Cruiser, notice the large balls at the ends of the closed-knuckle front axle. If these are dry or dripping there is a sealing problem, but if they have a thin coat of grease everything is fine.

Early FJ40s come with drum brakes at each corner as well as manual steering, but both can be easily remedied with disc brake and Saginaw steering conversion kits.

Stock axle ratios were 4.10:1 until 1980, when they were changed to 3.70:1. During this time the fuel tank was moved under the tub from under the passenger seat. In 1975 the front axle was changed to disc brakes.

The FJ40 was also offered with a hardtop option that has metal sides and a fiberglass top panel, and replacement parts are available, but the tops are different from 1974 and earlier with barn doors instead of a tailgate.

FJ60 & FJ62
Around July or August 1980 Toyota began offering the four-door FJ60 Land Cruiser. This 107 1/2-inch-wheelbase station wagon was ripe for the start of the SUV craze and is a perfect basis for expedition/camping buildups. The FJ60 has a carbureted 2F 4.2L inline-six engine, four-speed manual transmission, a two-speed transfer case, leaf spring suspension, and solid axles with front disc brakes standard.

Problem areas are body rust, complicated emissions (which also hinder power and mileage), and the lack of an overdrive. A great upgrade is an imported Toyota H55 five-speed manual with a lower 4.84:1 First gear and an overdrive Fifth. Imported Toyota diesel engines make great improvements in mileage and power in an FJ60. Although a big job to swap, they are mostly a bolt-in conversion.

From 1988 to 1990 Toyota replaced the round-headlight FJ60 with the square-headlight FJ62 wagon. The FJ62 received a welcome similar to the Jeep YJ Wrangler. Many Toyota enthusiasts appreciated the new fuel-injected 3F 4.0L inline-six engine and electric windows and door locks and despised the square headlights. The FJ62 engine surpassed the FJ60 for power (155 hp, up from 135) and used the same suspension and solid axles, but was only available with an automatic transmission and resulted in still dismal acceleration numbers. Also, where the FJ60 had 3.70 axle ratios the FJ62 returned to 4.10s. The transfer case was the same as the FJ60, but was now engaged with a high/low lever and a vacuum-actuated four-wheel drive button on the dash.

Diesel and manual transmission conversions for the FJ62 are available from Toyota Land Cruiser suppliers like Man-A-Fre, as are many bumpers, roof racks, suspensions, and seating and storage upgrades for the 60 or 62. Though not the most powerful trucks, these Land Cruisers are strong and reliable and can run upwards of 300,000 miles with proper maintenance.

FJ80 & FZJ80
From 1990 until 1992 Toyota offered its newly redesigned FJ80 Land Cruiser. The rest of the world was able to order many options of this truck, while the U.S. had to settle on luxury-only units. The 3F engine was carried over from the FJ62 along with an automatic transmission-only option. The transfer case was now fulltime four-wheel drive, and the truck was suspended on a coil-sprung suspension with a longer, 112-inch wheelbase and stronger axles. Unfortunately the FJ80 also gained weight over the FJ62 (roughly 4,600-pound curb weight), thus acceleration and mileage did not improve.

After just two years Toyota upgraded to the FZJ80, a truck nearly identical to the FJ80 but with a much better engine, the 1FZ 4.5L inline-six. This engine is a modern powerplant, whereas previous Land Cruiser engines were closer to something found in a tractor (not necessarily a bad thing when off road). The 1FZ uses seven main bearings versus the prior four and has four valves per cylinder, a twin overhead cam, an aluminum head, and nearly 60 hp over its predecessor. The FZJ80 still uses a four-speed automatic and a fulltime transfer case. Another option in the FZJ80 was a selectable front and rear locking differential, and these are worth searching for.

The Man-A-Fre experts recommend steering clear of the FJ80 and waiting out for an FZJ80 due to its much better engine.

Aside from the engine, another major issue with the 80-series Cruisers is the front axle. After 100,000 miles it is important to spend some time and money giving them a full service due to the constant use with the fulltime transfer case.

Like the 60 and 62, all the 80-series Cruisers can be outfitted for off-road use with suspensions, recovery gear, bumpers, roof racks, snorkels, storage drawers, and engine upgrades for more power to make them excellent daily drivers or world-traveling exploration vehicles.

Cruiser Prices We spoke to the crew at eBay Motors (www.motors.ebay.com) and got the average selling price for Toyota Land Cruisers over the past 12 months by model year. These numbers are vague since some years encompass multiple models.

FJ45, FJ55 & 100/200 Series Cruisers
There are at least four other model cruisers we didn't touch on. The FJ45 is a pickup version of the FJ40. It was only imported in the mid '60s and is rare, but as with the 40s of that era many parts are still available from overseas. Aqualu out of Canada also offers complete FJ45 bodies made of aluminum, and custom frames are available in case you want to build your own.

The FJ55 station wagon (photo) was available from 1967 to 1980. Though the running gear is very similar to FJ-40 parts of that era, none of the body or interior parts are easy to come by. Plus, these models seem incredibly susceptible to rust, so a solid-body and -frame FJ55 is better than a good runner.

The 100-series Land Cruiser was offered from 1998 until 2007, and like the FJ80 and FZJ80 it was sold only as a luxury vehicle in the U.S. (foreign countries could purchase a solid-axle/diesel/manual-trans work truck version known as the 105). The 100 came with the same 4.7L iforce V-8 as the Tundra, automatic transmission, and fulltime four-wheel drive. The 100s, along with the current 200s, are still very expensive, and even though the IFS works very well they have not been met with the enthusiasm of the previous solid-axle Cruisers.

The new '08 to current 200-series Land Cruiser is a true off-road technological breakthrough for Toyota with its off-road cruise control, dubbed Crawl Control, and powerful 5.7L iforce V-8. Unfortunately the 100- and 200-series Land Cruisers still command a hefty price tag, though we'll likely see more join their brethren off road eventually.

FJ40
1963 $4,090
1964 $8,250
1965 $5,400
1966 $7,642
1967 $5,901
1968 $6,800
1969 $6,961
1970 $4,572
1971 $6,039
1972 $4,645
1973 $6,627
1974 $4,026
1975 $3,241
1976 $9,595
1977 $7,946
1978 $7,971
1979 $5,325
FJ60 or FJ40
1980 $11,923
1981 $11,043
1982 $10,958
1983 $3,483
FJ60 only
1984 $5,323
1985 $3,890
1986 $3,875
1987 $4,196
FJ62
1988 $3,348
1989 $4,408
1990 $5,603
FJ80
1991 $3,610
1992 $3,646
FZJ80
1993 $3,299
1994 $4,670
1995 $5,445
1996 $6,258
1997 $6,685
100 Series
1998 $8,851
1999 $11,570
2000 $12,682
2001 $13,356
2002 $17,260
2003 $22,200
2004 $22,189
2005 $27,156
2006 $30,212
2007 $35,764
200 Series
2008 $54,629
2009 $64,856
2010 $75,706

Sources

Aqualu
Kelowna, AK
888-765-6714
www.aqualu.com
eBay Motors
hub.motors.ebay.com
Man-A-Fre
Simi Valley, CA 93063
877-626-2373
www.man-a-fre.com

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