It was just after the Second World War when the Toyota Land Cruiser began its life. Post-war Japan was a struggling nation besieged by rising inflation, which prompted the government to implement a strict economic stabilization policy. The austerity measures that resulted brought inflation under control but reduced industrial production; the recession affected the developing automotive industry and created problems among companies, especially when they had to lay off their staff.
Toyota, as a major company, also suffered and production levels dropped. What eventually saved the company was their response to the U.S. Military’s directive to create compact 4×4 trucks and similar vehicles (at that time Japan was a supply base for the United States). Toyota came up with a prototype for a 4×4, inspired by the Jeeps brought in by the U.S. in Japan. The prototype was called the Toyota Jeep, and the combined B-type engine resulted in it being referred to as the BJ. The model was soon adopted as the National Police Agency’s official patrol car. Regular production of the BJ began in 1953; other government agencies also started to order BJ units. It was in 1954 when the vehicle’s name was renamed as the Land Cruiser-it was the start of a series of Toyota’s tough four-wheel drive vehicles that would become the longest-running series in the company’s history.
Since 1955, there have been ten editions (series) of the Toyota Land Cruiser: the 20-30 (1955-1960), 40 (1960-1984), 55 (1967-1980), 60 (1980-1989), 70 (1984-), 80 (1995-2002), 90 (1995-), 100 (1998-), 120 (2002-), and 200 (2008-) Series. These models can be categorized into three types: heavy-duty, wagon, and light-duty. The BJ, 20-30, 40, and 70 model series are considered heavy-duty; the 55, 60, 80, and 100 were station wagon models; and the 90, 120, and some variants of the 70 were for light-duty work.
One of the most common editions of the Land Cruiser in the secondhand market is the Prado line. It is the station wagon model of the series (70, 90, 120, 150) and was manufactured to compete in the market with the popular Mitsubishi Pajero. The Prado first rolled off the production line in 1990, and was available in three- and five-door versions. The second generation was released in 1996, the third in 2002, and the fourth-generation Prado was launched in 2009. This latest generation was a merging of the old Toyota Land Cruiser Prado and the Hilux Surf. The new Prado had a lineup of 2.7-liter, four-cylinder and 4.0-liter V6 engines and added features such as the crawl control system and multi-terrain select system. Seating on the new Prado is versatile and flexible; the second-row seats are able to slide back and forth to adjust leg space, and the rear seats can be stowed and restored automatically by a switch.
If you live in a place where there are plenty of unpaved roads or if your lifestyle involves going on off-road adventures, the Toyota Land Cruiser is hands-down the car to have. It has been trusted by motorists around the world for over fifty years, and it looks like it’s going to stick around for more.