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Toyota Land Cruiser Turns 60

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author photo by Autotrader February 2011

The legendary Toyota Land Cruiser is turning 60 this year – and while the current model is very different from the original Land Cruiser of 1951, Toyota will still be honoring the diamond anniversary of its most celebrated SUV.

While Toyota will be marking this anniversary with a special model, it isn’t destined for the United States. But the cult icon’s birthday is certainly an occasion to take a look back through its interesting history after more than five million sales in 188 different countries.

The original Land Cruiser, known as the Toyota “Jeep” BJ, was the first vehicle to successfully climb Mount Fuji, earning it a spot as the patrol car of the Japanese National Police Agency, similar to the American FBI. The “Jeep” BJ was renamed “Land Cruiser” soon after.

Throughout the 1960s the Land Cruiser became more civilized, though it always stayed true to the original model’s jungle-tackling roots, featuring two-speed transfer cases, off-roading suspension, and sturdy body-on-frame designs reminiscent of military Jeeps. At one point prior to the proliferation of Toyota’s car lines in America, the Land Cruiser was the automaker’s most popular U.S. model.

The Land Cruiser began its about-face towards luxury in 1980, with the so-called “60 Series” model. Featuring four doors and creature comforts like air-conditioning and a rear heater, the 60 Series model began to lose some of the gritty, off-road focus for which the Land Cruiser had become known. But it gained a bigger stronghold in the emerging SUV market, with many families buying Land Cruisers as an alternative to station wagons or minivans.

By the “80 Series” model of 1990, the Land Cruiser had become plush, offering leather seats, a sunroof, and, by the mid-1990s, even a CD player – then almost unheard of except on high-end luxury cars. Subsequent redesigns have added an 8-cylinder engine, a Lexus version, and even more luxury – but despite the increasing opulence, Toyota’s ultimate SUV can still tackle just about anything, a nod to its mountain-climbing roots in post-war Japan.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Toyota Land Cruiser Turns 60 - Autotrader