Life is weirder than fiction, and these are the 10 weirdest facts we could dig up about Australia’s longest running 4WD. Did we miss one? Let us know in the comments.
1. Your 76 is a Prado.
Alright, alright, put the pitchforks down, no one is pointing fingers here but facts are facts. The current shape 76, and by extension 79 and 78, were originally launched in 1990 as the J70, a branch off the 80 Series for something more road-orientated. Available with either a 2.4L 4-cylinder turbo-diesel, or 2.4L fuel-injected 4-cylinder petrol, the original Prado was never winning any performance awards, but with a fresh lick of paint it’s still on the market 28 years later, so it can’t be too bad.
2. They’re powered by Corvette motors.
The F in FJ40 refers to the F Series petrol engines. Over time it was revised into the 2F and 3F that lasted all the way to the early 80 Series 'Cruisers. What Toyota don’t want you to know is that the original F engine built in 1955 is
basically a direct copy of Chevy’s ‘Blue-Flame’ 235ci engine that powered the original Corvettes. Toyota’s logic at the time was giving the market something new, but also familiar, and boy did it pay off.
3. J stands for Jeep.
No, Toyota aren’t going to release any official documents outright stating
it. But with enough craft paper and a box of sharp crayons, it’s a pretty logical conclusion. Jeep, short for GP or General Purpose was a generic term during WW2 for any SUV- like vehicle. Post WW2, the U.S. Army asked Toyota to build them a Jeep to use in the Korean
war. Toyota built something that looked and drove like a Jeep, and literally called it the Toyota Jeep. After Willy’s registered the name, the term LandCruiser was born, although it was still a ‘J’ model –, yep, even the VDJ79 you can buy brand new.
4. Toyota built their own Hummer.
Alright while not technically a Hummer, Toyota did have a crack at building their own version. Dubbed the Mega Cruiser, it was built as a military platform riding high on fully independent portal axled suspension with a 4.1L turbo-diesel
under the bonnet. It was available in a range of configurations from literal troop carrier, through to surface-to-air missile platforms. While they were a financial failure, we can’t help but laugh at the thought of a buff Japanese man driving one around Tokyo barking the required “I’ll be back”.
5. They were called Toyoda’s.
While Toyota City is definitely a thing, the Toyota family certainly isn’t. Sakichi Toyoda founded the Toyoda Automatic Loom Works in 1926 building, well, sewing machines basically. In 1937, they spun off a motor works company and went with the name Toyota rather than Toyoda. TIn Japanese the new name required only 8 strokes of the pen (a lucky number in Japan) and just plain sounded better. The Toyoda name lives on through various off shoots of the business so the name occasionally pops up on certain parts on Toyota vehicles.
6. LandCruisers cost as much as a house.
Let’s go back to 1985. Hair was curly, moustaches were glorious, and shorts were both tight and tie dyed. Everyone was scared of aids, but at least you could buy a decent three-bedroom brick family home within cooee of any capital city for around the $50k mark. The problem is, that’s exactly the price a 1985 Sahara LandCruiser would cost you. Sure, they had all the niceties like a tape deck, AC and a velour interior, but $49,974 is a big ask by any stretch of the imagination.
7. You can buy a brand new 1HZ.
Toyota launched their new heavy-duty diesel engine, the 1HZ way back in 1990. It’s a million-kay engine with proper servicing. Apart from that, it’s wholly unremarkable. Except for the fact that nearly 30 years later it’s still being produced and sold around the world in brand new 4WDs, chances are if you’re passing a Toyota Coaster bus in Australia or Zimbabwe it’ll be running the same engine as most 80 Series 'Cruisers.
8. They can drive underwater.
Okay maybe don’t try this with your new 79, but it’s been done before. Way back in 1983 a few Darwin locals got a bit out of control at a weekend BBQ and decided they’d drive a 40 7kms across the Darwin harbour. They rigged it up with 60m long snorkels and set off with 70 divers to make the drive. They made it about halfway across before the starter killed their attempts and they floated it the rest of the way.
9. Toyota didn’t stop building the 40 until 2001.
Brazil liked the 40 Series so much they basically forgot to stop building them. Due to tight import restrictions, the original 40 Series was shipped to Brazil as a kit before being locally assembled. Over time they started producing them themselves, calling the model the Bandeirante. It was put together in a range of configurations including Mercedes engines and even a dual cab option. Eventually emissions laws finally killed it off in 2001, but not before 100,000 of those square-eyed little buggers had been made.
10. They’re basically an Amarok.
The Amarok has copped more than its fair share of flak from Cruiser owners for not being a ‘real 4WD’ – after all, it doesn’t even have low-range. The
only problem is neither did the LandCruiser. Ever wondered why the FJ40 was a success, but the FJ20, and earlier FJ weren’t? The FJ40 was the first model to pick up low-range gearing. Before that you were limited to clutch dumps and three gears of fury.