I was searching an old hard drive at the weekend for something entirely unconnected and found these shots of Landcruisers that had passed through my hands in a previous career in the motor industry here in the UK. I was always a sucker for an unusual Landcruiser and in the UK, they seemed to appear every now and again. The odd ones would always stand out and sometimes were being sold for little money. Having international connections, it became irresistible to pass up the chance to buy an oddball Landcruiser, because I always figured I’d find a home for it, somewhere in the world. To some readers, these will be a totally normal spec for where they are in the world, but in the UK, they were pretty rare, so here’s a quick run down on just some of the Landcruisers I’ve owned over the years.
75 Series Troopie
Brought back to the UK by a construction company who’d been bitten by the bug – all the other site vehicles had died, this Australian spec Troopie just kept trucking and they didn’t have the heart to leave it behind. Sadly, it couldn’t be registered in the UK as nothing remotely similar had ever been type approved. We tried too and failed and eventually, it was sold for export. A shame as it would have looked super cool on British roads. Memorable things for me were the simply huge ground clearance, the simplicity of the design, the sheer load carrying capacity – I could almost stand up in it and I’m over six feet tall – and the all vinyl interior which meant that the inside could be valeted with a steam cleaner if required…
Prado 90 Series.
This one was left hand drive, brought back to the UK from Kazakhstan by a British oil industry worker who’s wife loved it when they were based there. It was what I believe was Toyota’s equivalent of Land Rover’s ‘Rest Of The World” spec. This means that it was designed for the most basic of countries with no dealer network and variable fuel quality. In fact, it was set up to run on pretty much any fuel you put in it, it could probably be serviced with a single adjustable spanner and a large hammer and didn’t need a dealership ECU checker.
It certainly seemed that way, as it was a 2.7 litre four cylinder petrol, so performance was, shall we say, leisurely. Despite being a 1999 model year, there was no fuel injection, it had a carb…. Other notable things were dual air conditioning, twin fuel tanks giving massive range, no airbags and very unusually, not permanent four wheel drive. In fact, it had manually locking front hubs. From memory, last time I saw it, it was headed for Spain.
Wish I still had this one, too. I bought it from someone who’d bought it on a whim as a bit of weekend fun. He decided to go off roading and foubd that the Landcruiser had considerably more ability that the driver. The upshot was that he got it stuck and filled the floor with mud, then lost interest. I took out all of the carpets and gave them a thorough clean and it came up good as new. He’d never been wading in it, so we didn’t need to worry about engine damage. I hope it’s still happily trucking away somewhere.
I loved this one, I must have been nuts to buy it. Middle eastern spec, with a 3F carb engine that did very little to the gallon, it was left hand drive, had roof panels and doors that were removable and let drafts through like you wouldn’t believe. The heater didn’t work. I bought it in central London and by the time I’d reached the A1, I’d stopped to buy three fleece tops to wear. Quite amazingly, due to the power of the internet, I sold it to a refrigeration engineer in Cameroun who absolutely loved it.
Austalian 80 Series
Probably my favourite and wish I could find it today. This 4.5 litre, 24 valve petrol 80 Series was similar at fist glance to the UK spec, but it wasn’t. It had steel wheels, not alloys, no big deal to change, but also had a full eight seat layout and cloth seats, not leather, which was my preference for cold mornings. The four headlight front end looked really cool, compared to the single units in the UK vehicles and gave better main beam performance. Once again, the intended environment showed in the spec, with no sunroof, but very powerful dual air conditioning and huge twin fuel tanks and like the Prado above, no airbags. The alloy Roo Bar was dull when I got it, but an afternoon with metal polish soon sorted that. The petrol engine and manual gearbox gave excellent performance and the car had been looked after so well, it still smelled new inside.
Our OwnFJ62 Project
You can read more details on our own Landcruiser and the project to restore here here. Imported into the UK from South Africa she has suffered in the British climate. I refuse to let her die and work is now underway to get her back up and running once again. Can you help? If so, get in touch, it would be good to hear from you.
There have been others but the one thing this rare Landcruiser dealing period taught me was that there are many, many versions of the Landcruiser in the world and that what looks just like your own country spec at a glance is in fact, radically different under the skin. And regardless of the leather, air suspension and gadgets of your own model, there’s a bare bones, hard working utility version of it out there somewhere, begging for an oil change, but meanwhile just getting on with it…