The Interesting History of the Toyota LandCruiser 70 Series

J. Richards

September 27, 2021

The Toyota LandCruiser is a legend in the car world. The 70 Series, sometimes overshadowed by the 200 Series, makes up a large part of the model’s history.

OnlineLoans takes a look.

LandCruiser quick stats
  • 10% of all LandCruisers call Australia home
  • Current LandCruiser 70 Series (J70) on sales since 1984
  • ‘LandCruiser’ is one of the oldest name badges in the car industry
  • The name first appeared in 1954
  • Some used “LC” models are commanding DOUBLE (or more) their original MSRP
What is the LandCruiser 70 Series?

Part of the LandCruiser family, the 70 Series is Toyota’s rough ‘n’ tumble version of the platform. Think creek beds, camping, remote locations and the Australian Outback, (although most LCs find themselves in the Outback).

The 70 Series “series” comprises a few other 70s numbers.

  • The 78 Series: Troop Carrier
  • The 76 Series: 4-door wagon
  • The 79 Series: Dual or single cab ute

The current 70 Series range comes with a 4.5L V8 turbo diesel engine. 

You typically won’t find the 70 Series LCs washed and neatly trotting city streets.

As owners know, the vehicle is best suited and designed for rural and remote driving. Many examples have custom-built interiors matching their duties. For example, work on mining sites, remote surveying and extreme off-roading / camping.

The LandCruiser goes way back

It all started in World War 2 (sort of) when the Japanese Imperial Army required a vehicle similar to the American Willys Jeep and tasked Toyota with the job.

80 years later, we have the grandchild and many original classics. Although not trundling between army bases as much, the 70 Series LandCruiser still punches through similar terrain.

Here’s what happened along the way.

1941 – The Japanese Imperial Army comes across an American Willys Jeep in the Philippines, likes it and immediately sends it to Toyota to base a similar vehicle on.

1942 – The Model AK is developed for military purposes.

ak lc(The Model AK. Source: toyota-global.com)

1950 – For use in the Korean War, Toyota develops the “Jeep” BJ prototype, a vehicle larger and more powerful than the U.S. Jeep.

1951 – The Japanese police become the first ever customer (outside the military) of the vehicle, using it for police duties. 

1954 – The “Land Cruiser” name enters. 

FJ25

1955 – The second-generation LandCruiser enters the market. Known as the 20 Series, the vehicle has more civilian touches and features in its design. The interior is more comfortable than the previous military-spec versions.

20 series(The 20 Series. Source: fj.co)

1957 – A new 4-door version is launched. This one is imported to Australia, making it the first Japanese vehicle imported to the country.

1957 LC

1959 to 1968 – Various models of the J20 are developed. From 1962, many feature a Mercedes-Benz engine.

1960 – The J40 LandCruiser is released. Known as the 40 Series, the vehicle sees high sales.

40 Series(The 40 Series LandCruiser. Source: revivaler.com)

1965 – The 40 Series becomes Toyota’s best seller in the US.

1967 – The LandCruiser 55 is introduced. A pivotal model as it’s the first ‘SUV’ / station wagon LandCruiser.

LandCruiser 55(The LandCruiser 55)

1968 – 100,000th LC sold worldwide.

1973 – 300,000th LC sold worldwide.

1975 – The 40 Series receives a more powerful 4.2L engine.

1979 – Power steering offered.

1980 – Diesel engine upgraded from 3.2L to 4.0L.

1981 – 1 million LandCruisers sold since launch.

1983 – Final 40 Series vehicles built and sold.

1984 – 70 Series enters the world. Comes in soft and hard-top variants with utes and wagons offered. The Troop Carrier is also introduced with inward-facing rear seats. “Prado” also first appears. Some versions get turbocharged.

1984 70 series(1984 70 Series. Source: classiccardb.com)

1990 – New 5 and 6-cylinder diesel engines offered. 2 millionth LC sold.

1993 – New 6-cylinder petrol engine offered.

1996 – The Prado spins off as its own model.

1996 prado(1996 Prado)

1999 – Major updates launched. These include suspension, wheels (among others). 78 Series and 79 Series also introduced.

2002 – 6-cylinder turbo diesel makes its way to Australia.

2007 – First turbo diesel V8 engines offered. 76 Series also introduced.

2012 – Double cab ute introduced in Australia.

70 series double cab(Source: autoevolution.com)

2014 – 30th anniversary models sold in Japan.

Today – 70 Series still offered new from Toyota.

Why are LandCruisers so popular in Australia?

It’s no secret that the LC is an Aussie favourite – just take a look at the sales figures and prices.

In fact, more LandCruisers are sold in Australia than in any other country. That includes huge markets like the US and China. 10% of all LandCruisers reside in Australia.

In the early 1950s, the LC was used in the ambitious Snowy Mountains Scheme, a series of hydroelectric dams first opened in 1972. Bear in mind, construction began in 1949!

LC in snowy mountains(The Snowy Mountains Scheme: 7 power stations, 16 large dams and 140 miles of tunnels… and a few LandCruisers. Source: japanesenostalgiccar.com)

The LandCruiser proved tough and reliable and got a name for itself here in Australia as a genuine workhorse.

The vehicle was, for a short time, built in Australia and over its long history, some parts / systems have been designed here.

Testing of various models has also taken place in Australia’s tough Outback.

Australians have grown up with the LC, getting exposed to it as a trusted, tried and proven highway and off-road vehicle.

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