Toyota Land Cruiser turns 70: Models that made a legend
Entering the 1980s, the Toyota Land Cruiser gave rise to two separate generations that would pave the way forward from a luxury and workhorse perspective.
With its debut, the new Land Cruiser 300 pays tribute to one of the most loved and iconic generations ever made, the 80-series.
AFter only being officially priced in July, the Toyota Land Cruiser 300 already accumulated impressive sales of 214 units in August despite offering only the top-spec petrol engine ZX model. September marks the arrival of not only the diesel powered derivative, but also the much-anticipated flagship GR Sport. As is well known by now, the new 300 represents the first all-new Toyota Land Cruiser in fourteen years and also the first since the 80-series to offer only six-cylinder engines with the sole transmission option being the newly developed ten-speed automatic. To see the specifications of the Toyota Land Cruiser 300,…
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AFter only being officially priced in July, the Toyota Land Cruiser 300 already accumulated impressive sales of 214 units in August despite offering only the top-spec petrol engine ZX model. September marks the arrival of not only the diesel powered derivative, but also the much-anticipated flagship GR Sport.
As is well known by now, the new 300 represents the first all-new Toyota Land Cruiser in fourteen years and also the first since the 80-series to offer only six-cylinder engines with the sole transmission option being the newly developed ten-speed automatic. To see the specifications of the Toyota Land Cruiser 300, click here.
In the second of our three-part tribute to the Toyota Land Cruiser’s 70th anniversary, The Citizen rewinds the clock to two generations often regarded as the definitive models from the last fifty years, the 70-series and 80-series.
Land Cruiser 70-series
Succeeding the 40-series towards the end of 1984, the 70-series officially took over the reins as the workhorse focused Land Cruiser model, a title it has kept for a record 37 years.
Aside from being the oldest generation Land Cruiser in production, it also marked a significant departure in the model’s lineage with the spawning of a so-called light duty two-door known initially as the Land Cruiser II. And from 1990, a five-door called the Land Cruiser Prado.
Giving rise to internal monikers still in use today; the 76 station wagon, the 78 troop carrier, affectionately known as the Troopy, and the 79 pick-up, the LC 70 has become a vital model for Toyota in several key markets. Most notably the Middle East, South Africa and to a large extent, Australia, where sales often reach four figures despite its age and premium pricing.
Like its predecessor, the 70-series debuted as either a soft or hard-top two-door, a two-door bakkie, the mentioned Troop Carrier and from 1990, a five-door station wagon position below the 60-series and in the mould of the 50-series.
A variety of engines, largely carried over from the 60-series featured. These included the F-series 4.0-litre straight-six petrol, the normally aspirated B-series 3.4-litre diesel, the H-series free-breathing 4.0-litre oil-burner and the turbocharged 3.4 B-series unit. Some markets in Europe were also privy to a 3.5-litre five-cylinder diesel made by renowned Italian firm, VM Motori.
By 1990, the engine line-up had been revised to comprise two units that would become not only Land Cruiser staples, but icons in their own right. The normally aspirated 4.2-litre straight-six 1HZ diesel that offered turbocharging in some markets in 2002, and from 1992, the 24-valve 4.5-litre straight-six 1FZ that remained even after an extensive chassis and suspension overhaul in 1999.
Aside from its already proven prowess, the 70-series chalked-up further accolades by being driven to six consecutive titles in the Production Vehicle class of the then South African Off-Road Championship by the late Apie Reyneke between 1994 and 1999.
The next big change came in 2007 with the introduction of the first V8 engine, a single turbo variant of the 4.5-litre unit used in the Land Cruiser 200 that remains on sale today. That year however saw the 4.5-litre petrol being put out to pastures in favour of the 4.0-litre V6 from the Hilux, while the venerable 4.2-litre atmo diesel remained.
Since 2012 though, when a double cab version of the 79 debuted in response to the popularity of aftermarket conversions, especially in South Africa, the 70-series has undergone mainly small revisions. The most prominent being a modern touchscreen infotainment system and steering wheel from the Land Cruiser 200 that same year.
Despite the prominence of the 60-series as the first proper ‘luxury’ Land Cruiser, the 80-series’ debut in late 1989 kicked off a whole new chapter for what would eventually become one of the most popular and loved generations ever made.
The first Land Cruiser to be exported to the United States, where it would later wear a Lexus badge, a feature that continues today, the 80-series added new levels of luxury and features. These included standard air-conditioning, ABS and airbags, a sound system with a CD player, electric mirrors and doors, leather seats, wood applique and even keyless entry.
While retaining the ladder-frame chassis, the 80-series dropped its predecessor’s leaf springs for coil springs all around, with another later innovation being a centre diff-lock and a full-time four-wheel-drive system with low range on upscale models.
A mode that gave rise to long standing Land Cruiser trim level denominators such as GX, VX and VX Limited, the 80-series followed the 70-series in initially being powered by the same F-series 4.0-litre petrol engine, replaced in 1992 by the 4.5-litre 1FZ straight-six.
Making up the bulk of the diesel engines were the normally aspirated 4.2-litre 1HZ and the turbocharged 1HD of the same displacement that produced as much 125 kW.
While the standard transmission remained a five-speed manual, the 80-series officially marked the rise in popularity of the four-speed automatic, which became an electronically controlled in 1992.
Lasting until 1997, one of the shortest in Land Cruiser history, the 80-series has retained a loyal fan base with its impact being carried over not only to the cylinder count of the 300, but also elements of its styling such as the look of the front facia.