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The beginnings of the Toyota Lancruiser can be traced back to 1950, when the first BJ prototype was designed. Originally designed to compete with the Willies Overland Jeep as an all purpose off road vehicle, it was marketed to the military and civilians alike. The original concept borrowed heavily from the Willies Jeep in style, but other than that, the Landcruiser has proven to be anything but a copy of the Jeep.In 1951, one of the first Landcruisers built, succeeded in driving to the 6th station on Mt. Fuji, In Japan. Something no other motor vehicle had done up to that time. It was a milestone feat indicative of what would later be known as one of the most off road capable marques in the world. Beginning in 1955, the Landcruiser was powered by a 3.8 liter inline 6 cylinder that made 105 h.p. This motor was strikingly similier to the Chevrolet 225 cid I-6 of the day, although few, if any parts interchanged. However, the motor was familier looking to American buyers and military serviceman who sometimes found themselves driving the little cruisers in Japan and Korea. And this was real advantage for making sales, later, in the United States.Toyota began exporting the new BJ Landcruiser in 1953 to customers that special ordered it. But mass production would not happen until a year later. In the United States, off roading was not was it is today. There was a glutton of war surplus Jeeps all over the world. And the idea of buying a Japanese made product did not have the same context as it does today. Inititally, sales of Landcruisers in the U.S. were slow, but around the world, popularity was increasing dramaticly. In 1955, the first series 25 was produced, introducing the first numerial designation that future Landcruisers would be known by. In 1957, the first mass produced Landcrusier was sold in the United States. A year later Landcruisers were imported into Australia.All very early Landcruisers were powered by a B series gas engine. But some later models, starting in 1955, were powered by a new F series gas engine or a B series diesel engine. BJ, signified the Landcruiser was powered by a diesel engine, while FJ, signified it was powered by gasoline motor. While the diesel engine would power Landcrusiers all over the world through today, the United States would never see a production diesel Landcruiser. Canada, however, did import diesel Landcruisers through the late 1980s.
In 1976, chief Land Cruiser engineer Hiroshi Ohsawa began planning for the next generation of the 50-series Land Cruiser. In order to compete in the US market, something more was needed beyond what the FJ55V had to offer. It had to have a larger body, feel closer to an estate car, include more luxurious touches in the interior, and offer a more comfortable ride.The problem was what to do with the suspension. Mr. Ohsawa considered an independent front suspension, however this idea was rejected in favor of the existing front and rear leaf springs and solid axles of the FJ55V to ensure that the Land Cruiser lived up to its off-road reputation. And thankfully so. Its interesting to note that Toyota was considering IFS as early as the mid 1970s. Of course, a mere 10 years later, IFS would find its way onto the 4Runner/Surf and some trucks and today all but one model of the Land Cruiser uses IFS.
The Landcruiser 75 series replaced the aging 45 series long wheelbase models in 1984. While a more modern design, it retained and improved every off road quality of the prior 40 series. As a result it has become one of the best off road vehicles ever produced.
The Landcruiser 78 and 79 series replaced the 75 series long wheelbase models in 1999. Toyota made several significant, although not very apparent changes, that make this the best Landcruiser, and perhaps best off road vehicle of all time.
The first 4x4 compact Toyota.This model is very similier to the Toyota introduced in North America. It would a few years later before the Hilux and North American pick-up split into two distinquished models. The all new Toyota compact truck was small, effecient and rugged off road. Just what people were looking for.
When Toyota introduced an all new model for 1984, it redesigned both the overseas Hilux and the North American pick-up truck at the same time. Both models were also nearly identical, except for one very notable difference. Toyota introduced an all new double cab design for the overseas foreign Hilux, but never did bring this design into North America. The reasons are unclear, but the 4 door cab was extremely popular overseas. One could only imagine if it would have been just as popular here. There are several possible explainations. One being that the 4 door cab was an optional primarily intended for commercial customers, of which Toyota had almost none in North America. Another very notable difference in this generation was the introduction of IFS on North American models beginning in 1986. The foreign Hilux never did use IFS on this generation. The solid axle was retained through the end of the production run on all models, except the Surf (Japanese model 4Runner). All foreign models of the Hilux Surf did go to the IFS in 1986 just like the North American counterpart. This generation introduced a 5 speed transmission and a 4 speed automatic in some markets. Some markets, such as Australia would never see an optional automatic transmission until the current 2003 model. Engine options for the Hilux continued to include both diesel and petrol for all models, including those sold in North America. However, the diesel was dropped in North American after 1985 and has never returned since. Petrol engines included the Y series and the R series. The Y series made far less power than the R series but was sold in countries such as Japan and Europe, where fuel economy was critical. The diesel engine used was the L series.One of the most surprising facts about this generation is that while it was replaced in most markets in 1989 with an all new body style, South Africa continued production of this generation through 1997. They were produced in South Africa, exclusively for the South African market, although many were sold in other African nations. These trucks retained the same basic frame, body and suspension of the 1984 trucks through 1997, with minor updates. Even some of the old engines, such as the 22R remained in production through 1997. Toyota built the Hiluxs at a South African manufacturing plant, exclusively for the South African market. The reason Toyota never introduced the all new body and interior in South Africa in 1989 was because of the "vehicle content laws" in South Africa at the time. These dictated that a certain percentage of the vehicle must be made in South Africa before it could be sold there. As a result, it was cheaper for Toyota to continue producing the older body style rather than try to introduce an all new body style and all new tooling. It's also interesting to note that Toyota did not use all of the same parts we are familier with on other Toyotas. For example a different type of rear diff made by G-max was used as well as possibly other parts. This G-max diff (see below for pictures) was also used in other import trucks produced in South Africa. Because the axle was produced in South Africa it helped Toyota and other manufactures to comply with the domestic content laws.
These are pictures of 1997 Toyota Hiluxs, but notice the body style? It's the same generation that was abandoned by Toyota over 9 nears earlier in other markets. Toyota of South Africa continued to produce this generation Hilux well past 1988 all the way through 1997 until the current generation Hilux replaced it in 1998. There are several other things of note on these Hiluxes. Note the factory carburated 22R. That's a factory 22R carb engine in a 1997 Toyota! Also notice the rear diff is not the same Toyota diff we all know. Instead it's a G-Max electric locker differential. Toyota continued producing the 1984 body style though 1997 to save money and to prevent having to ship all new tooling into South Africa to build the Hilux. Here's the statement from Toyota as to why they didn't produce the 1989 body style in South Africa. "In 1988 Toyota released the fifth generation Hilux, a model that was not released in South Africa due to high local content investment requirements."
This generation Hilux incorporated an all new body and interior as well as updated engines. This generation is considered by many to be the best all time Hilux and indeed the best Toyota compact truck of all time. It was the last generation to incorporate a solid front axle and combined that with a more modern body and interior and more powerful engines. It was this generation and model that retained the solid front axle through 1997. 12 years after it was discontinued in North America.
The 1989 - 1997 VW Taro (European Hilux)In 1989, Toyota struck an agreement with VW to produce all of it's Toyota pick-ups and sell them in Europe. The deal was a win/win for both parties. VW never had a decent pick-up and Toyota was having a hard time selling Japanese made trucks in Europe. To allow the trucks to be manufactured in Europe would help sales and get by some government restrictions. The trade off was that the trucks would not be badged as Toyotas. Instead they were badged as VWs. But they were were Toyotas in every sense of the name. The trucks were nearly identical to their 1989-1997 Hilux counterpart and as with the Hilux they retained the solid front axle. All of the parts were Toyota designed and many were Toyota made. These VW Taro trucks were sold all over Europe, including the United Kingdom, France and Germany. In 1998 Toyota introduced an all new body style and suspension for the Hilux. It was determined not to continue with the VW production and nameplate because of lagging sales. Today, the European Toyota is once again called the Hilux and produced by Toyota. It is the same 1998-2003 Hilux found in the rest of the world, except North America. But sales still lag. Europe is one of the smallest Hilux markets in the world.
When Toyota elected to update the Toyota Hilux for the 1998 model year, it did much more than that. The '98 through current Hilux body style and interior were all new and so was the front suspension. Actually, the frame and front suspension were not new at all. For the Hilux, Toyota used the same torsion bar IFS frame and suspension used on the older North American Toyotas built from 1986 through 1995. While the Hilux resembles the current North American Toyota Tacoma, it only shares the Tacoma interior and 2.7 liter petrol optional engine. Nothing else on the Tacoma can be found on the Hilux. The reason the Tacoma frame and suspension were not used, is because the Hilux is classed as a 1 ton truck. While many models are only 1/2 ton, the basic frame and suspension must be required to carry up to 1 ton with minor upgrades. The Tacoma (and even the Tundra) does not meet these requirements. The Tacoma was never designed with the intention of 1 ton capacity, but the older IFS frame was. The Tacoma uses an arguably weaker partly boxed frame to save cost and is not as durable off road as the truck it replaced and the current generation Toyota Hilux. But the Tacoma does ride and handle better on the street. The Tacoma is an all around good truck, but the Hilux and older Toyotas are simply more durable and have a much better load capacity.Perhaps to some, the most striking change was the discontinued use of the solid front axle. Favored by many off roaders over the lesser traveling and somewhat weaker IFS suspension, the solid front axle stayed with the Hilux on most models for 12 years longer than it did with the North American market Toyotas. With it's passing in 1997, it's not likely to ever appear on a compact pick-up again. Toyota does still retain the solid front axle on the current Landcruiser 78 series.So why did Toyota drop such an off road capable and proven durable suspension in favor of IFS? The fact is, Toyota was actually losing sales to Isuzu in the commercial truck market during the last years of the prior generation. Despite the superior off road suspension, customers were lured to Isuzu by an all new body, IFS and more powerful engines. But once Toyota introduced the new IFS Hilux in 1998, it regained the lead in the commerical 1 ton truck market and has stayed there ever since.
I searched a litle bit but I don΄t know about any web sides here in iceland that tell the toyota story....not much to add tho... the diesel double cab had a solid front housing till 1992... and we have all the landcruisers above.
Geez, those 4 door 1st gens are gorgeous!! Those 4 door 3rd gens aren't too shabby either!! nice thread there buddy!! Good idea
holy dude. wtf was toyota thinking? and they still make a solid axle cruiser right?notice the marlin sticker on the chile 3rd gen...
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