It’s said that if a person wants to get into (and out of) some of the most inhospitable places on planet Earth
, the ticket to success is a Toyota Land Cruiser. Stoutly built and tough as nails, it has once been speculated that, in very remote parts of the world, a Land Cruiser was the first vehicle some people ever saw.
Now, Toyota is celebrating selling ten million of the things. According to the company, cumulative global sales of its Land Cruiser series passed that mark at the beginning of this month. The brand’s longest-selling car, it launched in August 1951 and has been in production - in several updated iterations, of course - for 68 years. Note well: the car’s name was changed to Land Cruiser in 1954. Before that, it was called the Toyota Jeep BJ. Hold your crass jokes, please.
Full-scale exports began a year later in 1955, with fewer than 100 units shipped away. Proving itself on the trails and non-roads of the world, that figure surpassed 10,000 trucks per annum by 1965 and is now sold in about 170 countries.
Land Cruisers of all different generations are used around the world for work that would stymie a lesser vehicle. It provides humanitarian assistance in Africa, plows through mines in Australia, harvests crops in the high plains of Central America.
The so-called “60 Series” Land Cruiser of the 1980s enjoys massive popularity amongst the off-road set, thanks to a bulletproof engine and mountain goat climbing abilities offsetting a somewhat wonky departure angle. Your author, for reasons unknown to him, much prefers the heavier and larger “80 Series” trucks. A 1994 Aussie-market Blue Marlin edition continues to rank high on my personal unicorn list.
Today, the Land Cruiser remains eminently capable, powered by a brawny 5.7L V8 engine making 381 horsepower and 401lb.-ft of torque. Its full-time four-wheel drive system affords drivers the chance to test its 32-degree approach angle and 27.5-inch fording depth. With this thing, you can take the kids to soccer, rescue a wayward hiker, and be home by supper.
While announcing the feat of longevity, Toyota said that, going forward, development of the Land Cruiser will take place “on the premise that it will be used in every corner of the world”. This gives hope to the notion that the current Land Cruiser will not be the last of its kind, or at least the last of its nameplate. While they have indeed sold 10 million of them since 1951, it is also true that an enormous SUV with a near six-figure price tag posts modern sales volumes much lower than the majority of vehicles with which it shares a Toyota showroom.
To this end, Toyota says it intends to “set more rigorous standards” and to continue with the goal of “creating a truly unique car.” Tomorrow’s Land Cruiser might not look like the one we know today but, with that statement, it sure seems as if the nameplate will remain for years to come.