Ah, the old Land Cruiser. Talk about a legend. Of all the first-generation 4x4s, this is one of the most iconic (alongside the Jeep and the Land Rover, obviously). But now that these have become collector’s items, the temptation to over-restore them is rampant. Case in point with this one.
I’m all for a lovely two-tone paint job and chromed hubcaps in general. That’s why I read and write on this site, after all. But like everything else, there’s a time and a place. And I’m not sure that a late model FJ40 comes from the right time, or is the correct place, for this debauchery of colour, pretty though it may be.
This is a later model FJ40, as evidenced by its square-ish grille, which debuted in February 1979. Our feature car retains the old-style dashboard, so it’s pre-1981. Fun fact: from 1976 to 1981, the FJ40 was the first car sold in Japan with door-mounted mirrors, well before the law changed in 1983. But the door mirrors proved unpopular, so they went back to the fenders after that. This particular car’s mirrors were moved to the windshield – not how it came out the factory, but a pretty good solution, aesthetically speaking.
Land Cruisers of any sort were never meant to be this clean. It’s borderline suspicious. Surely a rugged all-terrain vehicle like this one – with all that gear in front, too – would be happiest frolicking about the Himalayas or wandering about the Gobi desert rather than sharing the pavement with kei trucks and taxis, without the merest hint of dirt anywhere on its manicured chassis?
This reminds me of certain dog owners, the ones who have tiny little mutts, always super-groomed and accessorized to within an inch of being human (little doggy coat, bow ties here and there, etc.) This type of dog owner is particularly prevalent in Tokyo. You see these poor animals being “walked” in their owner’s arms or strolled in little carts, unable to stretch their little legs.
Peeking inside (on the wrong side, the only one available), the painted ‘60s-style dash is just pure gravy. However, upon closer inspection, I was quite surprised by the blatantly-not-original seats in this Land Cruiser, which appear to have sprouted a whole TV-remote’s worth of buttons.
Don’t get me wrong, these aftermarket thrones looked fine, but also pretty weird. I did a bit of image searching on both the English and Japanese web, but I haven’t found anything that compares to this James Bond-like arrangement. What are all those extra controls for? Rocket launchers? Oil slick? Automatic pilot? Inquiring minds demand to know!
Here’s an extreme close-up. Looks like electric seat controls, for the most part – though with 10 buttons to play with, there may be some hidden features. It looks like there’s a wire connecting these seats to the firewall, probably to provide electric power for all this stuff.
This just makes our FJ40 even more of a pampered city pet, as opposed to the beast of the steppes it was designed to be. The dog reference I made earlier is perhaps inappropriate. This is a feline car, comprehensively pussified and Hello Kittied out, its canines removed and its litter box close by. Sure, it looks like it’s ready to take part in the Camel Trophy, but it clearly has zero intention of doing so.
I’m not really a dog person, so I’m fine with this. And after all, this FJ40 survived four decades of use, so maybe it’s earned its retirement. The only thing that still seemed strange was the spare wheel, which in this photo looks almost comically oversized, although it really isn’t. Just a trick of the camera lens, I guess. You really cannot trust what you see, with this crafty Toyota.