MotorTrend Presents: The Land Cruiser Rally

born is a military vehicle in Japan in the 1950s the Toyota Landcruiser has become an international sensation with a rabid fan base a legacy of dominance in off-road racing and a reputation unlike any other SUV today we’re bringing that history to life on a custom course in Utah’s rugged terrain this is Motor Trend presents the land cruiser rally welcome to the land cruiser rally I’m Townsend Bell and we’re here at the Land Cruiser Heritage Museum in Salt Lake City now this is the home to the most diverse collection of Land Cruisers in the world and it includes really specialized examples like a pickup truck a tow truck a fire truck even a TV production truck version of the Land Cruiser now we’re bringing decades of adventurous spirit back to life with five amazing examples from this collection along with an all-new 2020 Land Cruiser we’re gonna be heading out into the rugged terrain of Utah’s west desert and I’ll be joined by a few guest drivers including Scott Evans journalists for Motor Trend and Greg Miller the founder of this amazing Heritage Museum so the 4×4 Toyota craze started in the late 50s with the twenty series and specifically the FJ 25 model in fact this example is the very first FJ 25 ever sold in America now we’re very lucky to have Greg Miller who’s the founder of this amazing heritage collection of Land Cruisers I got to ask the obvious question where did this fascination start in the first place I think it started with my dad working for Toyota his career began with Toyota back in 1968 and I got bored while he was working and wandered out on the back lot and stumbled into my first fj40 of course I didn’t know it was an SJ 40 at the time but I thought that looks like a cool vehicle so from that early fascination you then went on as I understand it to drive a Land Cruiser on all seven continents give me your top three highlights from that amazing journey driving across the Australian outback driving across the m56 highway in Russia and Siberia was was amazing it was dangerous because there’s so many crazy drivers there I would say Antarctica was also a highlight so this of course is the twenty series where it all started we want to get into the forty series now I know you’ve got a bunch of examples here that are amazing and pristine but I’d like to see this thing in its natural habitat what do you say we get out and do a little off-roading let’s do it this is the 40 series and this vehicle is what really introduced the landcruiser to the American market and had a 23 year production run from 1960 to 1983 and it just has all of that raw visceral appeal that you would expect from a 4×4 from that era I just love some of the throwback elements here the skinny steering wheel kind of hold it like the Bob Barker microphone you can just kind of walk this thing around this particular fj40 happens to be a 1977 and i love all of the analog controls it even has a choke no fuel injection in this baby you got to work the choke a little bit on a cold morning to get it started all the push-pull controls on the dash for fresh air warm Heat headlights 4.2 litre inline-six about 135 horsepower 210 foot-pounds of torque and this motor is just so happy at low revs just kind of lugging its way over the terrain it actually rides through the bumps and the ravines really nice Springs on the seat seam just perfect for what you need to take it in stride so here we are this is the turn off into rattlesnake Canyon oh man I’m smiling already this is gonna be fun but first we’ve got to pull over and go with a little bit of manual intervention to lock those hubs because no Auto locking hubs back in the day here so in order to fully engage four-wheel drive we’ve got to do it with the transmission but we’ve also got to lock those both right and left front hubs so I’m gonna stop right here and get out and lock those babies up all right hubs are locked let’s get that choke speed going for Lolo so there’s a little bit of a riverbed little wash out here that’s awfully tempting you know it’s one thing about this vehicle you just see stuff that looks gnarly and your your natural instinct is let’s send it

and this thing’s happy as can be right down in here just wide enough to fit the FJ big rock here no I’m not gonna back out I’m calling we made it a little bit of rev a little bit of fight muscle and we made it through fj40 gotta love it Scott Evans Johnson kalameet you you to read your stuff for years so it’s good to meet you in the flesh I know you normally cover new cars but man today is all about the throwback you must be loving some of this older stuff this is great right I mean I don’t get to play with these kinds of things very often so this is the fj55 it followed the fj40 but when I look at this thing it instantly says passengers and a little more comfort right it’s a little longer it’s got four doors or is this an SUV you know back when they made this they would have called in a wagon because no one invented the term SUV yet it certainly has a different look but mechanically just as we start : here I mean it’s fj40 underneath through and through mechanically it feels like the same vehicle they basically just stretched it out we got the same engine under here the same 4-speed transmission same axles it’s all the same capability and equipment just in a bigger package this bench seats kind of funny because I’m 6 feet you might be a little shorter and it’s it’s one size right it’s it’s what the driver wants is what the passenger is gonna get it’s one bench seat that just sort of slides right right whoever’s got the short legs and is driving gets to decide so they can use the clutch look I know you’re supposed to love the landcruiser 40 series the best cuz it’s the original it’s the icon and and it is super cool but I just can’t help but love the 55 he ride the iron Pig you know it didn’t get that name because it’s beautiful but I kind of love it because it is different you know for everything from the two-tone paint to the this funky nose but it’s also very conventional right it’s kind of the first SUV we’ve got the hub’s locked manual lockers just like the fj40 we’re in low gear it sounds like and just about to get real steep here real fast and first clients you take no way right but it just begs you to go for it yeah it’s not even trying those wheels aren’t slipping I’m barely on the gas we’re just rolling right up this thing you know this thing’s got good approaching departure angles think we can get up there that we could probably good thing when the guys from the Museum can’t see us right now because I think that might have other ideas about that 8:55 says L yeah bring it on that was impressive you know what I think is remarkable is 1977 how many miles are on this thing a hundred and eighty two thousand miles there is really not a rattle or a shake or a shimmy this thing is solid right the build quality is remarkable yeah and this thing’s been sitting in a museum for years I mean they just pulled it out and got it running and brought it out here there’s no special preparations or anything like that so Scott this was pretty cool but we’ve got a lot more to explore today with landcruiser let’s move on to the next phase the next era that’s gonna be the 60 right the 60 I don’t want to stop driving this guy but so much more to see and do and check out what the 60 s capable of we’ve got about 50 years to cover so let’s get going [Applause] alright Scott we just got out of the 55 series you still had to get out here on the 60 series and lock the hubs but other than that it looks a whole lot different doesn’t it it looks a whole lot different and it’s true not much has changed underneath the skin but if you look around this thing and you see that it’s become a lot more comfortable yeah you see the upholstery I really feel like this is the start of the injection molding revolution just in terms of the dash beneath the skin this is really not much different than the fj40 right just about the same underneath same inline-6 gas engine bacon you know same power same four-speed transmission and low-range gearbox leaf springs it’s really hasn’t changed much I gotta tell you Scott no stranger to challenges you’re taking this thing head-on well that’s a great thing about these little things they’re just made out of iron it’s a big old tough frame and solid axle and leaf springs so they’re really tough to hurt them you definitely get the feeling that my body’s gonna give up before this body is I mean these things are built super tough this is exactly the terrain I

imagined the engineers envisioned when they set out to design this 60 series it’s still basically a military vehicle underneath that they you know put some nicer seats into speaking of creature comfort I mean this really was the the nose up start of the trajectory if you will on very small early luxury touches like power windows power steering power locks those were all introduced here on the 60 series right we take those for granted today but those were you know really fancy items for her Land Cruiser back in these days well I like the way this luxurious trend is going I’m gonna jump in the 80 series and just see how far things went in that direction this is the 80 series and I wanted to drive this bad boy because it’s got serious rally racing credentials winning the dakar rally that insane race across the desert multiple times this is a little bit bigger of course than the fj40 and the 60 series and it’s really the first one where Toyota realized that the American customer would want something where you could take the family and what better way to take the family then across this section we like to call the Python here as we go through these crazy steep firms and what’s neat is it really needs speed kind of like the banks at Daytona to make this thing hang on at 3035 degrees of banking here we go downhill let’s crank in some steering and I love how precise the steering is it really responds well to every input the suspension seems perfectly tuned to the weight of this vehicle and speaking of suspension this was the first Land Cruiser that had coil springs every previous Land Cruiser of course with the leaf springs and it was the last Land Cruiser with a solid front axle which still makes it very popular among off-roaders full-time four-wheel drive with an electronic locking center differential as well you got a look for the little touches here and you talk about electronic innovation I love the power antenna such a cool throwback for me power up to catch KISS FM in LA power down to streamline and help your high speed aerodynamics so with this ad series there was a real debate among the hardcore enthusiasts at the landcruiser lost its soul but I gotta tell you that the more refined and the more innovation that’s introduced on this model it actually just begs me to go faster and faster through this Python so how can you how can you argue against the off-road credentials when it just improves the vehicles performance over these crazy sections right here where you really have to carry speed to hold and it just takes it it takes a pounding I have no doubt in telling you that the 80 series is every bit a Land Cruiser as the earlier models were in fact this might just be my favorite so Greg it’s good to get you out of the museum and into the natural habitat where these Land Cruisers that are happiest and I got it I got to tell you I’ve got a lot of friends with a lot of fancy cars but nobody I know lets us take the prized possessions out into this harsh environment like you do we’re here in the hundred series now and this is really unapologetically a full commitment to luxury and off-road all in one package yeah that’s true with the hundred series it was a big step up in luxury from the 80 series which of course was a big step up in luxury from the 60 series the thing that was so cool for me about the hundred series is it’s the first time we got a v8 in the Land Cruiser it came with a 4.7 fuel-injected gas motor what about the independent front suspension because that was introduced as well do you feel the difference oh yes it’s like on a road like this yeah it’s a great ride even by today’s standards were you resistant at all to the full introduction of luxury and in something like say the hundred series if I’m being truthful with you I was actually pretty happy about the advancement not only in performance but also luxury because that advancement paralleled my aging process and the older I got the more welcome I found these leather seats and a seat Eaters to be and it’ll be neat to see where that goes with future models and cruises it’s like a lot of my motocross friends they just like to say that with age comes a cage they end up racing offroad trucks and things like that while this 100 series really emphasizes the full move to luxury with off-road with the Land Cruiser there is a vehicle that has been produced over the last couple of decades that still holds true to pure utilitarian military type experience and that’s the mega Cruiser

you’ve got one in the museum we’ve got one out here to try out what do you say we go for a little rip in that thing that’d be awesome we’re gonna get to driving very often so this would be a lot of fun well Greg I can feel it right away the mega Cruiser that four-wheel steering is kicking in as we’re winding through these trees it doesn’t get more unique than this in the landcruiser world it does not these mega cruisers are so rare between 1200 and 3000 mega cruisers in the military version in the civilian version they were even more rare that were 149 civilian mega cruisers built like a Humvee four-wheel independent suspension it’s super wide but that four-wheel steering I’m just blown away at how we can navigate through these tight turns yeah especially in a vehicle that’s big and be almost impossible to drive this thing in a meaningful way without that four-wheel articulation rumor has it you can get the entire Utah Jazz in the mega Cruiser if we can get up and over in this this is gonna be impressive come on mega Cruiser yeah whoo that was cool boom got right over this is incredible isn’t it this is terrific not even spin an attire now and we haven’t even taken advantage of the ability to drop psi that’s just at the flick of a switch on this thing let’s go to this fire pit here and just find out what kind of tight circle we can actually spin you know for a guy that does a lot of crawling there’s a lot of anger to those hands I love it so think about where we started today in that fj40 that 1977 beautiful example just how raw that was to where we are today with this 2020 Land Cruiser Heritage Edition you are just surrounded in the full evolution of the Land Cruiser everything from a heated steering wheel heated seats ventilated seats the leather it’s quiet its refined in some ways you’re a little afraid that you might get hazed if you saw an fj40 odor truth be told this still is a beast it still has a lot of that original DNA from the fj40 back in the 60s and the 70s that really introduced not only FJ and Land Cruiser but arguably Toyota to the American market so on the 20/20 heritage there’s some nice little styling cues that set this apart from other Land Cruisers it starts up front with the darkened housings for the headlights you can’t miss those bronze wheels though with the match bronze stitching inside those are lightweight BBS forged wheels and then they’ve deleted the side skirts which can give you a little extra clearance on the side if you were running a narrow trail so I’ve got five settings with crawl speed here and I’ll start off at the slowest which is basically like walking speed or crawling speed and there’s five settings all the way up to what I would call a very very light jog and it’ll hold that speed up hill and down hill making sure you don’t go too slow or too fast all right now the reality is that I’ve made my living the last 20 years going fast we’ve been kind of crawling and and slowly massaging our way over some of this terrain and it’s time to figure out what stated they are suspension feels like so let’s open this baby up here this is kind of like Baja freerunning as we’re gonna rip this Landcruiser across some of these washed out sections and man it just soaks things up really impressive how it takes all of these bumps at speed you’re kind of floating on top trying to fly the front end on the throttle here as we come across and man it just keeps taking it and asks for more that DNA of the landcruiser absolutely found here in the 2020 heritage Edition now we come through the river we’re gonna gun it here let’s get this thing going up on plane you can hear that 5.7 liter growl 381 horsepower and this thing is meant to go throw ring

and then once you’re back on the highway it’s it’s literally like you’re in an LS Lexus sedan I mean this thing is just it exudes luxury it’s quiet its serene so after a rough day out on the trails you can recover get that air-conditioned seat on help yourself cool down and you’re good to go so from the military vehicles of the early 1950s to this beautiful beast that I’m driving right here Land Cruiser has literally dominated the SUV market for more than half a century and ruled its class for generations which I had the privilege of enjoying right here