The decision to purchase a Land Cruiser was not an easy one.  Not because I questioned its capability, but because I already had a fairly capable
expedition vehicle and Land Cruisers were not cheap.   

Our expedition 4x4 days began around 2000, when I purchased a 1989 Toyota pick-up 4x4.   I spent the next 7 years modifying it.  Sometimes
redoing modifications over and over again, at great expense trying to find the perfect expedition set up.   Different suspensions, different tires, etc.   
As time went on, the miles racked up on the truck and I began to question if I shouldn’t retire it and start over.   

Although serving us well, the truck had some drawbacks for expedition travel.   It was a single cab truck, that could carry only 1 driver and 1
passenger.  Room in the cab was minimal.   A canopy helped keep gear dry, but not dust free and access was always a pain.   My choice in
suspensions, with a solid front axle conversion and 4” of lift, worked great for extreme off roading, but not necessarily for the hundreds of miles of
paved roads that each trip would entail.   The lack of sway-bars, made handling less than it could have been and 22RE was fairly anemic when
pulling 5300lbs of weight.   Don’t get me wrong.  The truck performed in every way that we asked it too and it only failed us once, and that was
because of a defective aftermarket part that I had installed.

The truck was a fine vehicle, but we wanted more than it could provide.  More room, more comfort, more power, better highway handling, etc.

The 7 years of owning of the truck taught me many lessons and I would put every one of them to use in making our decision on which vehicle to
replace the truck with.   I knew only a Toyota would do and we knew we wanted something that carried more than just 1 passenger.  These
requirements alone, limited us to 3 choices.   A Tacoma double cab, a 4Runner and a Land Cruiser.   

The next requirement was a decent power/weight ratio.  This eliminated all early model 4Runners and Land Cruisers.  Essentially leaving the 2000-
2004 Tacoma Double cab, 1996+ 4Runners and 1994+ Land Cruisers.   

My next requirement was a good off road suspension, comparable to my truck.  With my truck having a solid front and rear axles, this would
seemingly have limited me to the Land Cruiser right off the bat, but I wasn’t ready to eliminate the Tacoma and 4Runner just yet.   

Finally I had mechanical and price limits.   I did not want to spend more than about $10,000 and I wanted a low mileage vehicle.   Preferably less
than 100K miles.  The reason being that I planned to keep this vehicle for a very long time and I wanted it to last.      

Ironicly, it would be this last requirement that would drive me towards the ultimate expedition 4x4.    Land Cruisers were never cheap, costing
upwards of $40-50K during the years I was looking at, but prices in recent years have come way down.  Partly due to the crash of the SUV market
after the recent rise of fuel prices.   The other vehicles I was looking at, were almost all much newer and even though their initial price was almost
half the Land Cruiser, the used values, in most cases, far exceeded the Land Cruiser, simply because of demand.  

Once the decision was made to go with a Land Cruiser 80 series, it was not hard to justify.  The 80 series had a fully enclosed cabin that was huge
compared to the truck.   I could carry up to 7 passengers, although modifications would latter wittle that number down to only 3.   It rode and handled
almost like a car, but had the off road capability that could actually exceed my truck if built properly.    And finally, it had enough power to carry 1500lbs
more weight than my truck at nearly twice the performance.  

In short…it would be our dream rig.   But, now we had to find one.   I spent the better part of two years, off and on, looking for a Land Cruiser.  During
that time, my knowledge was limited regarding Land Cruiser 80s.   I almost settled for an early model with the 3FE engine.    But eventually, I would
learn the benefits of the different versions of the 80.  
Why we retired the truck and decided on a Land Cruiser 80
Why the 80 series.
The Land Cruiser 80 series is a very unique vehicle.    It is the best combination of extreme durability, off roadability and comfort and handling.  
Usually the terms comfortable and good handling do not go hand in  hand with off roadability.   But when Toyota designed the 80 series in 1991, they
had one goal in mind.  To create the most capable SUV ever made.   The vehicle was actually not designed with the upper income buyers in mind.   
The U.S. buyers of the Land Cruiser were actually limited compared to the it's real duty.  It was designed specificly to be used in 3rd world countries,
Africa, Australia and South America, under extremely harsh conditions with little to no maintainence.   U.S. models were dressed up for comfort and
sold to high income people at a premium price, but it's what's underneith the fluff that matters.  

To make this the most capable SUV ever build, Toyota retained solid front and rear axles.  The leaf springs were dropped in favor much better
handling and comfortable coil springs as well as front and rear sway bars that surprisingly continued to articulate very well off road.     The interior
was designed to be more SUV like instead of spartan like the 60 series and a number of creature comforts were added.    Initially, the underpowered
engine from the 60 series was carried over to the first couple of years of the 80 series, but things really began to improve when Toyota introduced the
1FZ-FE 4.5 liter 6 cylinder in 1993 and also included a 1 ton full floating rear axle and rear disc brakes.   A rear  option of front and rear lockers were
also included.   In the end, the Toyota Land Cruiser was one of the most durable, overbuilt SUVs ever produced, but its price tag reflected this as
most models were well over $40,000.   As a result the vast majority of U.S.owners were affluent and very few ever took them off road.   While, the 80
series was targeted at the commercial off road market and militarys overseas, it wasn't until the 21st century that prices came down enough for mere
mortals in the U.S. to be able to afford them, modify them and drive them off road.    Today, their capability and especially their incredible reliability
and longevity is legendary around the world and they are among the most coveted vehicles for serious long distance off road expeditions.  
That's why we choose one for ourselves.
A Land Cruiser 60 series model,
produced from 1980 through 1990
An early Land Cruiser 80 series, 1991
or 1992 model.
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Last Update:  May 27, 2007
Welcome to my Expedition Land Cruiser "Why the Land Cruiser" page.

This page is linked from our main Expedition Land Cruiser Page, which is all about our new to us, 1995 Toyota Land Cruiser
FZJ80 and our modifications to make it a capable vehicle for our local expeditions, travels and trips.

The page covers why we chose to purchase a Land Cruiser and the history of how we bought it.   For other sections, see the
below links.

Our Land Cruiser Exterior page.
Our Land Cruiser Interior page.
Our Expedition Land Cruiser Engine page.
Our Expedition
Toyota Land Cruiser
FZJ80
MAINPAGE
Our Expedition
Toyota Land Cruiser
FZJ80
Why the Land Cruiser?
Copyright © 2007 Brian McCamish,  All Rights Reserved

Note about the photos on this site:
Most photos were taken by me.  I usually allow people to use my photos for personal use or websites.  Simply Email me.  
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My search concentrated on ’93 and ’94 models with factory lockers and low miles, but I would settle for a later model and possibly even consider a
lockerless Land Cruiser.   

Unfortunately Land Cruisers are rare.  On average, only about 8000-12000 per year were produced for the entire U.S. market, depending on model
year.  Considering accidents, attrition and available models in my area, much less those actually for sale, it would be slim pickings.   Some markets
had more Land Cruisers than others.   But the Pacific Northwest market is fairly limited for some reason.   I suspect it has to do with the economy at
the time these rigs were for sale.   In this area, the number of buyers for $40-50K rigs was limited compared to places like California and the East
Coast.  

But then we found the needle in the haystack.   A friend of mine, pointed out a Land Cruiser that was for sale on a local 4x4 club website.    After being
advertised there for a few days and no takers, it went on Craigslist and was there for less than one day, when I called on it.

It was a 1995 Land Cruiser, 2nd owner, all local history and appeared to be in good condition.  The bad news, was no lockers.  The good news was
it has only 85,000 miles on it.   I was willing to compromise.   Land Cruisers with that low of mileage are rare as hen’s teeth and lockers can be
added later.  

To make a long story short, I met the owner, looked it over and after much anxiety, made an offer that was slightly over my planned budget, but under
his asking price.   They accepted and within a few days, I drove our new Land Cruiser home.   I would later find out that the previous owner was
inundated with phone calls from the Craigslist ads, some making offers, sight unseen.   Whether they were legit or not, it’s hard to say, but a Land
Cruiser with 85K miles is definitely going to draw attention and I have little doubt that had I not purchased it, it would have been sold very quickly.  
How we found our Land Cruiser
Absolutely!  

Unlike my truck, where I constantly battled with lack of handling and lack power and lack of comfort on the highway in exchange for reliability and off
road capability, the Land Cruiser seems to be able to handle both equally well.

I've since added some suspension and tire modifications, which include an ARB OME 2.5" lift and 33" Goodyear MTR tires.   Off road performance is
spectacular and in some area, actually outshines my seriously built truck.    For example, the massive torque of the 1FZ engine combined with the
gear reduction of the auto tranny, allow the Land Cruiser to climb like a tractor, even with loaded to over 6000lbs.

On the highway, the engine provided plenty of power for high speed cruising and passing.   Land Cruiser owners often complain of the lack of power
of the 80 series.  Perhaps compared to modern V-8 SUVs there might be some truth, but after coming from a very underpowered vehicle, the 212 h.p.
and 275ft/lbs of torque of the 1FZ is more than adequate for us.

Highway handling is the biggest surprise of all.    It wasn't as much of a surprise when it was stock, as one would figure that Toyota would tune the
suspension on its $50,000 flagship to be road friendly...especially considering that most of its buyers would never even see a dirt road.   However,
once the lift was added, I expected a decrease in highway handling.   Much to my surprise, it actually improved.  Front and rear sway bars were left in
place and don't affect off road handling much at all.   

The Land Cruiser only has two faults that I've found.   One is its size.   At first, the size seemed overwhelming, but one quickly gets used to it and now
I prefer to drive it, even around town, to all my other small vehicles.   It's just a joy to drive.    Easy of handling and extremely good visibility and seating
position go a long way.     However, its other drawback is not as easy to get used too.  That being fuel economy.  Or lack thereof.

Unfortunately, the Land Cruiser 80 series gets very bad gas mileage.    EPA rated at 12/15, those figured aren't lies.   Except that 15 mpg on the
highway is not always achievable.  It can actually get worse.  Sometimes, much worse.     Some heavily loaded Land Cruisers, traveling at high
speed can see MPG in the single digits.  

In this age of record gas prices, it would seem that this was a poor choice.   However, the Land Cruiser is not my daily driver, so decrease in mileage
does not affect me as much as it might others.     As a recreation vehicle that is only driven on weekends or on trips, I can more easily absorb the
increase cost of fuel.  Also, while the gas mileage of the truck was higher, I was forced to use premium fuel due to detonation.    With the Land
Cruiser, I can use the much cheaper fuel, making the cost of operation about the same as the prior truck.
Was it the right choice?