|The Beginning..BJ & 25 Series
|The Landcruiser that started it all. The first Landcruisers ever made were the BJ and
later the 25 series. It was the 40 series that made the Landcruiser famous, but it was
the BJ and 25 series that made it all happen.
|Landcruiser History - The Beginning
|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.
|Australian 1958 Toyota FJ25
This is one of the first FJ25s imported into Australia in 1958.
It was later recovered and restored by the local Toyota
dealership in 1973. Note the very similier body style to the
future FJ40 that was debute in 1960.
|An early Japanese FJ25 pick-up
A very rare FJ25 pick-up built from 1955
through 1959, until the 45 series replaced it.
|An early Japanese 35 series wagon
Also very rare, this is actually not the 45 series
wagon as it looks like, but rather one of the
very first Landcruiser wagon vans,, the series
35. Introduced in 1955, it preceeded the 45V
wagon style that appeared in 1960.
|Click HERE for detailed specifications on the 1951-1955
Landcruiser BJ series
|BJ and 25 Series Engines
|The B-type petrol engine used on the very first
Toyota off-road vehicle was actually a Toyota 4-ton
truck engine, which due to post-war shortages, was
based on a GM Chevrolet 6-cylinder engine. The BX
version was installed on civilian vehicles, whilst
military vehicles received the BQ version. Coming
from a truck, this engine had a large piston
displacement and was very heavy: The clutch
assembly alone weighed in at 275 kilos! Both the
cylinder block and head were in cast steel, making it
a really tough engine. Extreme durability was to
become a trait of all following Land Cruiser engines.
|The F-type petrol engine was introduced in 1951
along with the first real Land Cruiser. Based on the
B-type truck engine, this 6-cylinder engine boasts the
longest production history of any Toyota engine. This
3.9-litre engine was first fitted to the Land Cruiser
20-series, and many of these first F-type engines are
still in service today.
|What Toyota has to say about the first Landcruisers from it's European website:
Land Cruiser?s birth could not have been more troubled. Japan was just starting to recover from the chaos of World War II, and its
fragile economy was being kept alive by the U.S. occupation forces. In April 1950 the Toyota Motor Company went through its darkest
days, with a large strike where production dropped to a few hundred units that month.
Fortunately, in January 1951, the tide turned for Toyota when the freshly-formed "Japanese National Police Reserve Forces" asked
Toyota engineers to produce an alternative to the American 4x4 Willys Jeep. The first prototype - the Toyota Jeep BJ - failed to
impress, but its designers did not give up, and made a large number of technical improvements. In July that year, test driver Ichiro
Taira drove a BJ up to checkpoint 6 on Mount Fuji, suitably impressing the potential customers. In 1953, after two years of planning
and negotiations, the first 298 Toyota Jeep BJs were produced for the Japanese National Police Reserve Forces and proved technical ly
superior to the Willys Jeep. Soon government forestry and utility agencies started to take interest in Toyota?s tough new off-road
vehicle. In 1954 the Toyota Jeep BJ was renamed "Land Cruiser" after the Willys Company claimed their trademark had been
violated. A legend was finally born!
When the forerunner of the Toyota Land Cruiser first appeared in 1951, no-one could have imagined that they were witnessing the
beginning of tradition that would span more than half a century.
In July of that year, test driver Ichiro Taira ended his test of the Toyota BJ with a flourish. Inspired by the Samurai Heikuro Magaki
who climbed the steps of Mt. Atago on horseback in 1634, Taira rode his BJ up the steps to the Fudo temple in Okasaki city. This feat
convincingly demonstrated the value of the new vehicle.
The following month, the Toyota Jeep BJ was one of 26 Toyota vehicles unveiled at a public showing in front of the Tokyo Railway
Station. The BJ was considered unusual to say the least - it matched a robust 3-ton truck engine with a chassis from a small transport
In reality, those were the only materials Toyota had to work with. But the combination worked. The smaller v ehicle's softer
suspension and car-like characteristics reduced driver fatigue and ensured a comfortable ride. Add an ample sized body used for
transporting materials, driven by an engine with power to spare, and the BJ met multiple needs in the market for a compact 4 x 4
Then history took a surprising turn. What might have been a debilitating setback was instead the catalyst for unanticipated advances.
The Police Defense Forces, for whom the vehicle was originally designed, decided against purchasing the BJ. This stimulated
development of an export strategy, which gave Toyota's engineers considerably more freedom in design and development.
With its large piston displacement, longer wheelbase, larger body, and softer suspension, the BJ was well-suited to the dawning new
age of the 4 x 4. By the time large-scale production began in 1953, the Toyota Jeep BJ was looking confidently into its future -- the
In fact, an English competitor - the Land Rover -- prompte d Hanji Umehara, then Toyota's Managing Director, to rename the BJ. He
needed a name that sounded no less dignified, and so the Land Cruiser was born.
By the mid-1950s the Japanese economy was back on its feet and growing rapidly. The Toyota Crown was released and the Japanese
ministry for Trade and Industry announced its plan to build a "National Car for Japan". Toyota was working hard to set up a domestic
sales network, but already the successful Land Cruiser was seen as a potential export winner: Land Cruiser could hold its own with
rival products such as the American Willys Jeep or British Land Rover. Toyota managers planned to use the Land Cruiser as a
bridgehead in foreign markets to be followed by other passenger cars.
Gradually the military-based BJ-design was altered to make it more suitable for peacetime use. Softer springs were fitted to reduce
driver fatigue, and in 1955 the 20-series was launched alongside the BJ. In 1957 the FJ25L was tested by the US Army in Baltimore,
which signalled to Toyota that the Land Cruiser was more than ready to take on the USA.
|The B series Petrol motor
|The Toyota BJ-type went through a series
of body shape design changes over time.
The original short body hooded cargo and
passenger carrier type was converted to a
metal top type, and a closed type passenger
model was also released. For the cargo
carrying version the rear was extended by
500mm and converted to a pickup truck, and
there was also a truck with a separate unit
cabin and truck bed.
The body panel was rather high off the
ground, but access was still fairly easy due
to a broad sidestep. There were many
variations on spare tire storage, not only on
the rear gate but even on the front fender
or below the truck bed.
Because the body was tapered toward the
front, the diameter of the steering wheel
covered about half of the instrument panel.
The gauges were lined up in a row: fuel, oil
pressure and water temperature gauges,
speedometer, electric current and voltage
metres. In the speedometer with its lar ge
numbers there was also a kilometre and
The tapered body also meant that the two
front seats were quite close together,
making the driver's seat feel rather
cramped. With a passenger in the front
seat, steering was a bit difficult. However,
both seats folded in half to allow access to
the rear seats.
The front windscreen was hinged so that it
could be flipped up, allowing a clear
forward view. This was much more
convenient than having to remove the hood
to lower the frame. When folded down, the
window frame could be secured with a hook
at the edge of the bonnet, using the same
hook that secured the bonnet itself.
The fuel tank was placed in the rear
overhang. The cap did not extend out from
the body and had to be accessed by lifting a
lid. An extension pipe could be pulled out to
allow fuelling from a Jerry can. The
radiator cap extended from the grille,
making it easier to check the coolant level.
|Toyota Land Cruiser 20-30 Series: The 4x4 for the toughest roads
In the mid-1950s, the Japanese economy was thriving and Toyota was working fast to build a domestic sales network to handle the
demand. The Land Cruiser was holding its own against rival models, such as the Willys Jeep and the Land Rover, and Toyota decided the
time was right to expand into foreign markets. Whenever the opportunity presented itself, Toyota was there with the Land Cruiser right
out front, helping establish a bridgehead that the company hoped would pave the way for future sales of passenger cars.
Whereas the original BJ model was built for military use, its design was modified to serve peacetime needs. In August of 1955, the
20-series made its debut.
A 3-plate spring taken from the Crown passenger car was used in the early 20-series to enhance riding comfort. It was not a problem that
in Japan it could only travel up to 60km/h, but this was not adequate for American highways, and the suspension was so sof t that the
vehicle tended to shimmy. The solution was to add a shimmy damper to those models bound for export to the US, a new mechanism for
cars at the time.
The Crown itself could not compete with US-built passenger cars and in 1960 Toyota pulled out of that export market for two years. This
left Toyota America without it's main product; however, the Land Cruiser continued to sell. Until the new model Corona was released in
1965, the Land Cruiser kept Toyota in business in America.
The FJ25 was positioned as the standard of the FJ20 series for the domestic market, but in all there were 10 variations available, from
FJ20 through FJ29. There were two variations on the wheelbase, and a 4x2 Land Cruiser made for the National Police Agency. In 1958
the wheelbase was extended and a van body was introduced.
The Korean War (1950-1953) had spurred demand for military vehicles, and Japanese automakers were invited to meet further demand
by supplying the US Army Procurement Agency in Japan. From January through March of 1957, test vehicles supplied by major
Japanese automakers were put through their paces at the Aberdeen Proving Ground outside Baltimore, MD. The Toyota 750kg capacity
truck and the 2.5 ton capacity diesel truck were selected, but not the Land Cruiser FJ25L (the L designated a left-hand drive model).
Toyota learned much from the experience: changes were made to specs and inspection methods, and processes such as cleaning, painting,
rust protection and product packaging were improved. That know-how later made the difference when Toyota expanded into the
The theme for the 20-series was a new style with more driving comfort, as well as more interior room. As a result, it didn't have much in
common with the BJ, instead showing softer lines in the body styling. These major changes in the chassis frame created a basic design
which remained unchanged for 29 years through the transition to the 40-series.
Toyota Land Cruiser 20-30-Series Styling
Compared with the BJ-type, the 20-series had more spacious interiors, particularly in the front where the steering wheel was moved
closer to the outside. The FJ28V 2-door hardtop had a third bench seat installed in the luggage area. The roof was steel with reinforced
plates on the inside. Rear windows were rather small, about half the depth of the front windows, which opened with a lever that extended
from a hole on the inside of the doors. The doors themselves had hard panels with a reinforced pressed inside lining.
The dashboard included a half-moon-shaped speedometer, a voltage gauge, a water temperature thermometer, fuel gauge and hydraulic
pressure gauge. The gauges were mounted on the same section as the glove compartment, so along with the steering wheel, it could be
easily installed on the right or left side depending on what export regi on the car was bound for.
The FJ25L was a short model whose standard spec did not include a rear gate: a fold-down or fold-out gate was an option.
The FJ35V was a long wheelbase version using the body and chassis from the 20-series. With its round headlamps, barred rear windows
and ridged body panels, its styling somewhat resembled an American school bus. It is the original base model that eventually developed
into the Land Cruiser 100 today.
|The F series Petrol motor