A Photo for Sunday – 1984 Toyota Land Cruiser (J40)

I can’t figure this out.

1960-1984 Toyota Land Cruiser (J40) seen in Copenhagen, Denmark.
1960-1984 Toyota Land Cruiser (J40) seen in Copenhagen, Denmark.

It’s a J40 Toyota Landcruiser, last in production in 1984. This one looked as if it was brand new. That means it’s been restored, which is not something I’d ever expect of a Toyota. Then there was another curious detail in the surrounding circumstances… an immaculate J80 Land Cruiser stood a few cars up the way.

Toyota made the J80 from 1990 to 1997 and is styled in entirely the same way as a Toyota Corolla. Owners of Range Rovers would not be impressed by the purply-grey mottled velour upholstery or the waxy look of the interior plastics. Anyone would be impressed by the fact it seemed to have been near so much as a deep puddle. I spotted both of these near central Copenhagen which is not the most challenging environment for an off-roader of the calibre of these mighty machines.

1990-1997 Toyota Land Cruiser (J80). What is the Danish equivalent of a Chelsea farmer?
1990-1997 Toyota Land Cruiser (J80). What is the Danish equivalent of a Chelsea farmer?

And back to that J40: does anyone one know if this car was produced as a long-lived fossil in the manner of the Land Rover or Mercedes G-Wagen? When I spied the shiny, fresh paint and unmarked interior I had the idea it was a retro-production, old engineering still being made because of its unstoppable, simple robustness. Or is it really possible that deep in Copenhagen there is a person with not one but two immaculate Toyota off-roaders that never, ever go off road (or even leave this post-code?).

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

9 thoughts on “A Photo for Sunday – 1984 Toyota Land Cruiser (J40)”

  1. Why shouldn’t anyone restore a Japanese car? Some of them have become true classics, like this J40, a 1973 Celica or an LJ80. Some years ago there was a meeting for Japanese classics (or only Toyotas? I don’t remember exactly) in my area. It was amazing to see even the most humble everyday cars from the ’70s someone bothered to keep and restore. Back in the day, I found them horrible with their baroque shapes and odd chrome ornaments, but in today’s context I only realise how rare they have become and how fond I grow of practically every slightly oddball old car.

    BTW, Wikipedia says the Land Cruiser J40 has been produced until 2001 in Brazil, called Bandeirante there. I doubt that you’d find one of those in Europe, though.

  2. I’d pay money to see some old Japanese cars. I am pleased there are people keen on keeping them going. The passage of time has given them an immense appeal for me. The awkward shapes I remember look much more intelligible now.

    1. Richard, your last sentence quite exactly expresses my own feelings. I wonder where this comes from. Maybe because in 1980, we compared these shapes with a Fiat 128, VW Golf I or a Peugeot 304, whereas today’s benchmarks are something like a Mercedes GLA or a Nissan Juke?

  3. Looking back, the uniform contempt for Japanese cars was probably partially informed by prejudice. That attitude persisted in the public longer than in the press. When I read the quite complimentary reviews of late 80s Hondas, Subarus and Toyotas I note how different the reaction was to the general view. I read a 1990 review of the Legend coupe recently. The car got a nice write-up, saying it was close to Merecedes 260E though the detail design was held to be too ornate. If you’d asked me in 1990 to rate the Legend coupe I’d have jeered and dismissed it. Today I find their approach very impressive and I’d be as happy to have a Legend coupe as a 260E.

  4. Seen in direct comparison to vehicles like the E28 BMW 5-series, any 80s Mercedes and the neat work from Fiat and Citroen, Japanese cars seemed inferior. These days I am considering the broader picture and I have more catholic tastes. My Eurocentrism has diminished so I judge designs on a less narrow range of criteria. Also, I didn’t have exposure to all the offerings from Japan. In 1985 when thinking of a Japanese car I would think of a Corolla. These days my references are Kei cars, technomarvels like the Galant 4WS, the Prelude, Lexus LS 400 and Century. I find the Japanese willingness to play with design very refreshing. European design does classic good taste very well but it becomes numbing.

  5. If I would seach for a japanese car of the seventies or eighties for my theoretical youngtimer-collection, I would never choose an off-road-car. Because they are all imitating US-Offroaders, so .I am missing the quirky japanese style of their civilised brothers.
    Especially the FJ40 could be a Jeep-version. Ok, the FJ55 Station Wagon or the shown Landcruiser J80 are really nice cars, but nevertheless i would prefer their street-cars from the 70ies or 80ies.
    The Lexus LS400 is one of my favourites too, of course the Subaru XT – but a Nissan Prairie, a Toyota S60 Crown, a Mazda 929 Coupe, a Honda Accord Aerodeck or a Mitsubishi Galant Turbo are also on my list.

    Toyota Offroaders – in my eyes – were always cars for heavy duties, built to last nearly forever.
    It is the favourite sort of car for the Taliban, and they know for sure where to install there machine gun…. I never saw a Taliban sitting in a Defender….

  6. I agree about prejudice having an influence, and i’m always a little amused at the boring label, never had the time to be bored whilst endlessly fixing many of my cars of the 70’s, first name terms at the parts desk, whilst wistfully observing people who ran Datsuns and Toyotas of the time totally neglect the things and they never went wrong, boring indeed.

    ISTR Japanese motorcycles being the butt of many jokes in previous years, and currently it’s Japanese commercial vehicles which get the same ire from the fashion victims in euro lorry world, Japanese trucks are like their better 4×4 counterparts, simple tough and durable and most importantly made to be fixed in the field, minimal electronics to go wrong, basic but high quality designs lasting for years/decades in the ”if it aint broke don’t fix it” mould, and none the worse for that.

    I’m a great fan of that method of design, too many excellent babies get thorown out with the bathwater when fashion design and legislation changes.
    Kiss…keep it simple.

    1. Hello and welcome to DTW. Do you think it´s possible to keep it simple in engineering terms but make the car interesting to look at and drive? Are there any cars in that category?

  7. Thanks for the welcome RH.
    i tend to waffle so tell me if i’m going on too much!

    In Europe i think the days of simple in cars are well and truly over, increasing legislation and the insistence of buyers for new and ever more electronic tat to go wrong.
    I have no doubt in other countries where your life might depend on your vehicle that simpler designs are still sold new, where no doubt the Japanese and Koreans feature highly.

    I’m in a time warp and have no need or want to change, we run three cars, one of which is an 80’s design built in last year of mainstream production ’96.
    The others two are 90’s designs made in ’00 and ’02, and yes one of those is a Landcruiser and both are Japanese old school.

    Amazingly very few people have cottoned on to this dwindling stock of arguably some of the best designed cars ever made, hence they are cheap as chips to buy (Landcruiser excepted), so if you haven’t got one, get a good one, look after it the way we used to before some comedian/lunatic pen pusher in a shiny suit suggested 20k oil change intervals would be a good thing, and rustproof it and it will last indefinately without a single finance payment ever.

    90’s to me are just about the pinnacle of car (and truck and 4×4) design when you balance all the points, in no particular order economy power delivery efficiency strength comfort handling safety driveability corrosion resistance reliability and durability all in a vehicle that was still in many cases (certainly Japanese of the time) well proved designs fairly simple and can be diagnosed and fixed by someone competent, often the long term home mechanic, in the case of my two Japanese cars both are a pleasure to work on (apart from spark plug changes on the Subaru.:-), simple tough reliable durable and competent, what more can you ask from a vehicle.
    After the 90’s designs things got increasingly silly, and i have no desire for anything made after about 2005.
    With one exception.

    You can still buy a new 70 series Landcruiser from the final batch they made last year before Japan production ended, but you’ll have to grey import it direct.
    It’ll still look like a 1984 70 series, ok facelifted slightly, it will have the very tough and relatively simple 4.0V6 petrol engine and a 5 speed manual box and it still sits stubbornly solid on its brick outhouse chassis and leaf springs, it wasn’t broke in the first place (it’s unbreakable) so they didn’t fix it.

    That’s about as simple as you can buy now IMO, a very interesting vehicle if you like that sort of thing, you’ll find some for sale on TradeCarView if you want to have a look.


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