From the rubble of the Second World War, a defeated nation would rise to become one of the most technologically powerful entities on the planet. In the late 1940s, however, there were few indications of the potential Japan had; except, maybe, for one…
Known as the “Toyoda Jeep”, a name which may cause discomfort for some, the automobile department of Toyoda Automatic Loom Works began small-scale production of the “Model B-85” in September, 1947. A descendant of wartime personal transports: the Model B-85 looked enough like the Willys Jeep to be considered a copy right infringement in the USA. It is interesting to note that the spelling was slightly changed when the Toyoda family consulted what might considered in the USA as a fortune teller. The teller said “great idea, bad karma”, and the name was changed to Toyota.
In 1952, the year after this 1951 BJ was produced, the slightly re-designed Toyota Land Cruiser, now powered by a six cylinder overhead valve 236.7 cubic inch gasoline engine with a four speed gear transmission, quickly developed a following in Australia.
In 1958, the year before this 1959 FJ25 was produced, Toyota began production of the Land Cruiser FJ25. This was to mark the beginning of the more “modern” body style that we know today; the headlights were moved from the fenders to the grill, the windshield glass was now one piece and the hood and fenders now had that unmistakable hint of FJ40 ancestry. With these refinements, the Land Cruiser could now legally be sold in the USA.
The engine, now known as the “F” series, was the same proven engine found in the Model B-85 and was, for the time being, still paired with a four speed gear box. However, much like the evolution of the mammal, the history of the Land Cruiser is a series of minor improvements to help it better survive its environment.
In 1961, the year after this 1960 FJ25 was produced, Toyota went to a three speed transmission which allowed the shifter to be placed on the steering column (a “three-on-the-tree” design). They also placed the transfer case shifter on the dash and added a bench seat to allow three people to sit comfortably up front.
In 1962, the land Cruiser underwent another significant change. The door wells were enlarged to make entry and exit more comfortable, a headlight bezel was added to the grill and a hard top and hard doors became an option. The result was to be called the Land Cruiser FJ40, and would become a legend throughout the world for practicality, reliability and endurance.
The 1962 through 1964 FJ40 were easily identified by their corrugated top, folding rear window and the lack of the rear corner windows that have since become so uniquely Land Cruiser. The fiberglass roof cap also has a rather effective flip-up vent that was discontinued in 1964.
In 1965, Toyota treated the Land Cruiser buyer to better visibility, via larger side window, the addition of corner windows and a one piece, swing up rear window. The running boards were also extended farther back to provide more protection and a larger step.
1965 was, however, the last year for the pop-out vent below the windshield. With these changes, the FJ40 now looked much as it would for the rest of its production.
1968 saw the addition of dash pads to meet USA safety standards. To accomplish this, the windshield latches on the dash were replaced with the large, black handled screws that are now more familiar to most of us. To allow for the addition of the lower pads, all of the control knobs were relocated to the center of the dashboard where they were to remain until 1983. Vehicle Identification Number, or V.I.N., tags were also added to the aprons in front of the kick vents and to the frame member between the new, larger taillights.
The windshield wipers were made more efficient by eliminating one of the two motors. The work of the second motor was now accomplished with a cable PTO and gear box from the first motor to the second wiper. While re-designing items at the top of the windshield frame, the rear view mirror was also modified. The mirror now clipped to a mount on the frame rather than bolting directly to the frame. This was done primarily to meet DOT standards for crash safety but also helped eliminate some of the vibration of earlier models.
A drive line change for 1968 involved an upgrade to something many people are intimately familiar with… a Birfield axle. This replaced a less reliable ball-joint axle used through the 1967 model year.
Less noticeable for 1968 was the switch to an accelerator cable, rather than linkage. This switch would be short-lived, however, as Toyota would revert back to an accelerator linkage at the end of 1973. A more lasting change to the motor was the change to a one-piece manifold gasket. This would help eliminate some, though not all, of the F engines chronic exhaust leak.
For model year 1969, the round, fender-mounted turn signals were replaced by the orange, rectangular ones used through 1971. 1969 also represents one of the few mid-year changes Toyota did to the FJ40. Just in time for “the summer of love”, Toyota added an adjustable bell crank to the pitman arm, which allowed some of the play to be adjusted out of the steering as it became apparent.
Under the hood of the 1969 FJ40, the F series engine was given 10 more horsepower, increasing total output to 145. This increase was achieved through improved carburetion. However, during 1969 three different carburetor designs were used , so the month is important in determining specific applications. In the event that anyone were to get in the way of this new, faster FJ40, the final change for the year was a louder, multi-tone horn.
A series of minor changes would give the 1970 Land Cruiser a facelift. The round side marker lights were added to the aprons above the fenders on either side of the hood. Also the round , orange marker lights below the grill and the round, yellow reflectors added to the aprons in 1968 were removed entirely.
Not satisfied with the performance increase in 1969, Toyota engineers added another 10 horsepower to the F series engine for 1970. This additional horsepower brought the total to 155, where it would stay for the rest of the FJ40s production for the American market.
Braking was the motivation for the change in July of 1970 for the 1971 model year. The brake hydraulic system was no longer one single unit, but was separated into a front and a rear system. This reduced the likelihood of complete loss of brakes if a leak were to develop. This change is most obvious on the master cylinder, where an additional reservoir was added for the new system. A brake booster was also added to the system to make stopping less difficult.
Updates for the 1972 Land Cruiser were very subtle. The old two piece hood was replaced by a one piece, slightly taller one and the shifter was relocated back to the floor. The transfer case selector was also moved to the floor, but the dash-mounted selector was still optional in Canada.
In 1973, safety and comfort seemed to be the motivational forces behind the design changes. Perhaps most importantly, a secondary hood catch was added to help prevent the damage too familiar to anyone who has forgotten to re-latch their hood after checking the oil. To help keep some things in and some things out, a locking fuel door, hinged at the bottom, was also added.
On the interior the changes were somewhat more pronounced. Fixed back bucket seats and head rests with a small, metal center console now replaced the older three piece bench seat and driver side tool box. On the dashboard: the signal indicators were moved into the instrument cluster, the ignition switch was moved to the steering column and covered with a plastic housing, and the dome light was now actuated by a switch on the light itself and no longer by a switch on the dash. Lastly, the lower, right side dash pad was now split to allow for the addition of a factory AM radio and padding was added to the center of the steering wheel.
Steering in the Land Cruiser was also improved for the 1973 production year. The steering box was strengthened and separated from the shaft with the addition of a joint. This helped eliminate some of the play that many who own older Land Cruisers are intimately familiar with. The good news for these people is that the new box is easily retro-fitted, using the shaft from a later model Land Cruiser (for 7/69 and older FJ40s it will also be necessary to use a newer steering wheel): 1973 also saw the addition of a smog pump to meet the more stringent California emissions laws.
The 1974 modifications were varied, but make it the most easily discernible of all model year FJ40s. The round taillights were replaced by the more modern rectangular lights and the single reverse indicator light was removed from the tub. These taillights would be used for the rest of the FJ40s production, but 1974 was the only year they were used with the one piece rear window in the USA. The rear reflectors were moved from the frame with two separate lights rather than just one. The bolt pattern is the same through February 1974, so it is an easy retrofit.
1974 also marked the first significant change in the drive train for Toyota since going to a column mounted three speed. A four speed transmission was again available, but the three speed was still standard. Since the first gear on the four speed was lower than in the three speed, the four speed transfer case low range gearing was made higher than in the three speed transfer case (1.959:1 versus 2.313:1). This lower gearing in the three speed transfer case is what makes it so desirable to rock crawlers, and is why it is such a common replacement on late model four speeds.
In the engine compartment, a semi-electronic ignition was now standard in all California model FJ40s. This would begin the elimination of points on FJ40s. However, it was not until 1978 that Land Cruisers for the other 49 states would receive the same improvement.
To meet US safety standards, a roll bar was added to the interior and the rear jump seats were shortened to fit between the posts of the roll bar. The front heater was also updated to deliver heat more effectively via more selections and a larger internal radiator. Finally, the emblems on the front aprons were modified to emphasize the name “Land Cruiser” rather than the company “Toyota”… showing, perhaps, that the Land Cruiser had become a flagship vehicle for Toyota.
Model year 1975 represented the conclusion of a busy year for the Toyota engineers. Both mechanically and cosmetically, many changes were made. The most noticeable change was the way the rear doors opened to gain access to the cargo area. Gone was the old three piece tailgate where the top half raised just high enough to scalp the owner; in its place were the two piece ambulance doors that made entry and exit a breeze. The spare tire was also moved from the right side of the tub to the left.
The driver and passenger doors were updated in 1975 to the more modern design still used today in the BJ45s. This design change eliminated the vent windows (permanently in the USA, though optional elsewhere) but would add the “luxury” of vinyl door panels. These doors are an easy upgrade on older Land Cruisers and are significantly quieter and more durable than the older two piece doors.
The windshield wipers and motor were moved from the top of the windshield to the bottom. This was done to meet DOT requirements to eliminate dangerous protrusions on the windshield. This also made them slightly less susceptible to low-hanging branches with the top off. The rubber pads on the hood for resting the windshield on were replaced with metal arches with a rubber cap, giving the hood a lighter look.
On the fenders, the rectangular, orange turn signals were replaced with the larger, square parking/turn lights. These also had a marker light on the side, so the rectangular marker light added to the apron in 1970 was removed.
Mechanically, the changes were equally as impressive. The older 236.7 cubic inch “F” engine was bored out to 258 cubic inches and re-named the “2F”. A new carburetor topped off the new power plant and a four speed transmission became standard. Items as proven as the under carriage also received some engineering attention in 1975. The rear shock mounts were moved from the axle to the spring plates at the bottom of the U-bolts. This allowed for a longer shock with more dampening ability and slightly more travel in the rear axle.
The location of the muffler was also moved from between the frame rails in the middle of the vehicle to the rear of the body. The exhaust now exited on the right side of the tub rather than on the left. The drawback to this new design is that the addition of an extra tank requires that the newer exhaust be routed the way it was in 1974.
The significant change for 1976 was the switch from drum to disc brakes up front. The rest of the world would have to wait for this upgrade; in Australia and Europe it would not be until 1979 that disks were even an option. Inside the engine, the oil pump was modified slightly to help keep oil pressure even at idle.
The changes to the 1977 Land Cruiser, which were actually done in late August 1976, were timid compared to 1975, and were really only cosmetic. Visibility was improved with the addition of the larger square, plastic side mirrors. Some squeaks were eliminated with the switch from a sheet metal to a tubular spare tire carrier.
The only way to distinguish a 1978 from a 1977 FJ40 is that in 1978 they eliminated the fresh air vent in the cowl between the windshield and the hood. This eliminated a source of leaks but had no real effect on the vehicle. A more beneficial change was the update to a semi-electronic ignition on all non-California model Land Cruisers. The final change to the FJ40 for 1978 was to the horns. The new horns had the same volume and a similar tone as the old horns, but were slightly smaller.
1979 would mark the final great mutation in the Land Cruiser抯 evolution in North America. Cosmetically, the most noticeable change was in the grill. The headlights had to be moved 32mm further apart to conform to European highway standards; this manifested itself as a headlight bezel that was now square and sat out slightly from the sheet metal. The fuel tank door was now hinged forward, rather than at the bottom, to prevent it from bending under the weight of keys when the door is open.
Inside, the changes were equally as obvious and were geared toward greater comfort. The bucket seats now reclined and moved back another two inches; improving leg room for 6 guys like myself tremendously. The hand brake was moved from below the dash to the transmission tunnel and the sun visors were enlarged. And finally, to finish off the new, more user friendly Land Cruiser interior, power steering and air conditioning now became factory (not just dealer) installed options. To allow for these additions, bolt holes were now added to the engine block to bolt on the power steering pump.
Mechanically, the changes were also impressive in 1979. To start with, the fuel tank was relocated from below the passenger seat to below the body tub, and the capacity was increased from 18 to 22 gallons. In the fuel line, the filter was now plastic rather than metal. To clean up emissions of the burnt fuel, a catalytic converter was added to help reduce emissions of 03 (ozone).
In the drive line, the ring and pinion ratio was changed from 4.11 to 3.73. This improved the FJ40s ability to drive on the expressway by lowering the RPM of the engine. The hand (parking) brake was also moved from behind the transfer case to the rear drums in an effort to increase effectiveness.
About this time, import quotas began taking a bite out of the numbers of Land Cruisers Toyota could export into the USA. This is also the year that the 4WD pick up was first introduced. This combination of reasons is why we don抰 find many of the FJ40s.
1981 saw many important changes. The first was a change to a completely electronic ignition; making the ignition system much more trouble-free. Along with this new ignition system, Toyota changed the valve train slightly; lightening it up to allow the engine to reach higher RPMs more quickly. This was done mostly for the FJ60, which shares the same engine, since the FJ40 was on its way out of North America. Another change was simply a statement of confidence; a seventh digit was added to the odometer. This would forever eliminate the guesswork at how many hundreds of thousands of miles an FJ40 had.
For 1981, the FJ40 was updated with a split transfer case. This allowed for smooth “shift on the fly” from 2WD to 4WD with the hubs locked at up to 50 MPH. The FJ40 buyer was now given the option of relocating the rear heater to between the front seats. The optional heater now had its own heater valve and ash tray for the comfort and convenience of the rear seat passengers.
To help the Land Cruiser take bumps more smoothly, the leafs springs were lengthened and widened slightly. The eyelets were also enlarged to allow for larger bushings. This made the bushings last longer and gave slightly more cushion to the suspension. The drawback to this design change for those of us who own FJ40s is that, as of this writing, there are no after market springs made for them.
In 1982, the only significant change to the FJ40 was to the interior. The dome light could be automatically actuated by the opening of the driver or passenger door.
The final change to the FJ40 was for the 1983 model year. These changes were done mostly for other markets, since in 1983 Toyota exported only 300 FJ40s to the USA. The dash was updated with a clock, a more modern slide out ash tray and intermittent wipers. These changes carried the FJ40 through the remainder of 1983 and through 1984. 1985 was to mark the extinction of new FJ40s in North America; only 20 were brought in.
The purpose of this article is two-fold. Primarily it is intended to help people know which parts any given Land Cruiser has when they find it in the paper, over the phone or intend to restore an older FJ40. Secondly, it is intended to assist my fellow Land Cruiser addicts to determine the year of any given FJ40.
Although the FJ40 has gone the way of the Woolly Mammoth, its legend and offspring continue to flourish. The BJ70 has filled the two door market and in Brazil a close cousin of the FJ40, the Bandeirante OJ40, has the same hood and fenders as the FJ40, yet has a slightly different body tub. Through the efforts of the TLCA and all of us who love them, FJ40s have proven they will be around for a long time to come.