What’s not to love about the Toyota Land Cruiser? As Toyota‘s longest-running nameplate, the Land Cruiser has a richer heritage than any vehicle in the lineup, and the virtually unstoppable off-roader is certainly one of the brand’s most evocative vehicles. Toyota recently sold its 10 millionth Land Cruiser worldwide, am impressive accomplishment to put under its belt before the vehicle turns 70 in a few years.
The Land Cruiser’s journey began in 1951, when it wasn’t even known by that name. The product of the Korean War, which created demand for military trucks, the Land Cruiser started life as the BJ prototype. Early on, the vehicle would scale more than 8,200 feet on Mount Fuji, proving its off-road chops. In 1953, Toyota updated its off-roader for civilian use and it entered series production. It wasn’t until 1954 that director of technology Hanji Umehara would rename the vehicle Land Cruiser (in response to the Land Rover).
Toyota released the second-gen Land Cruiser, dubbed the 20 Series, in 1955. With a spruced up design, it made its way to North America and other markets in large quantities. Through the 1950s and ’60s, buyers enjoyed various engines, body styles, and top configurations as the Land Cruiser zipped into its third generation known as the 40 Series—or FJ40 to fans. The FJ55 station wagon variant arrived in 1967 as a more spacious, family-friendly alternative.
In 1984, Toyota introduced the Land Cruiser 70 Series to international markets as a successor to the beloved 40 Series. To further increase its appeal to customers, Toyota added a Land Cruiser Wagon light-duty, spawning the small Land Cruiser Prado series. Sadly, North America never got the FJ70, but we did get the FJ60 in 1980, the successor to the FJ55 station wagon. High passenger capacity would continue to be a hallmark of the North American-market Land Cruiser through the FJ80 and FJ100 generations.
That brings us to the Land Cruiser we know and love today in the U.S., the 200 Series. First introduced for the 2008 model year, the Land Cruiser 200 Series has received numerous upgrades over the years to prolong its life cycle. Along with excellent off-road capability, the 2020 Toyota Land Cruiser boasts a smooth ride on paved roads as well as a luxurious interior. For 2020, Toyota added a special edition model called the Toyota Land Cruiser Heritage Edition, which gets retro-inspired badging and bronze accents inside and out. Check out the Land Cruiser’s history for yourself in the photos below.