The Land Cruiser has a very long-standing reputation amongst car and off-road enthusiasts. Though the origins of this magnificent addition to the motoring world are just as remarkable in a humble and somewhat desperate sort of way.
It was in 1951, Japan was trying to put back the pieces in a post-war society. Every industry affected in their own way, the automotive industry being no different. However, with some interest and the need for a compact 4×4 for the US soldiers stationed in Japan at the time gave us the first in the line of the legacy we have today. The vehicle that they designed and released in 1951 was the Toyota Jeep BJ, pictured below.
At first, the National Police Reserve Forces in Japan put out a bid for a compact 4×4 which ended in the Toyota Jeep BJ and the Willys Jeep competing for the spotlight. They went with the Willys Jeep due to the specs being just that much better, a 2.2-liter compact in-line 4-cylinder engine mounted in a compact body in comparison to the Toyota BJ-type vehicle with a 3.4-liter large-sized in-line 6-cylinder engine. This left the BJ open to other interested parties like the US stationed in Japan. At one point, the National Police Reserve Forces began using the BJ-type vehicle after some modifications and the realization that it is basically an SB-type chassis mounted with an engine built for a 4-ton truck. Though ultimately, they kept with the Willys Jeep.
Later, due to a dispute about the Jeep name the vehicle was eventually renamed Land Cruiser around 1955. This moved Toyota into making the 20-series Land Cruiser that, over the years, became the Land Cruiser we know and love.
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