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Land Cruiser's 60: What's next?

2011-03-08 08:22

HOW MOST PEOPLE VISUALISE A LAND CRUISER: This is the 20 Series.

That icon of Africa overland and sunny safaris, the Toyota Land Cruiser, will turn 60 this year, stronger and better than ever according to the Japanese automaker.

"Far from aging gracefully, the legendary 4x4 remains one of the toughest machines on four wheels," the company says. "It’s conquered the Arctic (and Antarctic), traversed deserts, ploughed its way through tropical rain forests and generally taken the worst the world can throw at it in its stride."

As with other vehicles in its stable when they reach "birthday" landmarks, Toyota SA will be launching a 60th Edition version of most of the Cruiser models available locally.

These special anniversary editions, with the Land Cruiser 76 and 79 the first in line, have the same robust construction and sophisticated array of driving and control systems for exceptional on and off-road performance as their established models, together with some extra style and equipment details.

KICK-START FROM POLICE FLEET

Land Cruiser ancestry can be traced back to the Toyota BJ of 1951, a truck-derived model developed for military use. Within six months of its launch the BJ was hailed as a champion after becoming the first vehicle to be driven to the sixth hill station of Japan’s Mount Fuji, 2500m up.

As a result of that feat, the BJ was added to the Japanese police fleet and the model’s long-term success began. In 1954 the Type 25 BJ was given a generic model name – Land Cruiser – which has been used ever since.

STARTER KIT: The BJ of 1951 that started it all - this is the soft-top version.

As Toyota began its programme of worldwide exports and growth during the 1950's and 1960's it found many established markets were already well-served by American and European 4x4 brands. This prompted the company to focus instead on emerging markets in the Middle and Far East, Africa and South America, where the Land Cruiser’s tough performance made it a strong proposition.

The Cruiser concept was refined in the mid-1960's as Toyota responded to an American trend for more-refined all-wheel drive vehicles. The introduction in 1966 of the first Land Cruiser wagon series – forerunner of today’s Land Cruiser 200 V8 – catered for this growing market, joining the range alongside its more rugged stablemate.

FURTHER GENERATIONS

Further development of the Land Cruiser concept came in 1985 when Toyota recognised the potential for a model that could offer the manoeuvrability and uncompromising off-road strengths of the Heavy Duty series with the comfort and refinement of the wagon. The result: the first Land Cruiser “Light Duty” series.

MODERN MIGHT: And right up to date - the latest Toyota Land Cruiser Prado.

From this point Land Cruiser progressed through two further generations: in 1996 (the Land Cruiser Prado) and 2002 before the launch of the current model in 2009.

The larger Land Cruiser 100, also introduced in 1996, (replacing the Land Cruiser 80) was replaced with Land Cruiser 200 in 2008.

To date more than five million Land Cruiser models have been sold in 188 countries and regions worldwide.

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