Every time I share photos of an old Toyota Land Cruiser I spotted in a junkyard, the anguished wails from readers commence. Nobody ever asks me where to find those doomed trucks so they can buy parts before The Crusher eats them, and only a few of the anguished wails come from Land Cruiser aficionados troubled by the demise of another old FJ. No, what upsets so many is the offense against reality on display, the demise of a truck worth 25 grandâ€” no, 50 grand!â€” in any county, parish, or prefecture on the planet. Well, all I can say is that real-world values of vehicles often differ from what we think they should be, and todayâ€™s Junkyard Find proves this (again).
Yes, what we have here is a genuine, numbers-matching, early-production FJ55 Land Cruiser, among the Legacies and Jettas of the imports section of a big self-serve yard about halfway between Denver and Cheyenne. Iâ€™ve found some interesting machinery in this place, including a Vauxhall Victor, a â€™60 Chevy Brookwood two-door wagon, and one of the first Audis ever sold in the United States.
Before a vehicle reaches the public inventory of a U-Wrench yard, plenty of knowledgeable professionals get the opportunity to buy it. When that vehicle is something like a post-C4 Corvette or Jaguar E-Type, it gets rescued. When itâ€™s a rusty FJ55 â€¦ well, here it is.
Toyota was still license-building a lot of GM hardware in the early 1970s, including this 3.9-liter straight-six pushrod engine derived from the Chevrolet â€œStoveboltâ€� that powered so many cars and trucks from the 1920s through the 1960s. By 1971, the Toyota and GM designs had diverged enough that few parts would interchange, but Toyota was still paying licensing fees to The General. The two-speed Toyoglide transmission (based on the GM Powerglide) was still going into some Toyotas at this point, too.
No FJ55s got Toyoglides at the factory, however, or any automatic transmission. This one has a good old three-on-the-tree column-shift manual, the same kind of rig that went into millions of Stovebolt-powered Chevrolets of the 1940s and 1950s. American truck shoppers could get a new three-on-the-tree from GM all the way through 1987, but the Land Cruiser went to all floor-shift manuals much earlier than that.
The column-mounted shifter is what you need if you want to squeeze three people into the front bench seat without banging the middle passengerâ€™s knees with every shift.
The Land Cruiser has always been more about sturdiness than luxury, which is why itâ€™s finally getting the axe in North America. Few of us felt willing to pay six figures for a Warlord Grade truck with less snazz and a rougher ride than any number of cheaper luxury SUVs, regardless of the near-Century-grade build quality. However, even the early Land Cruiser wagons got some comfort upgrades, such as this heater beneath the front seats. Yes, thatâ€™s a bare heater core with exposed hoses and a crude steel box containing a fan; functional and easy to maintain, but better-suited for the mountains of Waziristan than the valet parking of Aspen.
The interior is done up in materials chosen more for longevity than cushiness, and the fact that this stuff still looks pretty good at age 50 tells us that Toyota chose well.
Cruises at 85 miles per hour all day long, and you travel in seven-man, foam-seat comfort!
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