The Toyota Land Cruiser BJ40 was the diesel variant of the J40 series, with its better known sibling the FJ40 being fitted with a petrol engine. The J40 series of 4x4s had a remarkable 40+ year production run that started in 1960 and didn’t end until the last factory building them closed down in Brazil in 2001.

A Short History of the Toyota Land Cruiser BJ40

Curiously the story of the Toyota Land Cruiser began not in Japan, but in the United States, in the story of the creation of the American Willys Jeep. The first Jeep was created by American Bantam, itself an offshoot of Austin of Britain. At the outbreak of the Second World War the US Army put an urgent call out for designs for a Jeep like vehicle. The demand was high and the deadline short which resulted in only American Bantam submitting a design and a working prototype. As it turned out the Bantam design was not the one finally accepted by the Army, but some quantities of the Bantam BRC-60 found their way into the war and one was discovered by the invading Japanese forces in the Philippines, who promptly sent it back to Japan for evaluation. The Japanese military was impressed with the lively little Bantam and ordered Toyota to build them something very like it. This was the Toyota AK and it proved to be the grandfather of the Toyota Land Cruiser.

In the post war period American company Willys, who were building the Jeep in the US, took exception to Toyota making a “Jeep” and thus Toyota were forced to re-design their own light four wheel drive vehicle which they subsequently called the “Land Cruiser”. This was the original BJ series and it was developed in 1951 in part for Japan’s own needs but also to fill requests from the US military for vehicles for the Korean War.

The first BJ was slightly larger than the original Willys Jeep and was powered by a Toyota 3.4 litre Type B in-line six cylinder engine. The gearbox was a three speed crash box and there was no high/low range transfer box at that time. The four wheel drive system, like that of the Willys and the Land Rover, was part-time.

The BJ was further developed and in 1955 the second generation model the J20 made its appearance. This in turn was developed and improved to become the J30 and by 1960 the J40, which was powered by a 3.9 litre six cylinder Type F petrol engine, and it retained a three speed gearbox, but with the welcome addition of a high/low range transfer box.

The J40 would become the classic Toyota Land Cruiser and it would be fitted with a number of engines including the 3.0 litre four cylinder diesel Type B engine in 1974, and the Mercedes-Benz MAC-314 on the Brazil made Bandeirante versions. Later in 1980 Toyota fitted a 4.0 litre 6 cylinder diesel engine and this also proved to be a wonderful engine.

The diesel powered Land Cruisers were the BJ40 models and they became renowned for reliability. The petrol powered FJ40 vehicles sold in much larger numbers, but it is the diesel BJ40 that tends to be in higher demand for collectors and enthusiasts.

The Toyota Land Cruiser achieved a near legendary reputation for reliability and performance, so much so that by the 1970’s they had largely replaced the British Land Rover in the Australian Outback, and had made great inroads in African markets also.

The Toyota Land Cruiser BJ40 Shown Here

The BJ40 you see here has been comprehensively restored by Legacy Overland to better-than-original condition. Every part has been either reconditioned or replaced, and the body, chassis, engine has been comprehensively restored, using new parts and paint that’ll far outlast their original counterparts.

Legacy Overland are headquartered in Greenwich, Connecticut in the USA, and they specialise in restoring classic 4x4s to a show-stopping level of quality. This Land Cruiser is one of their latest builds, and it’s a great example of their work.

The vehicle has been tastefully updated with LED lighting and a Bluetooth-enabled retro-classic radio, as well as Italian leather stitched bucket seats and rear benches, and an extra-strength roll-bar for safety. Underneath the BJ40 has been kitted out with Old Man Emu suspension components and new BF Goodrich Mud-Terrain T/A tires – to ensure the new owner really can go anywhere.

If you’d like to read more about this car or register to bid you can click here to visit the listing on Bonhams.

Published by Ben Branch -