There is indeed something to be said for raw American muscle—particularly as it pertains to powerful cars. But there’s also tremendous strength and dignity in that which is reliable, resilient, and impeccably designed. And when it comes to off-road vehicles, the Toyota Land Cruisers of decades past have set a different sort of standard; one that is defined more by its understated substance than by flashy, high horse-power style.
Beginning in the 1950s with the release of the Toyota Jeep BJ, the company’s first forays into off-road territory were actually a product of the Korean War. The American military was looking for a locally-produced substitute for the Willys Jeep, and Japan's Toyota Co. obliged, specially creating a utility vehicle that was even larger and more powerful than its predecessor. By the 1960s, however, the company’s focus had turned to producing vehicles with more civilian appeal—hence the introduction of the FJ series. These early Land Cruisers—with the rugged FJ40 at the vanguard—quickly caught on in America. Though of comparatively low horse-power, they garnered a reputation for their reliability and longevity, and gained a loyal following across the Pacific. The decades that followed would see the release of the upgraded FJ60 series, as well as the FJ80 series, although the original FJ40 remains, due in no small part to its scrappy little engine and pure nostalgic appeal, the favorite of many collectors and off-road enthusiasts to this day.
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