In 1958, Toyota sold exactly one — that’s right, just one — Land Cruiser in the United States.
“But then,” Toyota’s U.S. division notes, “legends sometimes get off to a slow start.”
That said, Toyota recently sold its 10-millionth Land Cruiser since the vehicle launched, to a customer in Australia.
“As one of today’s most luxurious full-capability SUVs, the 2020 Land Cruiser might seem to have little in common with the bare-bones Land Cruiser models built through the late 1970s,” Toyota continued in its celebration of the model.
“Yet, Land Cruisers new and classic are connected through the decades by world-renowned capability, an adventurous streak, and the shared Toyota core values of quality, dependability and reliability.”
The company announced a limited 2020 Land Cruiser Heritage Edition honoring the model’s debut in the U.S. market. The new limited-edition model will be available only in Midnight Black Metallic or Blizzard Pearl exterior, with bronze-tone BBS forged aluminum wheels, and exclusive interior appointments.
The Land Cruiser dates to 1950 and a vehicle developed for Japan’s National Police Reserve Forces and the need for a rugged, locally built all-terrain 4-wheel drive vehicle. Toyota responded with the BJ, powered by a 75 horsepower 6-cylinder engine and proved its mettle when test driver Ichiro Taira made it to the sixth checkpoint on the road up 12,388-foot Mt. Fuji.
“That was further up the mountain than any motor vehicle had ever gone,” Toyota noted.
In 1954, the vehicle was renamed as the Land Cruiser, now with a 3.9-liter inline-6 and solid not only in Japan but in South America and Middle East.
Toyota established Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., in late October, 1957, in a former Rambler dealership in Hollywood, California. Sales began in 1958 with 287 Toyopet Crown sedans and a single 20 Series Land Cruiser.
Things changed with the introduction in 1960 of the FJ40 with a new chassis, fold-down windshield, wraparound rear windows and an engine that provided a class-leading 200 pound-feet of torque. The FJ40 was the first Land Cruiser with a 2-speed transfer case for improved off-road capability. It was Toyota’s best-seller in the U.S. market through 1965.