Since its launch, the iconic off-roader has fulfilled its mission of delivering safety and security to all kinds of people in places that can only be reached in a Land Cruiser. Toyota Global Design Head Simon Humphries shares the inspiring history of the Land Cruiser.
‘When the Land Cruiser legend was born 72 years ago, it was the time of Kiichiro Toyoda, founder of Toyota Motor Corporation. The company was only 14 years old, a disruptive “start-up” in the automotive world. Corolla and Crown were still to come, and Toyota was hardly known outside Japan. Fast-forward to today, and the Land Cruiser is sold in 170 countries and regions around the world. Literally, the Land Cruiser put Toyota on the map.
‘Lifelong bonds are often formed in the most demanding of circumstances, and our customers have experienced the extremes of life alongside their Land Cruisers. From prairies to deserts, from the North to the South Pole, it is safe to say the Land Cruiser has seen more sides of life than any other automobile in history.
‘At Toyota, we like to say “the road makes the car”. With the Land Cruiser, the car makes the road. These roads connect communities and enable irreplaceable ways of life. In rural Africa, a doctor rushes to a patient through floodwaters. In the Australian outback, an elderly woman takes a two-day roundtrip to the nearest town. In Antarctica, an observation team works in a minus 45-degree blizzard. Indeed, one of the first cars to conquer Antarctica was a Land Cruiser 40 Series.
‘The first exports of the Land Cruiser were to the Middle East in the mid-1950s. Thanks to Saudi Arabian car distributor Abdul Latif Jameel, local folklore now says “only a Land Cruiser, or a camel, can get you over these dunes”. But it was in Japan, in an area only accessible on horseback, that the story began. In 1951, on the steep volcanic slopes of Mount Fuji, development of the first-generation Land Cruiser, the Toyota BJ, [for use by Japan’s National Police Reserve started at their request]. This sounds like the perfect story, but in reality, it didn’t get the job.