Like the Jeep and the Land Rover before it, the Toyota Land Cruiser is a vehicle whose reputation was hard earned in battle, mud, and desert sand. This Japanese take on the all-purpose off-roader can thank the original Jeep for its existence, which is little surprise when comparing the two trucks side-by-side. In 1950, the US Government commissioned Toyota to build 100 Willys Jeeps that were to be used in the Korean War. Toyota obliged but immediately saw room for improvement on the old American design. In 1951 Toyota developed their own prototype drawing on the best the Jeep and the Land Rover had to offer. Production of the “Toyota Jeep BJ” began in 1953 and the vehicle was primarily used by police and military. In 1954, the civilian version gained the Land Cruiser name and grew in popularity as an all-round utility vehicle for farmers or anyone needing to get over rough terrain. In 1960, the 40-series Land Cruiser was unveiled with all-new body styling, an improved chassis and new engine options. It remained in regular production for 24 years, becoming a legend for its amazing ruggedness as much as its tough-guy good looks. It served at the hands of soldiers and warlords alike on virtually every continent on the globe. Hundreds of thousands of Land Cruiser FJ40s are still in service in all corners of the earth, no matter how remote they may be. 40-Series Land Cruisers were offered in a variety of body styles ranging from the most popular short-wheelbase convertible, to long wheelbase troop carriers and pickups. Our featured FJ40 is a 1978 model in the rare and desirable configuration of short wheelbase chassis, combined with fixed hard top with dual ambulance doors in the rear. It has been comprehensively restored and presents in excellent condition with many updates and improvements. The body is straight and solid, and has been finished in matte black paint. Panel fit and finish is very good, and lamps, fittings and exposed hinges are excellent. The matte black look carries over on to the bumpers and wheels, with no chrome at all on the exterior giving this little Toyota a slightly sinister appearance. Large off-road radials ensure grip in all conditions. Up front is a brand new Warn 10,000-pound winch; should the dual-range transfer case and locking hubs not be enough to get you unstuck. While this is certainly a high quality and attractive restoration, it is also a usable truck; a truck we wouldn’t hesitate to go off-roading with. Unlike today’s Land Cruiser, the FJ40 is about function over luxury. Black upholstered seats are in excellent condition and the rear seats are in the dual side-facing configuration. Front and rear heaters keep everyone comfortable after a day in the woods, and a modern stereo system keeps all occupants entertained. The F-series inline-six displaces 3.9 liters and, while it may not win at the stoplight drags, it will get you across the most punishing terrain without breaking a sweat. Our example is equipped with the desirable 4-speed manual, the extra cog being welcome upgrade from the earlier 3-speed. A great deal of effort has been spent to make this a reliable, usable and attractive Land Cruiser. It was restored very well with the emphasis on usability and fun, one drive and it is easy to see why the Land Cruiser has such a loyal and passionate following. We are big fans of this iconic off-roader and we trust it will serve its next keeper for decades to come.