Courtesy of Bonhams
The iconic BJ40 offered here is a desirable convertible diesel variant that is seldom seen in the United States. The truck has just received a comprehensive, fully documented, body-off restoration by marque specialists. Every aspect of this truck has been thoroughly inspected and either upgraded or restored. The countless hours of detailed and meticulous craftsmanship seamlessly blend the iconic vintage design with modern technology, creating a one-of-a-kind vehicle. During the restoration, the body was stripped to bare metal and media-blasted prior to painting. The exterior is finished in menacing flat black with gloss black adorning key details. Inside, the well-bolstered bucket seats and rear benches are covered in exceptional hand-crafted, two-tone leather, providing a comfortable experience for up to six passengers, who are all protected by the custom-built, extra-strength roll bar. Under its beautiful skin is the fully rebuilt, indestructible 3-liter B-type engine and a 4-speed manual transmission. Whether cruising on the highway or navigating the roughest of terrain, the Old Man Emu suspension components, steel wheels and new BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A tires ensure that this 4x4 is prepared for anything that you throw at it. The overarching theme of the build was to keep true to the look and feel of the original icon, but sprinkled throughout are high-end improvements for a more enjoyable experience including items such as LED lighting and a Bluetooth-enabled Sony sound system. Accompanying the vehicle is extensive photo documentation of the world-class restoration. With room for plenty of friends to hit the road or trail, this convertible BJ40 is a top example of the vintage Toyota Land Cruiser that would be the envy of the crowd whether at a show or off-road event.  

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1985 Toyota Land Cruiser BJ40
Years Produced:1960–2001
Number Produced:300,000-plus
Original List Price:$10,348
SCM Valuation:$45,000
Tune Up Cost:$100
Chassis Number Location:Outer right frame rail, behind front bumper
Engine Number Location:Right side of engine block, above starter
Club Info:Toyota Land Cruiser Association
Alternatives:1954–83 Jeep CJ-5, 1948–85 Land Rover Series, 1961–80 International Harvester Scout
Investment Grade:C

This vehicle, Lot 166, sold for $87,360, including buyer’s premium, at Bonhams’ auction in Greenwich, CT, on June 3, 2018.

The pre-auction estimate for this fully restored classic Toyota Land Cruiser was $65,000 to $85,000, and neither the vehicle nor the bidders disappointed anyone. Prices have been rising on the gas-powered FJ and the diesel-drinking BJ variants for decades, and with this sale it’s safe to say that the ruggedest Toyotas are now premium collectibles.

A knock-off Jeep

Toyota first conceived the Land Cruiser as a Jeep clone. In August of 1950, the U.S. Army asked Toyota to build a prototype “Jeep” based on the Willys-Overland M38 spec. Toyota built the vehicles for use in the Korean War and by the Japanese police, putting the prototype together in five months.

Then, in classic Japanese fashion, they set out to improve the design.

Taking elements from Land Rover Series 1 as well as the Jeep, Toyota produced the first BJ vehicles in 1951. One major difference between the Willys Jeep and the early Toyotas was that even though the BJ had the ability to shift between RWD and 4WD, the transfer case was a single-speed unit. So the Toyota had no low range until 1960. But by 1955 Toyota was calling the new vehicles Land Cruisers and selling them to the public.

A long life

The Land Cruiser had its most prolific run from the 1960 introduction of the J40 model to the end of formal J40 production in 1984.

By 1965, the J40 had been Toyota’s biggest seller in America for several years, and by 1973 Toyota had built over 300,000 J40 vehicles of various types. Buyers could get the J40 as a 2-door soft top or hard top, a 2-door with a pickup bed or as a 4-door wagon.

Engine options evolved over the 25-year production run. The Type F gas engines were popular in North America, giving the Land Cruiser its popular FJ40 insider name. The rest of the world preferred the Type B diesel engines, and those are known as BJ40s. Trivia buffs will want to note that the BJ in this designation is not related to the original BJ vehicle name from the 1950s.

The subject vehicle was built right at the end of the formal J40 production run. Theoretically, 1984 was the last model year of production. This one is listed as a 1985, according to Bonhams, but it’s not likely to be an important distinction.

At the close of 1984, Toyota officially changed over to the J70 Land Cruiser, a longer and more SUV-like vehicle, although in world-market form it could still be ordered as a soft top, hard top, pickup, wagon or van. But in a bit of good news for J40 lovers, Toyota do Brasil kept right on building the old J40 until 2001 under the “Toyota Bandeirante” nameplate. From 1968 to 1993, these Brazilian J40s came with Mercedes-Benz diesel engines, and from 1994 to 2001 with newer Toyota diesels.

Toyota J40 models of any kind are prized collectibles today, and in good condition they bring good money.

Hemmings lists two full pages of private-party sales, with most decent examples carrying asking prices in the $30,000–$40,000 range. The SCM Platinum Auction Database shows dozens of J40 Land Cruisers crossing auction blocks this year with sale prices ranging from $9,900 (SCM# 6867583) to $154,000 (SCM# 6858377), although most sales fall between $20,000 and $60,000.

The subject vehicle

The BJ40 auctioned during the Greenwich Concours d’Elegance weekend was the recipient of a fresh and seemingly perfect resto-modification, with tasteful upgrades that will make this Land Cruiser fun, comfortable, useful and reliable. The auction listing also included dozens of photographs of the finished product and the restoration process, so the buyer could bid with confidence. Well played, seller.

Among the photos was the all-important shot of the original build plate, which identifies this BJ40 as a European-spec LHD unit built at the Toyota Honsya plant, which had been building Land Cruisers since 1953. The plate also indicates that the 3.0-liter Type B engine and 4-speed transmission are native to the vehicle.

Based on the level of restoration, the bid price was right in the fat part of the bell curve for Land Cruisers. Assuming the new owner takes good care of this BJ40, it should hold that value and appreciate. It’s easy to rate this one as well bought and well sold.

A wide-open market

The takeaway from this sale is that the market for Land Cruisers is wide open. There are plenty of them, and they’re changing hands in healthy numbers. Sellers don’t appear to have inflated notions of value based on the range of asking prices and successful sales, and buyers are bringing respectable money to the top restored examples.

About the only losers in this scenario are the hardcore 4X4 enthusiasts who have prized the Land Cruiser for decades as an indestructible off-road machine. The market is going to make the J40 far too valuable for that kind of abuse very soon — even if it is what they were built for.

If you want to go exotic, it’s still possible to buy a used Bandeirante out of South America, although the potential condition of a used J40 pulled from the Amazon jungle may make local purchase a wiser move. If you decide to go hunting in the rain forest, remember that Bandeirantes made through 1993 are now importable under the 25-year rule, and that 1993 was the first year for a 5-speed manual transmission paired with the most powerful of the Mercedes diesel engines.

Go ahead, we’ll hold your beer. ♦

(Introductory description courtesy of Bonhams.)

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